High Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi-Ebifa (1931-2019)

High Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi-Ebifa, hailing from the Nembe Kingdom, rose to prominence as the first commissioner of police from Bayelsa state. He left a lasting mark on the police force, a legacy that extended from the colonial era through the period of Nigeria’s independence.

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Police Officer

BIRTH AND PARENTAGE

Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi entered the world on the 8th of November, 1931, in Iguanga Opobo, now known as Ikot-Abasi in Akwa – Ibom state. His parents were Alfred Emmanuel Fetepigi and Marie Ransolinah Dionmiegha Fetepigi (nee Iwowari).

Born into a distinguished family, his paternal lineage traced back to Fitapu, the first son of the renowned King Amaran of Kaiama in Kolokuma/Opokuma local government area, Bayelsa state. Due to conflict in Kaiama, Fitapu sought refuge in Brass, where he flourished as a successful trader. The Nembe chiefs later changed his name from Fitapu to Fetepigi for pronunciation convenience. On the maternal side, Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi’s grandfather was Chief Alfred Omie Iwowari, the son of Chief Iwowari and Aganaba Igbo Christiana. His paternal grandmother, hailed from the Waribugo family in the Cameron group of houses of Cameron-ama in Twon-Brass.

His maternal grandfather was Chief Alfred Omie Iwowari, the son Chief Iwowari and Aganaba Igbo Christiana. Alfred Omie Iwowari reproduced Marie Ransolinah Dionmiegha Iwowari who was the mother of Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi-Ebifa. His maternal grandmother was Tuboesinyun the daughter of Ine Dauerigha Duguruyai the younger sister of king Ebifa Tuboesinyun had several children amongst whom was Marie – the mother of the late Chief Itongha George Fetepigi and the late Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi-Ebifa.

EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION

The formative years of Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi-Ebifa were marked by challenges and significant events. In 1939, when he was still a child of less than 10 years, his mother took him from Opobo to Nembe to attend the funeral of her late uncle, Michael Olu Iwowari, who was the father of the late King Ralph Iwowari.

Upon their return from the funeral, unforeseen circumstances compelled his mother to stay in Nembe rather than return to Egwanga Opobo as initially planned. Faced with the difficulties of life, she engaged in petty trading to support Samuel’s education and well-being. His elder brother, Itongha George Fetepigi, played a crucial role by sending a monthly allowance of ten (10) shillings for Samuel’s schooling.

Samuel began his formal education at the Native Authority School in 1940. However, six months later in 1941, the school was closed down, leading him to enroll at Zion Mission School, also known as Harry’s School. Subsequently, in 1942, he attended Bassambiri Clan School, owned by Samuel Ovuru, where he completed standard two. From 1944 to 1946, he studied at Swedenburg (New Church Mission) School, reaching Standard Five (5). Continuing his educational journey, in 1949, he attended St. Luke’s School Ogbolomabiri, where he obtained his Standard (6) certificate.

In 1950, Samuel took on a teaching role at Swedenburg School in Bassambiri. In early 1951, he was slated to go to Owo for Teacher Training, but instead, he chose to join his elder brother, Itongha George Fetepigi, in Lagos, Western Nigeria. Itongha had returned from overseas and was residing and working in Lagos at that time.

While waiting to secure employment in May 1951, Samuel engaged in typing and shorthand tutorials under the guidance of Mr. Uwache, a verbatim reporter with the National Assembly at Racecourse, Lagos. Later in September 1951, he undertook the entrance examination into the Police College in Ikeja. Among the one hundred candidates who participated, Samuel emerged as the top scorer, with twenty candidates passing the examination. His formal training at the Police College commenced on the 1st of October, 1951.

CAREER IN THE POLICE

Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi embarked on his journey in the Nigerian Police Force by enlisting as a Recruit Constable and undergoing rigorous training at the Police College in Ikeja. After completing his training in April 1952, he was assigned to the Wharf at Marina as a third-class Constable. Concurrently, while fulfilling his duties as a Constable, he recognized the importance of self-improvement and engaged in personal study. His commitment led him to sit for and successfully pass the General Certificate of Education (GCE), further enhancing his qualifications.

In the early months of 1954, his dedication and hard work earned him a promotion to the rank of second-class Constable. Subsequently, from August to December of the same year, he attended a refresher course at the Police College in Ikeja, solidifying his knowledge and skills. Upon completing the refresher course in January 1955, he was posted to A’ Division in Lagos. His commendable performance led to another posting in August 1955, this time to the force headquarters FCB.

In October 1956, Samuel was transferred to the Federal Territory ‘D’ division in Lagos. By July 1957, he found himself at ‘A’ Division, Ebute Ero, where, despite his rank as a Constable, he was entrusted with the responsibility of managing exhibits—a duty typically reserved for a Corporal.

