Tessy Igomu, Lagos
They are women alright but they represent a special breed holding their ground in a terrain dominated by men. They are ebullient Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) who fall under the bracket of trail-blazers with an unruffled demeanour. You can’t help but ask what drove these women to a career in a challenging field.
Could it be a strong desire to help people, courage to step forward and get involved or the need to make a difference in the society? Whatever the driving force might be, these women can be aptly described as possessing the rare combination of bravery, wit and intelligence and have through hindsight and foresight, excelled in their duties, not just as crime-fighters, but as mothers and wives.
Though not allowed to speak with the press, Daily Sun was able to get bits of information on these women from family members, colleagues and friends.
…First to fall under this radar is Margaret Ekpe, a Superintendent of Police (CSP). She is a passionate police officer whose traits no doubt belly her intimidating pedigree. She belongs to the generation of female officers that believe in perfection and leading by example. These traits, contributed in great measures to her rise from the lowest rung of the ladder to the top echelon of her career in a short time.
Ekpe was the DPO of Man-Centre Division, Adeniyi Jones and Anthony Division. Presently, she is the Traffic Officer, Lagos State Command.
In the words of her colleagues, Ekpe is one woman police squad, who does her job with pride, unflagging strength and passion. Two things stand very convincingly intimidating about this zealous police officer. One is her athletic frame and two, her no-nonsense attitude to corruption and unruly behaviours exhibited by people, especially errant motorists.
Epke was once described as a hardworking female police officer by the DPO of Makinde, where she was attached as the Divisional Traffic officer 1(DTO), for over four years.
She was one of the most popular figures at Oshodi Oke, at a time when the place could be likened to a battle ground. Like a born sprinter which she is, her image as she pranced about at Oshodi-Oke, threatening commercial bus operators with her baton to avoid traffic jam is still etched on the memory of road users.
The fear of ‘Mama’ as she was fondly called by motorists when she held sway as a traffic officer was the beginning of wisdom. Commercial bus operators and street urchins’ actually cringed at her sight. They dared not pick a passenger along the highway except at designated bus stops if Ekpe’s imposing figure was sighted. To them, she was a friend and foe alike.
Lagosians plying the route, especially during the early hours of traffic always heaved a sigh of relief when she is sighted by the expressway in her orange coloured tank top, police uniform.
According to most of her colleagues, Ekpe’s zero tolerance to lawlessness worked for her, as it wielded respect for her at every point in her career. Many times while on duty and her subordinates begin to show signs of fatigue, Ekpe is said to still look fit and combat ready.
The question then is how she juggles the challenges of motherhood with the risk of being a crime fighter. The answer lies in her athletic background. This Akwa Ibom native is a sports woman who had won several international medals for Nigeria. Described as one of the best sprinters in the Nigeria Police, Ekpe today, has risen to the level of a coach in the Ikeja Police College. Despite her busy schedule, she still finds time to go to the Police College every morning to train newly enlisted policemen.
At the home front, this mother and wife ensures that her role as a home builder is not in any way compromised by increasing demands from work.
According to the State’s Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, “until you meet Epke, you won’t understand the level of commitment and passion she has for the police force and survival of other people around her.”
Described as a dedicated Christian, Ekpe joined the Nigeria Police in 1984 as a cadet officer. Her last promotion was in February 1, 2003, to the rank of Superintendent of Police.
When she was first posted to the Makinde Police Division, she was given the position of the Divisional Crime Officer II but in a short while, was also made the DTO 1.
Ekpe attended Ireti Primary School Ikoyi and Salvation Army Secondary School, in Akai Ubim-Etinan, Akwa-Ibom. She then obtained a National Certificate of Education (NCE) from the College of Education, Uyo, after which she had her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme in Gombe State. She also attended the prestigious University of Lagos and also has a Grade 11 Certificate as an Athletic Coach from the National Institute of Sports. In order to hone her skills as a detective, she obtained a Higher Diploma in Graphognomy after studying Character Analysis through Hand Writing. She has worked as Command Education Officer at the Police Children School, Officer in charge of MSD, and Crime Officer 11. She was at various times Area Traffic Officer-Area ‘H’ Command and Officer-in-charge of Juvenile Welfare Centre, Alakara, Mushin.
Her impact at the welfare centre is still being felt, as those who worked with her vividly recall days when Ekpe went to the market asking the women for food for her children. They also told Daily Sun how she usually fuels her car to go in search of families of the children in her care.
“There were times when the car would break down and she would urge us to go by public transport to unearth parents in places beyond imagination, armed only with nothing but a sketchy address from a disoriented child,” the reporter was told.
