Deputy Superintendent of Police,Ngozi Conchita Braide assumed office nine months ago as the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer. She was the first female officer to occupy such position, having been in the Police Force for over 12 years.
She joined the Nigeria Police in 1996 as a Cadet Inspector and attended several professional courses within and outside Nigeria.She attended the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Academy, Atlanta, United States where she obtained a certificate in International Post-blast Investigation in 2000.
She also attended a course in Psychotraumaology, debriefing and diffusing course in Switzerland in 2001. She was also part of a prosecution course at the Nigeria Police Detective College, Enugu in 1999 and successfully participated in two United Nations Peace Keeping Operations and was also in UNMIK Kosovo in 2000 .
In the United Nations Peace Keeping Operation in Liberia in 2006, she was appointed the head of Finance Unit of the United Nations Police and also served with International Criminal Police Organisation, INTERPOL, between 1999 – 2003.
At INTERPOL, she was attached to Organized Crime Division, OCD and from 2003 to 2007, worked at Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) and Special Fraud Unit (SFU from 2007 – 2012.
In her current assignment as Police PRO in Lagos, she has recorded achievements and challenges.In this interview with SATURDAY VANGURAD, she shares her experiences and her challenges and how she has been able to cope.
How has it been since you commenced this assignment?
To me, I would say it has been very interesting. I have no regrets being here. In about three months to come, I would be celebrating one year in the office. And just like I told you when I started the job, I would not fail because I love what I am doing. I would be up and doing, I have learnt a lot just like I told you nine months ago.I still welcome advice from anybody:journalists, the public and also from my colleagues. Their advice have really helped me a lot. So, it has been very interesting. I have been enjoying every bit of my stay here.
What have been your major challenges in the office?
Yes, in any establishment you work, there must be challenges and what you need is God’s grace, faith and no condemnation. If people start saying that you are a very nice person, that you don’t have problems, you should know that you are not doing anything.
My belief is, in any establishment you find yourself and everybody is praising you, you should know that you are not doing anything. If you are doing the right thing, not everybody would like you.Some people would just hate you. That is one of the challenges but, I do not see it as a challenge. At times, people are being impatient. For instance, when they are trying to confirm a story. If a story just broke up and you are trying to get concrete information about the story, the people would be mounting pressure on you because, they are under pressure from their bosses.
Maybe you are trying to tell them to give you sometime to do a proper investigation that the D.P.O in charge of the case cannot handle it alone and they fail to understand, that is really another challenge; people not believing in you especially members of the public even when you are trying to tell them the truth. That is a very big challenge. Because they have this poor notion about the police, when you are trying to explain to them, they will believe that you are lying to them.
Has the relationship between police and the general public improved?
Yes, you should be able to say that. The IGP and Lagos CP are very focused. They are real about the issues affecting the people.
The problem in the country is corruption and these two people I am working with are here to turn around things for good. The IGP has very wonderful ideas. Discipline is the major thing in this profession, and the rate of discipline in this job is very high now. We have assessed the areas where we feel are behind,and I think we have improved in those areas. We are very free with members of the public. It is left for the public to judge us in this respect, but if you ask me, I would say that we have really improved in all areas.
What areas are you talking about now?
In terms of ensuring security in the state, relating with members of the public, fighting corruption and the extortion we were always accused of.
You would see that it is difficult to associate all those things with us these days.
Generally, in terms of fighting corruption, crimes and so on, we have improved.
I don’t know whether you were able to see our crime statistics last year, you would find out that the crime rate reduced very well here in Lagos State.The crime rate was very low in 2012 compared to how it was in 2011.
This means our men are more serious and we also want to sustain the legacy of the state governor. The governor has been quite wonderful in terms of giving equipment to the police command.
There is this issue of the police working in conjuction with the Lagos State Government to dispossess poor okada riders, of their means of livelihood.
It was not just the governor that made that law. He also consulted with other people like the Local Government Chairmen and other people in authority. When they met, they discovered that there are several disadvantages in these motorcycles(Okada business),than the advantages.
Okada riders were involved in different kinds of crime. We found out that 90% of robbery cases last year was committed with okada. You discover that in the day, they will rob with the okada. Because of the type of traffic we have here in LagosState, it would become impossible to pursue them with vehicles.
They use okada to go to banks to rob, they kidnap and cause high rate of accidents.
They do all sorts of things. They do not obey traffic laws. There is a law that was meant for okada riders but they do not obey anything. They don’t understand what traffic law is all about. In fact, they constituted nuisance. To me, the ban of okada on certain routes is one of the best decisions the government has taken.
They did not ban it on all the roads. It is only on some routes but you will still see them plying the banned routes. The next thing, they will try to lie against the police that they have been arrested on the roads that they have not been banned from.
There are lots of things that the law said. It is not just don’t ply this route or that. If you are plying the appropriate route and you are still violating some of the rules stated on the road, you would be arrested. You see them carrying a pregnant woman which is against the law, or carrying a child below 12 years, some of them don’t wear their crash helmets and as soon as an accident happens, they would die instantly because, they would hit their heads on the ground immediately.
They also carry overload, more than one person on the bike. We also found out that most of the motorcycles are not registered. You know, the general public do not take note of all these things. Most of them don’t have rider’s permit, you see them carrying load in front of the motorcycles making it impossible for them to ride well. In this case, both the okada rider and the passenger are offenders. So, we are assisting the government to make sure that the laws are obeyed.
What would you say you have done differently since you assumed office?