His career continued to ascend as he was promoted to Lance Corporal in October 1957 and to the rank of Corporal in June 1958. Demonstrating his commitment to continuous improvement, he attended a refresher course at the Police College in Ikeja in August 1958. Following this, in October 1958, he achieved another milestone by being promoted to the rank of Sergeant. His skills and leadership qualities were acknowledged when he was posted to Lion Building, where he carried out the responsibilities of an Inspector despite holding the rank of Sergeant. This demonstrated not only his competence but also the trust and confidence placed in him by the force.

In July 1959, Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi pursued further professional development by attending the Inspectorate promotion course at the Police College in Ikeja. Following the successful completion of the course, he earned a well-deserved promotion to the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police on the 1st of October 1959. His next assignment led him to Apapa Police Station, where he served in the Crime Division as the Aliens Officer—a position he held as the last uniformed officer in this role.

His career trajectory continued to ascend, and in November 1969, he attained the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP). By June 1970, he found himself in the ‘A’ Department in Lagos. However, in August 1971, a transfer took him to the Mid-Western states, where he served at Obiaja station in Afemume Onwan in the Ishan Province. His commitment and achievements led to another transfer in December 1971, back to Lagos, where he was posted to the Force CID Alagbon Ikoyi. In July 1972, he achieved the rank of Superintendent of Police.

From 1972 to early 1975, Samuel was stationed in Lagos state, contributing his expertise to the Finance section at Lion Building. The recognition of his dedicated service continued with a promotion to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police in April 1975. To broaden his knowledge and skills, he attended the Royal Institute of Public Administration in London in October 1975. Upon his return in December 1975, he took on various roles in different police stations, including Apapa and Ajegunle.

In 1976, Samuel Fetepigi received the National Republic and General Service Medal, a testament to his outstanding contributions to the police force. Continuing his impactful journey, he was posted to Bar—Beach Police Station on Victoria Island in October 1977, where he served as the Divisional Police Officer (DPO). His leadership at this strategic location further solidified his reputation as a seasoned and capable law enforcement professional.

The illustrious career of Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi continued to ascend, showcasing his dedication and leadership within the Nigerian Police Force. In 1979, he achieved the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police, a testament to his years of service and exemplary performance. This upward trajectory continued in 1982, as he was promoted to the esteemed position of Deputy Commissioner of Police.

In April 1983, Samuel experienced a shift in his responsibilities as he was transferred from Lagos to the Force Headquarters as the head of the Records and Computer Section. Following this assignment, in May 1983, he assumed a role in the Transport Office at the Force Headquarters in Lagos.

The year 1985 marked another significant milestone in his career as he attained the rank of Commissioner of Police. His expertise and leadership were recognized, leading to his posting to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as the Commissioner of Police.

Subsequently, in December 1986, Samuel was posted to the Force Headquarters in Lagos as the Commissioner of Police in the Directorate of Training. His role in shaping and enhancing the training programs for the police force underscored his commitment to the development of law enforcement personnel.

On the 1st of April 1988, after an illustrious career spanning thirty-five years, Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi made the decision to retire voluntarily. This decision was a testament to his dedication and the culmination of a remarkable journey in service to his nation.

Notably, Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi holds the distinction of being the first substantive Commissioner of Police of Ijaw extraction, a proud achievement that underscores his remarkable career and contributions to the Nigerian Police Force. Throughout his service, he demonstrated meritorious conduct, honor, and integrity, leaving an indelible mark on the history of law enforcement in Nigeria.

LIFE AFTER RETIREMENT

Following his retirement from active service on the 1st of April, 1988, Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi exemplified the spirit of being “retired but not tired.” Far from withdrawing into the quietude of retirement, he remained an active and valuable contributor to various organizations. His expertise was sought as a secretary consultant for numerous organizations and service companies, where he engaged in conducting feasibility studies and played a crucial role in conflict resolution between these establishments and their host communities.

In addition to his consultancy roles, Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi continued to serve with dedication as a committed member of the Association of Retired Police Officers of Nigeria (ARPON), Lagos State Chapter. His involvement in the activities of the association showcased his enduring commitment to the welfare and camaraderie of retired police officers. His contributions to ARPON were particularly noteworthy, as he assumed the role of Chairman for several years, from 2010 to 2017.

During his tenure as Chairman, Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi contributed significantly to the growth and vibrancy of ARPON Lagos State Chapter. His leadership, coupled with the support of other members, fostered a sense of community and provided valuable assistance to the family. In 2017, he handed over the reins to Mr. Aniefiok U. Essiet, a retired Commissioner of Police, who continued the legacy of service and camaraderie within the association.

The members of ARPON Lagos State Chapter, including Mr. Aniefiok U. Essiet, have continued to honor Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi’s memory and legacy by offering support to his family after his passing. His enduring impact, both in the professional realm and within the retired police officers’ community, reflects a life dedicated to service, collaboration, and the betterment of those around him.

