Ilorin: A Breeding Ground of IGPs

By Abubakar Imam


Last Monday (June 19, 2023), President Bola Ahmed Tinubu named a new set of service chiefs. One of those named was Mr Kayode Egbetokun who was appointed as Ag. Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Mr Egbetokun, who hails from Ogun State, was formerly the Commissioner of Police, Kwara State Command. He served in Kwara State briefly between 2019 and 2020. Kwara State Command was, in fact, the only State Command the 58 years old new IGP headed in a career, which began 33 years ago.

The attainment of the pinnacle of police service by Mr Egbetokun was not surprising. I hold this view for two major reasons. One, Mr Egbetokun has been a very brave, loyal, diligent and efficient policeman. Two, he was a Commissioner of Police in Kwara State with its headquarters in Ilorin, the State capital.

Many would find the first reason highly plausible. Most would, however, see the second reason cited as pedestrian and unscientific and, therefore, of no effect whatsoever not only on Mr Egbetokun’s emergence as the Head of the Nigeria Police but also on the attainments of his illustrious predecessors.

Many of us from Ilorin, particularly chroniclers of events and personalities, believe that the “destiny” of whoever has the privilege of serving as Commissioner of Police in Kwara State dedicatedly changes positively to the extent that such a person is most likely to end up as the Number One Cop in Nigeria!

You may not agree with me! You have the right to hold your view as I am entitle to mine too. But my assertion is based on verifiable factual historical antecedents.

Yours sincerely was on a delegation of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) led by the then National President of the Union, late Alhaji Abdullahi Atanda, which consulted the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji(Dr) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari,CFR, on an important community development issue,about twenty years ago.

While the Emir was addressing the delegation, he made a fascinating statement, which is having an enduring impression on me as an individual. After commending members of the delegation and, indeed, the Union for her patriotism, Alhaji Sulu-Gambari declared that Ilorin is an “unusual” polity (Ilorin: Ilu ti oni ohun pupo ni, as His Royal Highness uttered in Yoruba language). He added that Ilorin is a place surrounded or enveloped by mystery and mercies of Allah. He, therefore, encouraged members of the delegation to continue to do as much good as they could to Ilorin as a community as nothing done towards the progress of the city would go unrewarded. His position was similar to the compelling exultation of his illustrious father and the penultimate Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji (Dr) Sulu Gambari, CFR, who reigned from 1959 to 1992, in his 1982 Idel-Fitri message to the people and residents of Ilorin Emirate.

The incumbent Emir, Alhaji Sulu-Gambari, who is now the Chancellor of the prestigious Bayero University, Kano, emphasized that whoever related well with Ilorin Emirate would always attain eminence in life and whoever did otherwise would live to regret his action(s). To him, Ilorin is a God’s own entity that cannot and should not be treated anyhow.

Since then, I have been paying close attention to the lives and careers of several people, indigenes and non indigenes, in relation to Ilorin. I found the Emir’s position undoubtedly convincing.

While this assertion is clear and unassailable in the careers of many in the clergy, law, politics, media and economy, to mention a few, who sojourned in Ilorin; the history of leadership succession in the Nigeria Police in relation to its Kwara State Command makes it much clearer. Check the next paragraph and you would find it difficult to disagree with yours sincerely.

Nigeria has had 22 Inspectors-General of Police since independence. Five of them, at one time or the other, served as Commissioners of Police in Kwara State.

The first was the Ogbomoso-born late Chief Sunday Adedayo Adewusi, CFR, GCON (1936-2016). He was the Commissioner of Police, Kwara State Command between 1972 and 1975. He later became the Inspector-General of Police in 1981 at the age of 45. Chief Adewusi, who remains the youngest IGP in the nation’s annals, effectively headed the Nigeria Police until the military sacked the government of President Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari on December 31, 1983. Chief Adewusi’s case was particularly different and stimulating. He lived, invested and died as a member of Ilorin community, a city he adopted as his home in 1960 when he was an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP).

The second of the Inspectors-General of Police, who passed through Ilorin, was Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmadu Comassie. Alhaji Comassie hailed from Katsina, Katsina State. He was the Commissioner of Police in Kwara State in the late 1980s. He was eventually appointed as the IGP in succession to Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim Atta in 1993.

A Lagosian, Alhaji Musiliu Adeo!a Smith, was the third of the ex-Commissioner of Police in-charge of the Kwara State Command who became an IGP. He was the Commissioner of Police in Kwara State in the early 1990s. Alhaji Smith, who, until recently, was the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, was appointed as IGP by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Alhaji Muhammed Dikko Abubakar, who served as Commissioner of Police in Kwara State twenty years ago, also made it to the rank of Inspector-General of Police. He hails from Zamfara State. Alhaji Abubakar would always be remembered as a good friend of Ilorin Emirate like those earlier mentioned. His case was also a bit different as he was deployed as Commissioner of Police, Kwara State Command twice. Just like the new IGP, who was the head of the security apparatus during the 2019 general elections in Kwara State, Alhaji Abubakar also supervised the conduct of 2003 general elections as Kwara CP.

Police and policing are not new to Ilorin. The Emirate has produced many distinguished police officers. None of them has, however, attained the pinnacle of the career. The highest position reached by Ilorin indigenes in the Police so far is the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and five sons of the community rose to that rank at various times. They are Alh Yissa Ojibara, Mr John Maronike, Alhaji Baba Adisa Bolanta, Alhaji Babatunde Ishola Babaita and Alhaji Yekini Ayoku. The last two were recently elevated while no fewer than three also left service at the rank of Commissioner (Alhaji Amusa Bello,Alhaji Abdulkadir Mohammed and late Alhaji Abdulkadir Lanre Jimoh) as another one, Alhaji Garba Salman-Dogo,was recently promoted to the enviable rank of Commissioner of Police while one other consistently promising cop,Mr Jimoh Moshood, distinguished himself as Force Public Relations Officer. Is it because none of the Ilorin-born retired police officers never headed Kwara State Police Command that none of them never became an Inspector-General?

Well, having passed through Ilorin and doing quite well at the at the renowned “sanctuary of saints,scholars and soldiers”, Mr Egbetokun would always be regarded as one of us. Hence, the well-coded congratulatory message of the Emir of Ilorin to him as soon as his appointment was unveiled.

May I, therefore, wish the new Inspector General of Police a very successful tenure of office. I encourage other police officers serving either in Ilorin or elsewhere to always work with their conscience. They too can get to the exalted position of IGP if they work hard and serve with distinction coupled with divine assistance.


Imam is National Secretary, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.

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