To her colleagues where she presently works, though she likes perfection and would stop at nothing to achieve it, she appreciates and rewards hardwork.
Her exploits in sports has also been outstanding. The one time International Athlete in Discus Throws represented Nigeria at the ‘All Africa Games’, held in Cairo, Egypt, in 1991. She also held the title of National Champion in Discus Throws for Women for five year.
Ekpe was a two time Gold Medallist in Discus Event at the Nigerian University Games (NUGA), four times Gold medallist for the Lagos State Sports Council as well as five times Gold Medallist at the National Mobil Track and Field Championship.
This gallant police officer also has numerous awards in her kitty that include; ‘Recognition for Excellence in Road Management’ by Rotary Club of Ewutuntun, Oshodi, and an award of Community Service for being ‘An Advocate for the Lost and Abandoned Children’ by Heritage Homes Orphanage, Lagos. She was two-time recipient of the Inspector General of Police ‘Award for Merit and Courage’, Award of Excellence as DPO of Man-Centre Police Division and JCI Award of ‘Excellence & Outstanding Dedication to Service’.
The 2009 maiden edition of the Polis Magazine, published by Ram Publication recognised Ekpe as an outstanding woman and nick named her the ‘Mother Theresa of the Nigeria Police’. Not long after, she received a ‘Special Recognition Award of Excellence’ from the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA).
During one of former Nigeria’s first lady, late Mrs. Stella Obasanjo visit to Lagos, she stopped at Oshodi-Oke and recognised Ekpe for her hardwork. The Police Community Relation Committee (PCRC) of Man-Centre, gave her an award for building five offices and renovating the police station. Anthony Division PCRC also followed suit with a recognition award of ‘Outstanding Performance and Crime Fighting’. Her outstanding personalities were also noticed by Guardian Newspaper, as she was made the paper’s ‘Icon of the Week’ on July 2, 2007, in recognition of her work at the Juvenile Welfare Centre, Alakara, Lagos.
All these enviable qualities no doubt have got her into the bad book of lazy and corrupt officers. But like they say, a golden fish has no hiding place; as she always managed to shine in any obscured locations she was posted.
…..Until you meet amiable Aisha Maliki Haruna, you won’t understand the level of commitment and passion she has for the Nigeria Police Force. Haruna is blessed with a friendly and revealing disposition that endears her to people. She is a woman with a compelling life, who shrugged off the toga of despondency to become a diligent crime fighter.
This courteous police officer who is the DPO of Ikoyi Division, Lagos, is literally a voice for women who hope to rise above the murky waters of redundancy.
Known for her diligence and knack for perfection, it is not surprising that she rose among the ranks within a short time. However, she did not get to where she is today by coasting home freely. She made the sacrifice by pitching for education and being resilient rather than riding on the back of people to succeed.
Born in the early 70s, she hails from Ilorin in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State. She had her early education at Wesley LSMB Primary School and Government High School, Ilorin. She has her tertiary education at Kwara State Polytechnic and obtained a Diploma in Law and degree in Public Administration. Haruna later proceeded to the University of Lagos, for a post graduate programme in Public Administration.
This daughter of a retired police officer, Mr. Bamidele Alli Maliki, was said to have been pressured by her father to join the Nigeria Police but she had misgivings about the prospect and refused. But like a chicken that finally comes home to roost, she enlisted into the force at 18, in 1989. That singular step, her family members admit has brought her honour and contentment. Two years later, she proceeded to the Police Academy, Kano and graduated as a Cadet Inspector. Haruna later beefed up her personality as a crime fighter by attending several courses and training programmes which include; the PMF Training, Leadership Training, Detective Training, Induction courses as well as training on Human Rights.
She has also worked in several police commands and formations in Kwara, Anambra, Kano, Mechanized Salary Sections and Police Cooperative Section. In the Lagos State Command, she has at various times worked as Divisional Crime Officer, Divisional Traffic Officer, Administration Officer and Human Rights Officer.
Haruna, according to her colleagues, is an exemplary wife and exceptional mother to her kids. They also describe her as a self-effacing DPO who believes in hard work and team spirit for effective policing. Ikoyi under her is said to be sane and crime minimal. A stickler for neatness, the areas surrounding the station is spic and span because she can’t stand dirt.
According to Frank Mba, “Interest in what one does is what counts. She is well motivated and believes in herself and her job. That I believe is the staying power for Haruna.”
…She is seen as a no-nonsense woman who suffers no fool gladly. Friddausi Folashayo Hassan, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and DPO of Ifako-Gbagada Police Station is a woman alright but an assertive and passionate one. Described as a thorough bred police officer by friends and colleagues, she is imbued with hard work and benevolence.
