In terms of crime, Ogun State could be compared with Lagos State because of proximity to the borders and other countries. In fact, police authorities go extra length in making a choice of their officers that man these states. Today, Ogun, just like Lagos State, can boast of a capable hand as their Police helmsman. The Commissioner of Police, Ikemefuna Okoye, has, arguably, done well and can say, the state is ‘a no-go-area’ for criminals. He spoke with Emma Nnadozie in Abeokuta. Excerpts:
Ogun State command is fully prepared to fight criminals. In fact, when I came to this command in 2012, based on information I gathered, I knew what to do and I strategized immediately without wasting time. We have to ensure that criminals do not use this state as a launching pad for their nefarious activities.
So, we have been checking them and today, the state is a no- go- area for criminals because they find it very hot here. Ogun State is no area for criminals, as far as I am concerned because we are fully prepared for them, to face any challenges they will bring up.
Basically, what we did was to strategize with all the neighbouring states. We have the patrol team from Lagos command coming over to us, our own going over to their own.
At the Zonal command level, they interface with us so they have their own patrol team coming over to our own. We have that synergy, that collaboration and cooperation among us because policing is everybody’s business. All of us work in synergy to achieve that safety and security.
Facing the challenges
When I assumed duty here, I knew that each command has its peculiarity. For instance, when I came here, some financial institutions were not operating probably for security reasons. Within one week all of them opened and up till today they are still functioning very well, because security is there for them to operate.
Ritual killings, cultism and cross border banditry
We are tackling them seriously. We have achieved a lot in that regard. In fact, the other time we were able to arrest somebody with about 18 human skulls. We arrested him at Adeota. The other time, we heard of a pastor that lured somebody to go to a grave to dig out another skull. They did not know that our satellite was on them. We arrested that person and even the pastor. All of them were charged to court.
Though the issue of cultism is almost every where but in Ogun State, whenever it comes up, we tackle the issue decisively and charge them to court. On the vexed issue of cross border banditry, you should know that we are very close to Benin Republic.
The good news is that we are equal to the task because we have enough patrol vehicles and our men including the border patrol team are battle ready to face them.
In fact,we have been able to arrest a lot of notorious criminals on that road. That was where we arrested the notorious armed robber called Goke. He was in the same gang with Godogodo.
He is even more deadly than Godogodo. He never knew we would arrest him. He was coming from Benin Republic, we just arrested him with other members of his gang.
Though he tried to be funny by trying to lure us to their den but we were able to face them with counter firing. After the arrest, he confessed that he had lost count of the number of people including policemen that he killed. He said he was operating in Oyo, Kwara, Ogun and Bayelsa states. In fact, Lagos command searched for him up to Bayelsa, they did not get him.
Coping with the challenges
Actually in this command the crime rate is down compared with what was obtainable before I came in. You can see that we should give God the glory because of what we are experiencing now. So, crime rate here is relatively low. We have achieved a lot and people are appreciative of our efforts.
The government is doing a lot in terms of logistics because they have provided a lot of patrol vans for us. We also have a large number of APC’s, no other state has the number we have in the country. Yes, I may not tell you the number for security reasons. They expect us to perform and we are performing because the instruments to work are already there.
Coping with politicians
Politics is about human beings and society and politiciansknow that. I have already told them, you should play politics without bitterness because you are there for human beings.
The people, you want to be either a Governor, Senator, or honorable member of the House of Representative, you are there for the people. Therefore, you must do that without bitterness, so that people will love you and you love them, because politics is about what you have, what you don’t have and sharing everything professionally for everybody to be happy.
Boosting morale of policemen in Ogun
Their morale is high. I don’t even want to say anything on that, just go and ask any of them, go round any person you see, just ask, I won’t boast on that. They will tell you.
Effect of IGP’s reformations
We are the disciples of the Inspector- General of police. We are doing what he told us to do and we are following his footsteps. For instance, if you come into this compound, look around and you will see that it is very clean. That is what he wants. On the issue of visibility policing, we are not leaving any stone unturned.
My directives on this are very clear. The IGP taught us how to be visible twenty four hours and this is what we are doing. In Ogun state, all Area Commanders, DPO’s and their men are always seen on the field because I also go out on patrols.
There was a time I was on patrol, I met a family, the wife, husband and children along that Shagamu -Benin express in the night. They had a problem with tyre of their car.
What if I didn’t stop, and something happened to them? What will I tell GOD? So, I stopped with my men, we had to put head light, they started working on that vehicle, after changing the tyre I then told them to follow us. I piloted them from that Shagamu to their destination- Ijebu -Ode and they thanked me.
Then one day, somebody called to say, CP thank you for assisting my people, they told me. It happened that the family I assisted was equally a police family. I never knew, I just did it because I saw people we are supposed to protect, I did my job as a police man. So, there should be presence of police everywhere and that beats down crime.
Assessment of IGP MD Abubakar
Fantastic, unparallelled as far as I am concerned. I keep on saying it, unparallelled, because a lot of changes have been introduced into the police. Fantastic changes, positive changes, so I don’t know how to qualify him.
Checking the excesses of policemen
We do a lot to checkmate their activities . Our men in x-squad are unrelenting over this issue. If you go against our directives or abuse your office, you face the music and we monitor them. Even the issue of improper dressing is taken seriously here.
Perception of the Policeman today
Today, we have a police force that we have been crying for. Today, the police are more civil to members of the public. They are more polite. They have shown that they are there to serve members of the public. And that is why we have what we call community policing.
It means let the people, the community know that the issue of security is not only police business, it is everybody’s business. Everybody has a stake in policing, that is why we have community policing and it has assisted us a lot. Members of the public will now have total confidence in us and are ready to supply information that help in combating crime.
Synergy with other security agencies
We have been collaborating and cooperating mutually. We meet regularly to review events and issues.
Stemming clashes between herdsmen and the people
We have a way to make sure the clash is not as in other places. We have meetings with them. I mean the Fulanis. We have their phone numbers and we interact regularly with both their leaders and their men so that if there is any problem, we quickly thrash it out. I always visit them at Yawa and Aiyetoro and they are always happy to see me. These Fulanis, they have the right to be in any part of the country and community. We should see ourselves as brothers and sisters.