Agekameh’s last article: ‘DIG Lakanu: Farewell to a supercop’


By Dele Agekameh

Angels fly because they take themselves lightly. They do not think too much of themselves, so does Federick Taiwo Lakanu, Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG. Like a guardian angel, he puts the citizenry and his work first, in the true spirit of police creed: To serve and to protect. But whatever has an entry must certainly have an exit. And for the well-celebrated DIG, all things being equal, he would retire from service this coming Saturday, October 12, 2019.

There is no gainsaying that DIG Lakanu belongs to the pantheon Nigeria’s most patriotic public servants. He assumes temperance and humility in the shape of a cloak and badge of honour, thus affirming his character as a law enforcer with commitment to the peace and continuity of the Nigerian project.

My first encounter with Lakanu was in early 2000, when he was PSO, Principal Staff Officer, to Tafa Balogun, the ebullient former Inspector General of Police widely known for his “fire for fire” policing doctrine. Lakanu was then manning the IG’s annex at Obalende. That day, I had an appointment to see Balogun, who was on a whistle-stop visit to Lagos. It was Lakanu that attended to me.

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He was calm, cool and smart. His well-tailored uniform and shining shoes to match, gave him away as a powerful dresser that will always catch people’s attention. He made sure that we were comfortable where all visitors were asked to sit as he sauntered in now and then to check on us. He assured us that the IG was just clearing some files on his table and would soon attend to us. That was my first encounter with him. Thereafter, as I was leaving the complex, we exchanged numbers and became friends from then on.

Many months later, we met again at the IG’s lodge in Ikoyi. In fact, Lakanu was so close to the IG then that he was always with him whenever he, the IG, visited Lagos. When the IG was abruptly removed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, I called him to sound him out on what had happened. His only response was, “eh, soldier go, soldier come”, and that ended the conversation. What it meant was that he had moved on. All through the years, we never lost contact.

From the time he enlisted as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in 1986, Lakanu endeavoured to serve at his best, holding nothing back in his bid to restore the lost glory of the Nigeria Police. In so doing, his rise was meteoric as he served diligently across the investigations, operations, and administrative departments of the police.

Lakanu was a prominent member of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) that cut short the reign of terror of the dreaded armed robber, Shina Rambo, in the 1980s. In Imo, he supervised the neutralisation of the notorious kidnapper, “Vampire” (and members of his gang), during the latter’s reign of terror across Nigeria’s south-east and neighbouring regions.

His unprecedented success as a crime fighter in Imo earned him the sobriquet, “messiah”, and two chieftaincy titles: the “Onwa natili oha of Igboland” (the moon that shines) and “Agu-na-echemba” (the lion that guides the town) of Imo State. As an illustrious law enforcer, Lakanu, is also the Akogun of Lagos State. He was also recently celebrated at an award ceremony organised by Security Watch Africa in Houston, Texas, United States of America, USA. He was decorated as the Most Outstanding Crime Fighter in West and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In all his posts, Lakanu distinguished himself as an efficient, no-nonsense crime fighter.  As Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Operations in Ibadan, he regularly led his squad out all night in the cold, covering all the nooks and crannies of the city which was then notorious for high-profile crimes, including violent robberies. He helped to stem the tide of these violent robberies.

Before his promotion from the rank of an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) to DIG, Lakanu was the Force Secretary and a member of the Nigeria Police Force Management Team. He took over from AIG Abdul Bube, who retired from the force on December 31, 2018, after 35 years in service.

Prior to his elevation as DIG, Lakanu served in various capacities as AIG Federal Operations, Force Headquarters, Abuja; Commissioner of Police in Imo and Ekiti States; Commissioner of Police Airport Command, Lagos; Principal Staff Officer to the IG (Force Headquarters Annex, Lagos), among others. He was also the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 7 Headquarters, Abuja, comprising the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Niger and Kaduna States.

As AIG, he was in charge of operations in the north-east; he has worked in all the troubled spots in the country and has also led a team of policemen to curb the activities of IPOB in the South-east. Through his illustrious career, Lakanu established himself as a super cop. He seemed to relish perilous situations in which he could distinguish himself and demonstrate ingenuity and bravery. Associates and underlings say that he seems hard-wired to attack danger and resolve it, even in circumstances that many would cringe and seek the safest way out. However, he is neither reckless nor impulsive. He simply sought, from the beginning of his career, to fulfil the demands and obligations of his calling, like a true patriot.

Aside his sterling contributions in police operations, Lakanu commits to spiritual well-being and development of the NPF. For instance, his contributions at the Police Headquarters in Owerri, Imo State capital, won’t be forgotten in a hurry; there, he initiated the construction and completion of a Catholic Church called “St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Police Chaplaincy,” to the excitement and appreciation of the police.

Lakanu certainly understands that, aside the rigorous physical and mental grooming characteristic of police work, there is need for spiritual rejuvenation of the force. Thus he built a befitting chaplaincy for his division in Owerri while simultaneously encouraging a far-reaching re-orientation and sensitisation of the force to humane precepts of crime-fighting and public service. Lakanu, no doubt, contributed in no small measure, in redeeming the battered image of the Nigerian Police within and outside his divisions of service. It is hardly astonishing thus that a dual carriage way, directly behind the police headquarters, was named after him, while he served in Owerri, Imo State.

Born on October 12, 1959, in Lagos Island, Lagos State, Lakanu holds a B.A. (Hons) Philosophy and LL.B. (Hons) respectively from the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Lagos State. He also holds a Master’s degree in Law from Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, United Kingdom. He attended several courses within and outside the country, including the Crime Investigation Course at the Police Staff College, Jos, and Developmental Course at Kofi Annan Centre for Peace Keeping, Accra, Ghana. He is also a fellow of National Defence College, Abuja.

Lakanu’s exploits in the police established him as a man of principles, whose life is governed, not by a sense of entitlement, but of duty. In service, he was distinctly apolitical and driven by uncommon values: honour, integrity, humility, service; thus presenting an inverse image of the random police officer’s ugly repute.

Taking heat, daily, on the job, Lakanu neither flinched nor resorted to illegitimate measures. He simply did his job. By many quantitative metrics, Lakanu has proved himself the quintessential crime fighter. By qualitative metrics, he is no less impressive. Arguably one of Nigeria’s most efficient and celebrated police bosses, he flaunts the track record of an impressive leader.

DIG Lakanu is soft-spoken yet charismatic, logical yet passionate. He never set limit to possibilities of success throughout his career as a police boss. He challenged his men to reinvent themselves and serve as great ambassadors of the law enforcement agency. He is also a master of innovation. His ingenious approach to fighting crime and restoring peace and stability in Nigeria’s troubled regions is a proof his depth, high professionalism and ethics at work.

I am sure that the Nigeria Police that he served so meritoriously for 35 years will miss him.

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