His task as the Commissioner of Police in-charge of Explosive Ordinance Device, EOD, was tasking. He was, however, able to surmount the challenges at a time insurgency was at its apogee. Suddenly, he was posted to Imo State as the police helmsman, a state facing kidnapping and armed robbery challenges, among others. His choice was seen as a step in the right direction based on the achievements he recorded while heading EOD. CP Abdul Mahid Ali bared his mind to our Crime Editor, Emma Nnadozie, in Owerri. Excerpts:
Posting as a challenge
First of all, I need to thank you for the support you have been giving me, particularly when I was at the bomb unit. Your contribution has helped to uplift the EOD section and the innovation that was made while I was there. My coming here is a challenge in the sense that, moving from the volatile EOD, particularly when you have a situation of attacks by insurgents to an area where kidnapping, child stealing, armed robbery is the order of the day. Definitely, it is a different ball game and you have to change your tactics and mode of operation.
Surmounting the challenges
I am not new to crime-fighting. I am a crime-fighter and, before being posted to EOD, I have been on the field; I have contributed my dues particularly when I was the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Ogun State where robbery was the order of the day. Coming here is to use the experience I have to fight crime and criminality.
Assessment of crime in Imo
Honestly, it’s not as bad as people talk about. Imo is a peaceful place, the people are lovely and, since my arrival here, we have not recorded any major incident. What we have are skirmishes particularly in the area of child stealing and kidnapping and, from assessment, we discovered that most of the kidnapping are stage-managed; it’s inside operations where the house boy planned to kidnap the master, where a woman planned to steal the neighbor’s child.
We have been able to go round and sensitize the people to be very careful and warn their wards to watch the type of group they keep and also advise people to watch their back whenever they move around. I have set up a crack team which I call ‘Scorpion’, basically to fight crime and to ensure that we keep Imo away from hoodlums.
I named the team ‘Scorpion’ because they sting, they go into operation for all those people in hiding, they comb the bush to ensure that the places those people use as camps are continuously raided and ensure that hoodlums and miscreants are arrested. My predecessor had called his team ‘Ambush’ and I call mine ‘Scorpion’. ‘Ambush’ connotes a lot of things while the ‘Scorpion’ also has its own brand of operation and they have different modes of operation and specific mandates.
The mandate of ‘Scorpion’ is to go after kidnappers, robbers and fish them out. We have made a lot of arrests; the team is headed by a Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, we have a monitoring team as well, headed by a Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP. The monitoring team is to monitor the police itself. We also have this human rights group which I resuscitated. The mandate is to go round the divisions and see the people detained and ensure that the surrounding of the police stations are clean. The human rights group puts the DPOs on their toes to ensure that necessary things are put in place.
IGP’s visibility policing directive
The IG’s visibility policy is in line with the setting up of the ‘Scorpion’ team. The IG has a vision and mission for Nigeria Police. The agenda has assisted the police in many ways; when the IG has given you a marching order, who are you to look back? I never looked back on the directives of the IG and that has been what has been keeping me on, his style of operation, administration and public relations need to be emulated.
We don’t have roadblocks anymore, we only engage in stop-and-search. Though before my coming, my predecessor did a good job as well in keeping the state calm; he was able to bulldoze into many of the activities of these underground men and many of them fled the state . So, it is my intention to keep up the tempo.
So far, MASSOB has been calm; and we have not had any incident or any report even from their base in Okigwe; we don’t have any problem with them. Since my arrival here six weeks ago, I have told the people of Imo that my vision is to ensure that the state is safe and to see that business continues to thrive because, when I came in, I found out that Owerri has become some kind of a melting point where people love to come down to. . If you come here on weekends, you can’t believe what you see, people come from all walks of life to relax here and it is the responsibility of the police to ensure that they and the state are safe.
Managing the relationship with those in power
I know I am in a state led by the opposition, that has nothing to do with my policing as my main purpose here is to fight crime and criminality. I am not a politician. I have warned politicians that I won’t tolerate political rascality. I will provide a level playing ground for politicians. They have no option than to adapt to the new situation because this is a new ball game.
Synergy with other security agencies
We have synergy with other security officials in the state. When I came, I visited the brigade commander, the SSS, the NDLEA, and other sister agencies, we have been working together; we exchange ideas whenever we meet.
Assessment of the police leadership
The present leadership is fantastic; in fact, I am short of words to describe our indefatigable IG. He is a man that you have to copy and I do say that we are very unfortunate not to have this man before now. This is a man that could have changed the police completely. He has, within a short period, changed the concept and image of the Nigeria Police. He is a man that has vision; he is ever and I am convinced about anything he’s doing. He never jokes with the welfare of his men; he is ever ready to equip the police to the teeth as well as fight crime and criminality to the lowest level.
You can see the surrounding of the headquarters, you see that we love good things; Nigeria Police needs good life and people should not see us as beggars. And we want maximum cooperation from the people, they should see us as partners in progress, they should know that we are human beings like them. Information is very important, they should pass information to us freely for us to act.
How to be remembered
By the time I leave this office, I would like to be remembered as a man who came to serve in Imo and changed the concept of policing into one that is people friendly, a man who made the police visible all over the state, and changed the structure and look of the command. I want to be remembered as a man people felt free to come to his office.
My office is permanently open to members of the public, people come to me; in-fact, I don’t book appointment, you are free to come any time, any day. I want people to cooperate more with the police because, with them, we can achieve our goal.
Who is Abdul Mahid Ali?
He is an police officer who has served the NPF for almost 27 years now in various capacities. I am happily married with children, I see myself as a crime fighter.