On the 15th of March 1988, 198 greenhorns of young men and women, enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force as Cadet Assistant Superintendents of Police (ASPs)
They were unsure what the policing future holds for them, but at the end of their training, they were all sure they wanted to give the best they had to offer in serving and protecting Nigerians and if they die in the course of their work, so be it.
They would later be known as the last of the POLAC COURSE 1/1988, meaning that they were the first set of the Academy.
On 23rd of March 2023, only 14 of them were left standing as seen in a Pull-Out Parade held at the Ikeja Police College. This is after completing the mandatory 35 years of service.
The current Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Usman Baba is part of this course, partly due to his service to the nation is still in the Force.
Most of the celebrants retired as Assistant Inspector of General of Police (AIG), but Mr Johnson Babatunde Kokumo, who is among the celebrants, retired as a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG).
Among these 14 officers is a single woman, the last woman standing so to say. She is AIG Ngozi Vivian Onadeko.
These 14 officers at a colourful ceremony, witnessed by hundreds of colleagues, friends, families, and journalists, stood shoulder to shoulder, with pride and joy etched on their faces.
They have many reasons to be proud, not just because their junior officers did not boo and insult them out of office as is common among some retired officers, but because they left honourably and were being celebrated.
They also have reasons to be proud because they were not arrested or detained over nefarious activities. Most importantly, they have a reason to be happy because they did not die on duty and lived to be celebrated by Nigerians.
Many of their coursemates died while in service, while others retired before them due to the age caveat in the Force.
Kokumo, who led the pack, said: “Giving a valedictory speech that adequately addresses every aspect of our experience as Police Officers since we joined the force 35 years ago is not an easy task.
“However, allow us to begin this valedictory speech by thanking the Almighty God, the Alpha and Omega and Majesty. This day would not have been possible without Him. There were so many other officers who joined the Force before us and even long after us who dreamt and wished to see a day like this but never got the chance. There were also a number of my contemporaries who joined the Force on the same day as we did and were looking forward to seeing a day like this, but it never came. One hundred and ninety-eight (198) of us commenced training on 15th March 1988, but 178 completed training. Many of them were called to glory long before they reached retirement age. May their gentle souls find eternal peace. Therefore, we began this speech with a prayer of thanksgiving to the Almighty God.
“Our appointment into the Force was both divine and fortuitous. After finishing tertiary education, many had no premonition of becoming police officers. We must admit that the journey thus far has not been easy. The love and passion we had for the job were the driving forces that kept us going.
“On several occasions, we would leave for work and would not know when we would return. This became a pattern, and our lovely families grew accustomed to it. It was also impossible to predict where we would be deployed next. As a result, the family belongings were always kept in a condition that allowed for such frequent movements without being noticed.
“We commend our wives and lovely children for their perseverance and prayers at all times. We acknowledge the roles that our superiors played in developing us and providing us with the necessary professional knowledge and direction, both in the training colleges and on the pitch. We were always eager to learn, and we did learn a lot from them. God used these thoroughbred professionals to shape us into the people we are today. People like AIG Casmir, T. Akhagbasu rtd, CP Sagbongeri rtd, CP Maramri rtd, CP Christopher Omorusi rtd, CP Muhammed Zarewa rtd, CP Udeka rt, CSP Adeku rtd and others.”
The retired DIG, while thanking IGP Baba, said that he was more than a coursemate, he was a boss, friend, confidant and brother.
“To officers still in service, we love you all and thank you for collaborating with us in the service of our fatherland. We implore you to keep the flag flying. Our collective roles and efforts to ensure the safety of every Nigerian are ongoing, and we will not give up until the
battle is won. It’s our hope that the Almighty God who has seen us through our service years will also see you through,” said Kokumo.
DIG Adeyinka Adeleke, representing IGP Baba at the event, said that the officers had contributed immensely to policing the nation, having served the nation in different capacities.
He added: “It is imperative to celebrate them in a colourful way. You’ve retired, but you’re not tired.”
A retired DIG, Research and Planning, Peter Ogunyanwo, told the officers that he was praying for sound health for them, which he said was paramount. He also said that he would not want them to retire into penury, recalling that after his retirement two years ago, it was difficult to pick up and he had to rely on his wife to be feeding him.
Ogunyanwo also mentioned the issue of the ridiculous monthly pension retired police officers were being paid, insisting that the Force should be removed from a such contributory pension scheme.
Further advising the officers, the DIG said: “Don’t be hasty in going into businesses. I also want to use this opportunity to tell serving policemen to learn to respect retired officers and not to treat them as if they have a disease.”
Kokumo, who doubled as the DIG representing and supervising the southwest Zone and DIG in charge of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCID), was born to the family of High Chief Jacob Kokumo, Baale Alimosho Town and Lady Elizabeth Kokumo in Lagos, where he had his primary and secondary school education.
He graduated with a second-class upper, combined Honours degree in Sociology and Anthropology in 1982 from the University of Maiduguri.
He attended the University of Lagos, where he bagged a Master of Science degree in Sociology with a specialization in Criminology in 1984.
In the course of his career, he served Force in various capacities including but not limited to the following CP Force Armament, two-time CP Edo State, CP Osun State, AIG Federal Operations, AIG zone 2 Command, DIG Research and Planning Department.
The thoroughbred professional is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Science and the American Sociological Association, among others.
He is an alumnus of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies.
Among the officers is AIG Eboka Friday, born on the 12th of September 1963 in Boji Agbor, to the family of Michael Dibie Eboka and Comfort Eboka, both of Alsimie in the South Local Government Area of Delta State.
He obtained his first leaving certificate at Ekuku Agbor Grammar School before proceeding to the University of Nigeria Nsukka, where he bagged a Bsc. Hons in Political Science in 1988.
He served in the nation under the NYSC programme in Kano before being enlisted as a cadet ASP in 1988. He served in various state commands and formations including Delta, Sokoto, Rivers, Lagos, Ondo, Force Headquarters Abuja, Kano state and Zone 2 Lagos before he was promoted to the rank of Commissioner of Police and posted as CP Railway. A year later, he was redeployed to Rivers State as command CP, where he served until he was promoted to AIG and posted to Zone 16 yenogoa where he retired honourably.
The last woman standing among the officers, Onadeko, had her primary and secondary education in Aba and Owerri. She was a pioneer student of Imo State University, where she bagged a BSc (Hons) in Sociology and Msc degree from the
University of Lagos. She served at various Commands and formations as CP Training Department of Training and Development, CP Oyo State Command, AIG Armament and lastly AIG Training, Department of Training and Development (DTD).
The pulling-out parade was anchored by the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), a Superintendent of Police, Benjamin Hundeyin.
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