THE BECOMING OF CHIEF

The dynamics of chieftaincy in Nembe Bassambiri reflect the unique historical and familial connections that shape such appointments. In 1960, during the time when Berema, one of the children of Ine Daurigha Duguruyai, held the title of Chief Duguruyai, there was a vacancy for the position of Chief Ebifa. At that time, neither Itongha George Fetepigi nor his brother, Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi, was prepared to take on the role, as they were both actively building their careers. Consequently, Berema nominated Pedie Numofagha to fill the position of Chief Ebifa.

Fast forward to 1995, after both Itongha George Fetepigi and Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi had retired from their respective services, they each took on personal chieftaincy titles—Chief Itongha and Chief Dieprie, respectively. However, due to the absence of a king in Nembe Bassambiri at the time, there was no formal ceremony of installation for these titles.

In 2005, a significant shift occurred. By this time, both Chief Pedie Numofagha – Ebifa and Chief Itongha George Fetepigi had passed away, and King Ralph Michael Iwowari had ascended to the throne. Seizing the opportunity, Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi assumed the title of Ebifa, becoming Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi – Ebifa. He held this title until his passing.

Throughout his life, Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi was known for his peaceful nature, his role as a bridge builder, and his willingness to assist others. His entire existence was a testament to these qualities. Even in the absence of a formal chieftaincy title, he lived out the principles associated with such roles, demonstrating a commitment to helping and positively impacting the lives of those around him. His legacy as a generous and compassionate individual persisted until his last breath on earth.

SOCIAL AND FAMILY LIFE

As a child and young adult, Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi – Ebifa experienced a childhood marked by stringent restrictions imposed by his mother. She, perhaps influenced by the fact that she had only two children, and with the elder brother Itongha George Fetepigi having already departed for the city in search of better opportunities, was cautious about allowing him to freely socialize with other children. Despite this, Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi – Ebifa, with his remarkable beauty and elegance, was a figure of awe and admiration, earning love and popularity from all who knew him.

Moreover, Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi – Ebifa demonstrated remarkable qualities as a devoted family man. He lavished affection and attention on his children, ensuring they received a robust educational grounding. This educational base has become the cornerstone upon which they have continued to shape their lives to this day. Regrettably, his eldest child, Late Mrs. Munasuoyun Oluwatoyin Nyananyo, passed away before him, leaving behind Emmanuel, Tuboesinyo, Ine, Inatimi, and Amiete.

Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi – Ebifa’s commitment to his family’s education is reflected in the fact that, by the grace of God, all his children are graduates and thriving in their chosen fields. As a father, he took immense pride and joy in their accomplishments, readily introducing them with happiness and pride on every available occasion. His happiness was derived from the success and well-being of his children, and he embraced the role of a loving and proud father throughout his life.

CHRISTIAN LIFE

After experiencing the full spectrum of life’s joys and challenges, having navigated through thick and thin, rain and shine, Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi – Ebifa reached a point where he found little fulfillment in worldly pleasures. Recognizing the fleeting nature of life and the transient nature of material pursuits, particularly in the twilight years of his active service, he underwent a transformation, turning to piety and dedicating his life to his Creator.

In the evening of his life, having reached the remarkable age of eighty-seven (87) years, Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi – Ebifa embraced a profound spirituality. He acknowledged the transient nature of life, describing it as a fleeting shadow, marked by vanity and vexation of the spirit. This realization led him to a deep connection with his faith and a commitment to his Creator.

Notably, Pastor Isiaku Alkali Sambo played a significant role in Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi – Ebifa’s spiritual journey. Recognizing him as a shepherd and member of his flock, Pastor Isiaku Alkali Sambo watched over him, providing spiritual guidance and support. Together, with his servant of God, Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi – Ebifa maintained a steadfast faith in Jesus Christ. This spiritual transformation became a central focus in the later years of his life, offering solace and purpose as he reflected on the journey he had traversed and found peace in the embrace of his faith.

HIS DEATH

In the year 2001, High Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi-Ebifa faced a formidable challenge when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Miraculously, to the glory of God, he managed to make a full recovery, overcoming this significant health hurdle. Throughout the years that followed, there were several other instances where he faced critical health situations, each time being pulled back from the brink by the grace of God.

In August 2019, despite his previous triumphs over health adversities, Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi-Ebifa began to feel unwell. Seeking medical attention, he underwent his routine cardiology checkup and was subsequently admitted to the hospital for observation. During this time, he was surrounded by the unwavering support of his loving family, siblings, children, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, and others close to him.

Despite the care and support he received, this time, Chief Samuel Dieprie Fetepigi-Ebifa answered the final call from his creator. On the 10th of August, 2019, at the age of 87, he peacefully breathed his last. His life, marked by resilience, faith, and a deep connection with his creator, came to a close, leaving behind a legacy of strength, love, and the enduring impact he had on those who were fortunate to know him.

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Abalijay
"Timeless Persons" is a personal blog project created by me with the aim of sharing the biographies of remarkable individuals from the Niger Delta region and beyond. The blog serves as a platform to captivate and stimulate your thoughts, encouraging reflection on the past, fostering a positive mindset in the present, and inspiring hope for a better future.

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