Well, when I assumed office, I established a radio programme for the command, “Lagos Crime Broadcast” where we interact with the general public every Wednesday by 10:30 am- 11:00 am on 103.5 FM here in Ikeja. So, I am always on air every Wednesday to talk with the general public and enlighten them on some issues. They also call me and ask questions, lay their complaints and we also discuss.It is an interactive session. I can say that this was created to bridge this gap in the police. I have equally gone to some schools to speak to students about this career. I still have other things I intend to achieve. It will be my desire to look behind and be happy with what I have done. I am still working on a whole lot of things.
There have been several reports against you in the internet. Would you react to some of these allegations about you fighting in public and other negative things?
I am going to answer you. It is so unfortunate how people would wake up and want to run somebody down. There is this scenario that happened to me two weeks ago. One lady came to me and said she has a scandalous story against me and that I should give her N200, 000 so she wouldn’t publish the story, that the story is very bad. She alleged that the case is in court and that she even has pictures of where I was fighting in the public during the period of President Jonathan’s visit to the PoliceCollege at Ikeja. I told her that I was not in town during that period. She said that my breast was open in the pictures she had. The funniest thing was that the reporter said the thing happened in January and she called just two weeks ago. How come she was the only person who has the story? I told her that any story that can lead to stripping naked and soiling of clothes must not be an exclusive, that people must have heard of it, that I was not around the day she said the incident happened. So, I told her to go ahead and publish the story that I don’t have money. She said that it was a very bad story. I quickly called her editor. I told her editor that this is what I am passing through. The editor sympathized with me and told me that he was going to take care of it. You know, when she said that, I was provoked and my voice went up high, I was like, which story was that? I was shocked, the Crime Writers Association of Nigeria president came in with two other journalists. You can verify that. Whatever I am telling you now, you can verify that. I knew this lady personally. She is a freelancer for one newspaper. She came to me a week after that incident because, my office according to her, is a public office. So she just walked in and started asking me why I don’t invite her for parades again.
You needed to see the manner this girl just barged into my office. I was discussing with three people and she just walked in. I can even mention the names of the people that were with me when she walked in. She said that I am not behaving the way other PPRO behaved, that I have done two press briefings without inviting her. I told her that if I want anything , I would talk to her editor and not her. After trying to defraud me, she still expects me to invite her for press briefings. So, I told her that if I want to call anybody for any parading, I would call her editor to send somebody who would not want to frame me up. She said that the office is a public office and she hit her hands on my table. If you go to some of these online media, they reported all these things I am telling you. She even put the name of the newspaper she is freelancing for. Three other journalists who were there when the whole thing was happening pleaded with her that she should leave the office for me. She came to provoke me so that she can use the story with which she wanted to extort money from me. So, she fleft the office and after she left, her editor called me and apologized on her behalf.
The next day, I started receiving calls that I was fighting in the office. I didn’t fight. Go to the command, carry out the investigation yourself. Start with my commissioner and every other person in the Lagos command. Nothing like that ever happened. As you leave my office now, go and find out yourself. I was shocked when I heard that. I said, is this what this world is turning into? The internet has gone so bad that anybody posts whatever he/she wants on the internet.
Let me tell you, from the way things are going, in the next 10 years, you would see every citizen of this country having a blog on the internet.
Other blogs just collected the story and kept escalating it without verifications. Nothing like that happened. For me to fight to the extent of tearing my clothes and going naked? People must have seen that and nobody saw it. It is a very big lie. She even said that I brought out a dagger to stab her. Let me tell you something, I am not angry with her. She has succeeded in making me stronger. They should know that I was not elected or appointed to this office. I pass through interviews where I met many officers from the command. If you look at my profile, you will see that I have achieved a lot in this career. I have passed through many commissioners. They were like my direct supervisors. And they will tell you about me. I know what to do and when to do it. I went for promotion course in Jos in 2009. We were over 2000 and I came second and I was called out and appreciated.Nobody wrote the exams for me. I was there for two months studying and I did very well in the exams. Then how can someone come here and say that I came here because, I have something in common with a commissioner of police and she was bold enough to mention the commissioner’s name? That was what she went to the internet to put. The voting that brought me to Lagos was strictly a state voting. It was not a Federal Government voting. It is so unfortunate that somebody can put that online.
But what gave her the confidence to walk in here without fear of being arrested?
You know, when I asked her to leave my office, she went to the internet and said that I ordered her out of my office, that this is a public office. She believes that the office is for the general public. She walked in and was shouting at me. I said please, leave my office, you can’t be shouting at me in my office and she said she would not leave. Then, the following day, she went online.
Was there any reaction from your superiors regarding what happened?
No, because they were all surprised. It is just that I am not angry with her and I do not bear any grudges against her. My CP was very surprised. I was even the person who told him what I was passing through in his office on Monday. He was so surprised. Already, she had gone to say that they gave me query. Meanwhile, there was no such thing.
Are you demoralized by what happened?
Like I told you before, it didn’t demoralise me. It rather made me stronger. People were calling me and I kept telling them that nothing like that happened. I also told myself, don’t be discouraged, it is the handiwork of Satan. I want to reassure people that I am here to serve the public and I would serve them better. What happened has given me the courage to do more work and the courage to be a man instead of the woman I am. It is not going to pull me down.
As a career woman, family issues would usually try to pull you down, do you have such problem?
Yes, it happens but I won’t really call it a problem. As a responsible mother, I try as much as possible to give my daughter the attention she needs. She is just eight years old. I try to draw the difference between the home and the work because they are the two important things in my life. Especially, I cook the food. Nobody cooks for me. I drop my daughter off to school every morning. I also make out time to go through her school work at the close of work. Where ever I am going during the weekend, I always go with my daughter. I owe her that.