3rd August, 2011
Â Rev. Fr. Paul Omotosho, an Assistant Superintendent of Police and Chaplain (Catholic) for the Lagos State Police Command in this interview speaks with EMMANUEL UDOM on the specific functions of police chaplains, his challenging and exciting moments since he resumed as police priest and what to expect in the coming chaplaincy retreat in Lagos.
What has been your experience since you became the Chaplain of the Lagos StateÂ Police Command?
It has been quite challenging and at the same time exciting. I was posted to Zone 2 Police Command as the Chaplain (Catholic) in charge of Lagos and Ogun states. I am a police priest with dual functions of a trained policeman as well a chaplain who is like a spiritual director to police officers in the command.
As Jesus Christ said, the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few, but the Lord of harvest will bring labourers for the harvest. The work is enormous and we are very few.
Police chaplaincy must be built in every police barracks in the state. The chaplaincy has three sections, Catholic, Protestant and Imamcy
All of these are run, coordinated and guided by the police chaplaincy, just like in other security agencies. The bottom line is that the chaplaincy helps to guide against the excesses of some police officers and meets the religious or spiritual needs of the officers .
We also work closely with the Human Rights section of the police and deal with religious signals referred to us by the commissioner of police as well as handle visits by religious leaders to the CP.
You are in charge of the Catholic arm. Who are in charge of other arms?
There are other churches and mosques at the police command and barracks manned by competent police officers that cater for the spiritual needs of the officers. But we plan to ensure that in each police barracks, there is a Catholic church, a protestant and a mosque.
I am the chaplain, the master servant for the Lord here at the command. As a Catholic priest, I am in charge of St Anthony Catholic Church here at Highway Patrol Quarters in Ikeja. The church was built by St Leo Catholic Church, but when I came here we had to construct the grotto, modern toilet and also sink a borehole for both the parishioners and residents.
Here, I celebrate mass everyday. You see, a priest must be thoroughly trained for between 10 to 16 years both in Nigeria and Rome before being allowed by the Catholic Church to conduct mass.
I also conduct mass at Obalende, Ikeja and Ketu police barracks in addition to conducting mass in Eleweran Police Command headquarters in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Apart from the mass, what else does the chaplaincy do?
In addition to the mass and series of meetings and counselling, we here at the chaplaincy do visit suspected criminals in their various cells to counsel and pray for them. We also talk to them on the need to confess and forsake their sins. We do visit motherless babies homes and orphanages with spiritual and material gifts for the inmates. These gifts are donated by godly police officers for the less privileged members of the society
In the next couple of days, we will be having a retreat for all police chaplains as well as chaplains from our sister security agencies at the Police College in Ikeja.
What is the retreat all about?
The retreat is an annual event for all chaplains across Nigeria to come together to pray and rub minds on the peculiar challenges they are faced with and proffer solutions to them. December last year, we had a similar event for chaplains from security agencies across the country and senior armed forces top shots.
At the end of this retreat, we will meet with the Cardinal, who is the head of the chaplaincy, from whom we will receive further encouragement and prayers for our duties.