Firmly committed to the ideals of policing through diplomacy and peaceful resolution, Hassan is a bundle of unrestricted energy and can’t compromise her job for anything.
“This woman leads patrol and is always at the forefront of any operation during crises. Even if she goes home and there is a problem by 2.am, her husband would bring her back to the station immediately,” disclosed a policeman at the station where she presides.
Her colleagues agree that she displays a genuine fear and dependence on God from childhood, and this they say has seen to her steady rise in the police force.
Two things have been attributed to the success and goodwill she enjoys as a police officer; courage and integrity.
It’s interesting to see how she relates to complainants and settle issues. All these, people attribute to her experience during a Peace Keeping Mission in Natiti, Dafur, Sudan. The Dafur stint evidently exposed her to real policing and repositioned her for future challenges as a female police officer. Her colleagues see her as an officer that always wants to be on top of any situation, as she is always on the field with her men.
Born in Ponyan, Yagba East Local Government Area of Kogi State, in December 1963, Hassan attended L.S.M.B Primary School and Titcombe College, both in Kogi.
She enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force in 1984 and graduated as Cadet-Inspector. After being posted to Kano State Command on a year Industrial Attachment during which she served in Sabon Gari, Kwali Division and the State CID, Hassan deployed to Gwagwaruwa Division as an Inspector in Charge of Administration and Charge Room Officer.
In 1987, this crime fighter was deployed to Plateau State Command and later to Police College, Ikeja in 1991. Her promotion to Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1992, saw her being moved from Police College to International Airport Command. After five years, she was again transferred to Ekiti State Command and then to Police Pension Office Ikeja.
She was decorated as Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) in 2003, and after a Junior Command Course (JCC) in Jos, Plateau State, got promoted to the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP).
In 2006, she was decorated as Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), after which she went on a foreign mission to Dafur, Sudan for a year. In September 2008, Hassan was in Italy for a course at the Centre of Excellence Stability Police Unit. After working as Area Traffic Officer, Area ‘C’ Division, Surulere.
She is regarded as a mother at Ifako-Gbagada Police Station and ensures due process is followed when it comes to policing and conflict resolution in the area.
…..There is a bagful of intelligence and hard work to this particular police officer. In her neat and well ironed uniform, Longe Yetunde, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), paints the picture of a woman burning with patriotic zeal for the Nigeria Police Force. People like Yetunde, those close to her noted, don’t grow on trees and as such, is a blessing to the force.
As the incumbent Commandant of Police Training School, Lagos, she does not rest on her oars to ensure that the school produces thoroughbred police officers to serve and protect the society.
Like the saying, you can never judge a book by its cover, underneath her serious, steeled look lie a calm heart that kindly reaches out to people. Call her a busy bee and you would be hitting the nail right on the head. As a mother, wife and administrator, she exudes an aura that is both irresistible and impressive.
Married to her duties and never one given to idleness, two things that seem to work perfectly well for Yetunde is the ability to tolerate and work with anybody under any circumstance.
This woman of steely disposition distinguished herself in the service while working as 21/C, Area ‘F’ Police Command, Lagos. As a 21/C of the command, the responsibility of overseeing about eight police divisions namely; Ikeja, Alausa, Ilupeju, Man-Centre, Shogunle, Makinde, Mosafejo as well as Akinpelu, fell on her shoulder in the absence of the Area Commander. Her resounding success on this position earned her the nickname ‘DPO of DPOs’, from her subordinates and colleagues.
Yetunde attended the Lagos Anglican Girls Grammar School, Surulere, Lagos, and later, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice City, University of New York, for her tertiary education. In order to reposition herself for effective crime investigation, she undertook Advanced Detective Course and Intelligence and Intermediate Command Course. She has worked in FORCIB (FIB) FHQ ANNEX LAGOS and S/CIB (SIB) IKEJA. She has also worked as AREA CRIME OFFICER, AREA ‘F” IKEJA and as 21/C AREA ‘F’ Commander. Yetunde enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force on March 3, 1990.
According to Frank Mba, Yetunde, like the other women whose lives and career have been mirrored have showcased exceptional leadership and bravery.
“You can’t be a DPO or 21/C without leading serious police operations. Beyond being an administrative and operational head, you must be at the forefront of dangerous operations. This all prove that women police officers have grown beyond expectations of past decades that saw them working just behind desks. They have grown to become leaders in police departments across the country. The Nigeria Police Force is proud of them and wants younger ones to know that they have got a future in the force, and that the force doesn’t discriminate against women, especially those that take their duties very serious,” he said.