The Life of Louis Edet: The First Indigenous Inspector General of Police in Nigeria

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As a police officer, Louis Edet was known for his competence, integrity and discipline. He was also an agitator for police reforms in Nigeria, having studied abroad to have a better view of modern policing. He wanted for Nigeria a modern police Force.

The current headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force, located in the heart of Abuja, is named “Louis Edet House” in his honour. Louis Edet served as the Inspector General of Police from 1964 to 1966. Today, 22 IGPs have occupied the position.

Louis Edet: The First Inspector General of Police in Nigeria

Louis Edet: First Indigenous Inspector general of Police in Nigeria
Chief Louis Orok Edet

Early Life & Education of Louis Edet

Louis Orok Edet was born on 29 August 1913 in Duke Town, Calabar (present-day Cross River State) to Efik parents. His father was Edet Essien; his mother was Geraldine Orok.

At the time of birth, Nigeria was under colonial domination. Not long after, the Northern and Southern Protectorates were merged in 1914 by the British for administrative and economic efficiency.

Due to uncertainties at the time, Louis grew up under the close-knit watch of his parents. He received his Primary and Secondary education from the Sacred Heart School, Calabar and Bonny Grammar School, Rivers.

Louis’s Interests in Police Work

It was recorded that Louis Edet did outstandingly better in Physical Education and other learning subjects. He soon developed an interest in Police work.

Louis Edet was one of the first indigenous persons to be enrolled into the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). He joined the NPF as a clerk in 1931 when recruiters from the United Kingdom still headed the Force.

From there, Louis served in the various formations and departments of the Police Force. He once served as an orderly to the Governor General at the time — taking charge of the security of the unit or camp for a day.

In August 1945, he was promoted to the rank of sub-inspector. Later, in 1947, he was sponsored to the United Kingdom for training at the Bramshill Police College. After a successful completion of his training, Louis was adjudged to possess ideal values, discipline and remarkable braveness.

Louis Edet’s Rose to Ranks

On his return to Nigeria, he was transferred to the western provinces and was promoted to the rank of Assist Superintendent of Police (ASP) in 1949. 

In 1953, 1957 and 1960, Louis Edet went to Rython-on-Dunsmore, a town in England, to take more courses. At each completion of his courses, he returned to Nigeria to continue his police work.

His passion to be of service to Nigeria did not go unnoticed. Louis Edet was first promoted to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police and then to the Deputy Commissioner in 1960.

In December 1960, the United Nations was garnering support from the police of selected countries to bring an end to the restiveness that was prevalent in Congo at the time. Louis Edet was among those selected from the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). He commanded the 1st Contingent of the NPF to serve under the United Nations in the Congo.

Due to his credibility, in 1961, he was again promoted to Commissioner of Police and was in charge of the police in the Federal Capital which was in Calabar at the time. From there, Sir Louis was Promoted to Deputy inspector-general in 1962.

Louis Edet became the IGP

Before 1 April 1964, the Inspector General of Police in Nigeria was an expatriate named J.E Hodge. 1964 marked four years after Nigeria attained independence from the British. It was thus bizarre that after four years, Nigeria’s Police Force was still headed by an expatriate.

Nigerians and the Nigerian Government felt it was high time an indigenous officer who was well-trained took over the office of the Inspector General. This was when the draw singled out Louis Edet. He was considered fit for the position.

On the 1st of April 1964, Louis was appointed the IGP. By this singular action, Louis Edet beat the odds to become the first Inspector General of Police in Nigeria. Louis Edet served in this position from 1964 till 1966 when a military coup broke out in Nigeria.

During this period, Louis Edet was asked to resign. Due to the rising crisis, Dikko Yusufu became the acting Inspector General. Not long after, he was replaced by Kam Salem who served as the second Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police from 1966 to 1975 under the military government of Yakubu Gowon.

After Louis Edet’s Retirement

Upon his retirement from the office of the IGP in 1966, Mr Louis Edet was appointed Recruitment Attaché in the Nigerian High Commission in London, UK. He held this position till 1968, where he was responsible for various recruitment or hiring activities.

From 1968 to 1972, Louis Edet served as the Commissioner for Home Affairs and Information in the then South-Eastern State. After the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), he spent his time devoted to the humanitarian duty of resettling all the Biafran war refugees.

During the years of his service, Louis Edet received several awards and commendations for the impact he has made at home and abroad. He was given the award of the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR)

He was also conferred the award of the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) and the Queen’s Police Medal (QPM) by the now-late Queen Elizabeth.

Mr Louis Orok Edet died on 17 January 1979 leaving behind an indelible footprint in Nigeria’s history.

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