For the trio of Pa Rufus Oyebade, Madam Mary Oyebade and Adeleye Oyebade of Abeokuta, Ogun State, there is no better career than in the police. Perhaps, this accounted for the enlistment of the father, mother and son in that order in the Nigeria Police!
Mrs. Oyebade was among the first set of women police recruited in 1957 into the Police College, Ikeja, Lagos. She retired as Deputy Supertintendent of Police in1975. Her husband, Rufus, of blessed memory, who encouraged her to join the Police was also enlisted as Constable in 1953 and retired as Assistant Commissioner of Police in 1990.
While the couple retired after meritorious service, their son, Adeleye, is still keeping the flag flying as the current Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 11.
Mrs. Oyebade is the popular ‘’Iya Toyin Olopa’’ of the early 70’s whose name would never be forgotten by old drivers in Lagos. A no-nonsense and disciplined policewoman literarily became a terror to motorists, particularly commercial drivers. Her exploits in ensuring traffic compliance remain legendary.
She recently turned 90, ‘’Iya Toyin Olopa’’, narrated to Daily Sun her sojourn in the police: “Initially, I did not like the police, but my late husband, Rufus, encouraged me to join the force and I thank God that I did not regret it. I was not alone in the profession, my husband and son also made and still making career in it.
“I was among the first set of women recruited in 1957 into the Police College Ikeja, Lagos, where I passed out in 1958 in flying colours. While I was in the college, I told a lie to my mother that I was in the School of Nursing, but when she came visiting, the cat was let out of the bag as she saw me in police uniform. I apologised and she forgave me. On his part, my father was happy that her daughter was in the police.
“At the college, I specialised in general duties; all round squad. Hence, after graduation, I was posted to Denton, Ebute-Metta, Lagos. I was charged with the responsibilities of arresting under-aged traders, particularly female teenagers who were susceptible to being raped or kidnapped. I was empowered to arrest them and charge their parents to court.
“From Denton, I was posted to the Campbell Street Police Station in the Welfare Section. When I left Campbell Street, I later deployed in the Lion Building, Traffic Section. That brought me fame and honours among my colleagues, but I was dreaded by motorists, particularly commercial drivers of that time who often drove recklessly and many a times, without necessary driving documents.
‘’For me I did not spare the rod to spoil the child. Once you ran foul of any traffic laws of the state, I did not usually hesitate to charge such a person to court. Although, many of them offered me bribe but I rejected them. I became their enemies and they attempted to eliminate me, but God did not allow them.
“If wishes were horses, majority of commercial drivers would have wished that I was not alive till the time I retired in 1975 let alone to talk of marking a milestone of birthday. Many commercial drivers on many occasions have set traps for me, but God had always made sure that I did not fall into it.”
She recalled with nostalgia a signal from the then Commissioner of Police, Adejo, whom she also described as a disciplined and no-nonsense police officer who directed her to descend heavily on danfo and molue drivers:
‘’I complied with the signal and the following day, we made spectacular arrests of drivers and charged them to court. The popular charge then was overloading, driving without licence, staying on the tailboard among others. Unfortunately, after doing the work for about a month to the satisfaction of my boss, a petition came that my team was doing the job with fears and favours.
‘’The petitioners claimed we usually exempted certain drivers from arrest. Thereafter I was summoned to the office of the commissioner where he gave out the details of the vehicles that were said I usually spared. Luckily for me after searching through the charge-book, it was discovered that almost all the ‘favoured-drivers’ of the vehicles have been charged to court for a minimum of two times for one traffic offence or the other.
“My commissioner was happy with the development and this emboldened me in the discharge of my duties. I swear that as a policewoman, I never received bribe in whatever form from anyone. It is my belief that whoever received bribe never do well or his children do well in life.
‘’I am proud to say that my children are doing well in their respective discipline because we (myself and husband) struggled to educate them through our meagre salaries and not through bribe or any gratification from anyone or group. To me, bribery is a curse. I make bold to say that my husband and I who later retired as ACP, never received bribe as police officers, Jesus Christ that we both serve is our witness.
‘’When I was in the service before I retired as DSP, I attended many police courses including the popular London Police College for general duties along many other police officers from different parts of the world. I remember very well that I returned to Nigeria with a promotion. After I retired, I went into trading, selling wrists-watches and other things, but later veered into selling nails, which later brought me fortune. The rest is history as they would say.”
How did your son join the Police?
“Leye got enlisted into the police with higher qualification after several years of teaching. Unlike his father and I, he left the Police College, Ikeja as Cadet, with the rank of Assistsnt Superintendent of Police (ASP). I thank God for his life as he keeps the flag flying. It is my prayer that he gets higher and higher in the police.”
Who among commissioners of police that you served would you not forget and why?
“Yes, very well, I will never forget two of them; commissioners Olawale and Adejo, both shaped my life as a policewoman. They were as discplined as I was on duty did not tolerate nonsense. Aside them, I remember IG Omobare, whom God used to transfer my husband from the police band section to the regular general duty.”
What days will you not forget in the police?
“There are so many, but I will never forget a particular one during which I escaped the evil machination of drivers who had arranged to kill me through organised accident. But God whom I serve devotedly thwarted their plans.”
What are your pieces of advice to young policemen and women?
“They should serve their fatherland diligently and faithfully. They should be contented with whatever position they found themsleves, bearing in mind that it is only God who elevates. If you serve well in the police, definitely God will compensate you after retirement the way He compensated me after my retirement.”
What are secrets of longevity?
“As a person I believe there is nothing like secrets of longevity, but there is abundant grace of God which is sufficient enough all the time for everything in one’s life. When I was younger, I used to take anything under the sun, particularly ‘eba.’ I could take it anytime of the day, but as age sets in, I began to choose my food.
“I now eat lots of fruits and take my prescribed drugs regularly. Let me make this clarification that as much as I like anything food, I detest pig meat. My dislike for it is because of the way it digs the ground with its nose as well as its dirty nature.”
Your marriage with your husband was about 60 years old when he died last year, what kept you going for so long?
“Living with my husband for that long was through the grace of God. It also involved tolerance, patience, prayers and love between us. I want to advise that couples should be prayerful as well as tolerate and understand one another or else their marriage will not last. While they should also be respectful of one another, wives should also be totally submissive to their husbands.”
At 90, death can come anytime, how would you like to be remembered?
“I want to be remembered as a disciplined policewoman who served her fatherland diligently; as a mother who imbibed the fear of God in her children and above all as a Christian who served God without mixing it with any other god.”