By Emma Nnadozie and Ifeanyi Okolie
A session with Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo, isÂ like having a lecture on policing.Â The police boss will so entrap his listeners to a point where you may not know when you will shout kudos for the police force.
In fact, the temptation reared up at the conference hall of the Corporate Headquarters of Vanguard Newspapers, Kirikiri Canal, Apapa, Lagos, when he came visiting.Â One of the editors voiced out that listening to him and his public relations officer nearly made her conclude that all was well with the Police force.
However, beneath the niceties and grandiloquence of the Police boss, also a lawyer, one sees a man eager to deliver the best in terms of crime fighting to the populace.Â He really knows his onions and from all indications, the sky is his limit in the force.
On The Killing Of Journalists
I agree with you that we have suffered that kind of loss of lives particularly, that of journalists. In the past two years, we have lost two journalists there and it was painful enough because every life is precious.Â Well, the area where the killings took place,Â Area G, is the biggest area command in Lagos State and it is densely populated.Â Â Some ofÂ the streets are unclassifiedÂ and 80 per cent of the houses there, IÂ donâ€™t think if they have approvals.Â So, the houses are as riotous as the human beings there.
So, the place is densely populated andÂ of courseÂ you know there is a strong correlation with population density,Â and crime. That is why we have been able to push in so many vehicles into the area.Â Â We have created so many divisions as to enhance police presence.
When I came on board,Â I felt,Â look, if you mustÂ police Lagos State effectively, you cannot police Lagos as a class room teacher, where you teachÂ till 2:30pm and then you wash the chalk out of your hand, go and take your siesta and all that. You must be on ground 24 hours to enhance visibility of policemen.Â Â Of course, it willÂ deter criminalsÂ and so,Â we have been able to reduce incidence of violent crime in that area.
Donâ€™t forget we share a common boundary with Ogun State and of course,Â you know how porousÂ it has been.Â Â We donâ€™t have any barrier.Â Â In fact,Â when you are going to Ogun, you wonâ€™t know when you have crossed the border. So, indeed weâ€™ve lost Bayo Ohu there and we lost him, of course we all know the story. We assured members of the public that, by the grace of God,Â we are going to track down the killers of Bayo Ohu.
And weÂ went about it very systematically.Â Â We did not make too much noise this time around because when the other journalist was killed, so much noise was made and I think those who should not be part of investigation hijacked it and they really messed it up.Â So, this time around, we decided not to say a word.Â Â We were able to track down some of the killers. We recoveredÂ the laptop and the handset.
In fact,Â before we alerted the media that we arrested them, we had already recorded their confessional statements which was aired by Crime Fighters. But before we got them out for parade, one of them alerted us look,Â they had decided in the cell that they are going to deny all they said before and all that and off course,Â it is typical of hardened criminals.Â Once you bring them before the glare of the public, they would want to feign ignorance and obscure their criminal arrangement.Â We were able to track down the killers of BayoÂ untilÂ recently this other incident occurred, off course,Â you know the circumstances surrounding the death of this chap.
We thank God that the brother was there to give us the story.Â Â If the brother was not there, there would have been a repetition of same story of whether he was assassinated or what ever. TheÂ brother was there and he told us the story clearlyÂ as it happened.
That when the hoodlums came, he was the first person that they saw and they didnâ€™t ask him for his brother.Â Â What they asked him for was money and when he told them there was no money, they didnâ€™t fire at him.Â Â So, when the brother came out and he got to know what they were asking for, he got angry and he attempted to walk them out of his room.Â Â I know the pen is mightier than the swordÂ but not at all times and he, the chap, infuriated the hoodlums and they pulled the trigger in anger.
Having said that,Â it was a very a painful incident and we had some meeting with your members and the entire members of the investigation team.Â Â It was in Lagos and we are very transparent.Â Our transparency is par-excellence.Â Â When ever any thing happens,Â we have nothing to hide.
I believe it is the responsibility of every one of us to ensure the safety of lives and property and that is the whole gamut of community policing.Â We throw the card on the table and they say two heads are better than one. So, we believe in collaboration and cooperation.
We have set up a team on this matter and this team is looking for clues very prayerfully and some of you are participants in this investigation and I am very sure, by the grace of God, we will win.Â Â Â We will be able to track them down. We are progressing steadily and by the grace of God we are going to get there.
If you lookÂ at the statistics of crime in Lagos State, of course, we all know that the population of Lagos State is about 18 million.
I have my graph here.Â Â IfÂ I show them to you, you will know that yes, we have not been doing very badly. The problem is that once an incident that is a bit ugly occurred, we tend to forget the good record we have established in the past.Â ButÂ I think if we try to balance it withÂ the past, it will be better for us, so that we can position it in a more accurate future.
