Written By Alfred Abiodun.
Legends are born, not made. For a young girl growing up in the east, the vision of the future had been candidly clear and beckoning. In fact, it had been so clear that as instinctively as flies are attracted to nectar, this little girl had made up her mind to follow her dreams wherever they may lead, as long as the road would ultimately lead to her destiny which was to become a distinguished police officer and excel both in exemplary conduct and gallantry; distinctive traits of natural-born career police officers.
Today, that little girl has grown and matured in age and experience, meritoriously scaling all hurdles and challenges which the arduous journey had posed, to currently head the Owutu Divisional Police Station as Divisional Police Officer (DPO), in one, if not the most volatile and violence-prone parts of Lagos State. That young girl is Margareth Okonkwo.
Perhaps , it might also interest you to know that during the #EndSARS nationwide protests, violence had erupted like a volcano all across the nation after the peaceful protests had been hijacked by more-violence prone individuals, and Ikorodu, being what is, was not exempted from the wanton destruction of property and bloodshed which followed in its wake.
Territorial clashes between two neighbouring areas viz Oglonto and Idi- Iroko had broken with gory tales of Beheadings, Arson, Robbery, Rape and chaos. In fact, such was the brutality and severity of the war that commuters were left stranded as broken bottles from a hijacked but fully loaded 20-foot truck which the warring faction had used in shelling themselves littered the road. Weapons of all make and capacity for destruction were freely used in this most gruesome turf war.
Despite the presence of a Police Station in the area and military operatives manning the Majidun waters ways and environs, none interfered; perhaps out of fear or caution; for these young men were blood-thirsty and vicious.
For days, the killing and looting raged unabated, until one gallant female officer, CSP Margareth Okonkwo decided to take a positive but extremely dangerous risk by setting up a peace meeting between the warring factions and going fearlessly into their midst in a keke NAPEP to parley and eventually restore peace and tranquil back to the area, as you will see in the video below:
Till this very moment, many flabbergasted residents and officials of Road Transport Unions still marvel at the uncanny ability of one woman to suddenly and totally change the indices in a game of death that had wrecked untold losses and grief on the two volatile communities.
Also, during the #EndSARS nationwide protests, CSP Margareth Okonkwo, being fully aware of the volatile nature of Ikorodu generally and the endless possibilities for violence to break suddenly and without warning, defied the odds still, to be physically present and direct affairs of the Law which she swore to manage judiciously and without fear and prejudice. Having listened to speeches and songs, the protesting youths embarked on their freedom march to town, but hours later on their return journey, the drama really kicked-off as thousands upon thousands of peaceful youths and some others with devious intentions marched back to the station to strongly protest Police Brutality as well as to call out some male police officers whom the youths alleged of constant extortion. At some point, the youths became emboldened and were soon dancing on the police patrol vehicle and RRS armoured Tank. During this surreal melee, the male officers, fearing for their lives, disappeared, leaving only the woman, the DPO, CSP Margareth Okonkwo, and she stood in solidarity with the youths despite all the brashness and uncertainty. She went, saw and conquered again and even got invited to address the multitude, which she did in flying colors, such that her performance even elicited rancorous applause and at the same time, extinguished the flaming embers of bottled up rage which threatened to overwhelm reason.
In appreciation of her courage and support, some youths also escorted her and body guarded her back to her sanctuary. This incident shed more light on her excellent Human Resources Management skills and her propensity for reason over wrath.
Watch video here:
Perhaps by now, if it hadn’t been for the timely intervention of CSP Margareth OKonkwo, the APC Chairman in Owutu, Ikorodu and another party stalwart could have been dead and buried by now had the irate mass of cultist, hoodlums and incensed residents had their way on the said fateful day.
Angered by perceived injustices of alleged palliatives hoarding and biased sharing, the mob had decided to vent their anger and frustrations on the allegedly corrupt leaders. When reports reached the DPO, CSP Margareth Okonkwo, she immediately scrambled over to the raging scene, calmed the mob and saved the already condemned men. Same thing happened the very next day and again, this wonder Cop was equal to the task.
Finally, for dearth of time and space, tribal clashes between Yorubas and Hausas at Igbo – Olomu area, Owutu, Ikorodu, which should have left many dead and injured was also stymied by the immediate intervention of the DPO whom had quickly gone on a mission of rescuing and evacuating wounded and njured victims to the hospital and even paying their medical expenses from her own purse such that in the end, no casualties were recorded.
The noble efforts of the great female officer of Eastern extraction, CSP Margareth Okonkwo, whom had facilitated the eventual visit of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Muyiwa Odumosu to the troubled area for the first time, for a Townhall Peace Parley with the elders and youths of the warring tribes. Such was the success of the meeting that Igbo-Olomu which is also under the Owutu Police Station’s areas of jurisdiction got a Police Post on the orders of the CP as a result of the lengthy distance between the area and the station.
Nowhere can love, honour and respect be more complete than in the way the people, young and old, of every tribe, tongue and clime, referred to her by many great names like, mother, mama, wonder woman, superwoman, e.t.c. Many more tales of her bravery and dedication to duty abound but these four uncommon feats will surely be written in gold in the history of Owutu and the entire Ikorodu as a whole.
My argument therefore, is that it is about time that more women are given greater leadership roles in Law Enforcement and Policy-Making. CSP Margareth Okonkwo has been able to prove to the whole world that ”what men can do, women can do better!”