We know of South Africa,Â what happens there almost on a daily basis withÂ the number of killings there.Â Â We never report it andÂ then you see Nigerians going there to buy houses even though the place is riotous and chaotic- crime wise butÂ they blow aÂ new trumpetÂ to it. Here of course, in Lagos I must say, Iâ€™ve always said this thing, the level of reporter- abilityÂ isÂ about 100 percent, becauseÂ if a pin drops on the ground, of course the mediaÂ would pick it.Â We enjoy it because we are able to assess ourselves, evaluate ourselves,Â to know whether we are doing well or not,Â because you are our mirror.
You canâ€™t compare Lagos with any other state inÂ the country, because we have all the media houses here,Â every street weÂ have a reporter.Â If any thing happens, of course,Â the story isÂ always in the news. We are not as privileged as those in obscure areas where thingsÂ happen almost on daily basis and nobody hears about it, but it is good for us because it enables us to evaluate ourselvesÂ more accurately so that we donâ€™tÂ begin to over rate or over estimate ourselves. But I think, so far so good.
God has been on our side and I am sure you have been doing very well too. We have been collaborating very effectivelyÂ and we have every courseÂ to rejoice. You should play along with us, so thatÂ the killers of this chap will be tracked down. It is in our interest that they should be tracked down and it is our responsibility and we cannot afford to fail, not only the police, even the media. We are all stakeholdersÂ and we have common interest.
Rate Of Crime In Lagos
When I came on board, the first thing I did was to computerizeÂ crime, because, of course, I tookÂ a couple of courses inÂ criminology,Â and weÂ have the problem of this dark figure you know, where you are not able to capture all the dataÂ and then you are just fumbling with some data.and then the dark figureÂ is large enough to make a mess of what you have. So, what I did was to make sure I computerize crime as much as possible.
If anything happens anywhere, it goes into my computerÂ and then we print them out and we are able to evaluate ourselves. Having said that, we also rolled out a mission statement of zero crime levelÂ and because these are officers, IÂ have not really led them before andÂ you know I am their CP and some of them have not been CP.Â Â Â So, they needÂ to know what I stand for.
I rolled out a mission statement of whichÂ I said every body must run with, that is zero tolerance for crime and I took them along.Â Like I always say,Â if you are a leader and you are going ahead and you look back no one is following you, you are still taking a stroll.Â Â I made sure I took the men along and made them key into the mission statement and computerized crime to enable us evaluate ourselves on regular basis to see how wellÂ we were doing.
We have the statistics with us and it will please you to discover that I have analysis for three years, 2007, 2008, 2009 and, of course, this year. I have the graphs here and you know I am a child of God andÂ I want to make heaven.Â I donâ€™t believe in lying.Â Â If you are a liar, you are going to hell.Â Â So, what I have hereÂ is just a token, this is 2007, (showing a graph) you can see the stick there.Â We are talking about the numberÂ of bank robbery incidents.Â Â In fact, if you ask a banker he will confirm what I am telling you now.
In 2007, we have the figure here.Â Â You can see how the graph is moving down very rapidly as if it is in a hurry.Â In 2008,Â we gotÂ to this level ( downward level) and in 2009 we got to this level (still going down) and this year, it is here(zero level).Â Â This is a very, veryÂ important index and nobody can contest it.Â Â The bankers are there, you can ask them if you think this man is telling a lie.Â Having said that, of course, the higher the level of crime,Â the higher the number of police fatalities.Â Â Yes, there is a strong correlation between the number of crime and the number of police fatalities.
NowÂ here we are in 2007, you can see the level of crime, it wasÂ similarly going down in a hurry.Â In 2008, we are here, 2009 we are here, now here we are. Of course, this is in line with my mission statement which we are running with zero tolerance. In fact,Â I must add,Â when I rolled out this mission statement,Â so many people doubted me.Â Some officers started asking me, do you know what you are taking about, you are talking about Lagos State where you have all the companies, all the industries ,all the air and sea ports. You areÂ talking about zero tolerance.Â You think it will be realizable?
In fact,Â I had calls from some of my lecturers in Unilag and they asked what I wasÂ taking about.Â They said that you canâ€™t eradicate crime and I said well, you are right to some extent but there is nothing wrong in setting a benchmark for yourself.Â Â You know you have a target and move in it, we used that as a benchmark and evaluate yourself to know what you are doing.
I said I want to move the men along and see how far we can go and we are running with the vision statement in the state rapidly.Â Â So, you can see that all graph are going down.Â In summary, I would like to say, so far, so beautifully in Lagos.Â Â But we can still move further because IÂ am a very ambitious man.Â Â I am allergic to crime.Â Â I canâ€™t afford to condone it.Â May be if you know why I joined the police force, you will understand why I have this passion and unquenchable zeal to combat crime.