By Emma Nnadozie
Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Kayode Aderanti, could thumb his chest and say eureka! This is because, his constituency recorded a rare feat in the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections. In the past, elections in the city witnessed skirmishes and violence. This time it ended peacefully. In fact, the police recorded the lowest number of arrests in election matters in the state. Crime Guard spoke with the police helmsman in the state and he opened up on how the feat was achieved.
How did you do it?
Just simple. Planning, planning and planning. We were able to put in place a comprehensive plan for the election. We really planned ahead of the election. And in planning, it involved a whole lot of areas; that is my personnel side, the logistic side and everything. We organised trainings for the officers, articulating their roles before the election, during the election and after the election.
This we did in partnership with some NGOs and that which we organised for ourselves. Then, in order to actually get this thing rolling, logistically, I went out of my way to ensure we had very solid deployment. Let me give you an idea of what we put in place to ensure we had a very successful election. I put in place 500 patrol vehicles; 100 buses, 100 motorcycles, seven trucks, three black Maria for the bad boys , one luxury bus, 12 Armoured Personnel Carriers spread round all our Area Commands.
So, each Area Command had one standby APC to ensure we were able to sort out any problem that might crop up, which never did , snyway. We had five gun boats and 10 speed boats deployed to secure the water ways. The gun boats were spread around areas such as Badagry, Epe, Ikorudu, Takwa- Bay and the like. Then we have two helicopters to complement it.
One thing I tried to do was to ensure that my men were able to be deplored and at the same time, have the capacity to respond to any security challenges that might crop up during the election. On the eve of the election, I ensured that all my men were deplored. I had no problem because we had more than enough vehicles. And aside that, we made provision for fuel. So, we were able to maintain the gun boats and speed boats.
We had almost two trucks s of PMS and one truck of AGO. We went out of our ways to get things done. In addition, in the area of welfare, I can confirm to you that every personnel in the command including all other police formations in Lagos state, were all paid their allowances two days before the election. They were paid in full as directed by the Inspector-General of Police.
SYNERGY WITH OTHER SECURITY AGENCIES
I really understand the role of the police in security architecture, most especially the internal security architecture. Apparently, the fact is that the police are supposed to play the leading role in any security challenges that we have . Its only when we have problem that we can call the military to give us back up. But, what I did was to have an inter- personal relationship with almost all the security chiefs; the Army, the Navy, the Airforce, even Civil Defence, Road Safety, Federal Fire Service, Immigration , Customs.
Everybody was on board with me and whenever we attended meetings, they understood that it fell on the police to spear head whatever we were going to discuss. So, I was able to show that leadership and through that exemplary leadership, they were able to trust me as a person and trust the Nigeria Police. All the security agencies deployed their men. But one thing was clear, you never found them within 30 metres of any polling boot .
FORTH- COMING ELECTIONS
Let me seize this opportunity to assure Lagosians that they are in for a very good deal during the final election that is coming up on April 11, that we are going to be there for them. They should go out and cast their votes. They should enjoy themselves. We are going to ensure that their votes count and also ensure that the sanctity of that ballot is upheld. We will not allow anybody to hijack or do anything that is against the electoral act.
We have all the offences attributed under the electoral act. We are going to ensure that all those things are met. In addition to that, like what I did in last Saturday’s elections, I was at INEC headquarters, which is very very unusual. I was there on election day. I was there the second day until the final results were collated. I did not leave that place and I ensured that whatever security problem the Resident Electoral Commissioner had, I was addressing it.
If I was not there, there would have been a lot of problems. My presence helped a lot. So, I am going to repeat the same thing . Until the winner of the governorship election emerges, until all electoral officers turn in their results, I will be at REC after voting to ensure they are timely and we have a successful election.
PROBLEM AT THE CREEKS
I have a magic and you want to know my magic? I am just an optimist. Failure is never in my lexicon. I was telling people that they were going to see wonders during last week’s election in Lagos. And in Lagos, nothing happened. When I say nothing , I mean nothing because I was everywhere.
I was in Badagry, Epe, Ikorodu, Takwa- Bay, there were no skirmishes. People of this state love peace and I assure you come Saturday, April 11, people will go out, they will do their accreditation , cast their votes and just relax. You know what baffled one in the Presidential election, after casting their votes, people were just sitting in relaxed moods. Even those flashpoints that people thought crisis would happen nothing happened.
POST- ELECTION TENSION
You know, it is natural because the stake was so high. So, don’t blame them. Its like one being tensed to hear the outcome of his result after writing an exam. Even our children after writing an examination they worked so hard are philologically affected while waiting for the result.
We understood the psychology. So, we were not even disturbed at all because we knew that nobody would tamper with the votes while we were in charge. We had that confidence that nobody will be able to manipulate the outcome of the vote. We are not going to allow it. That was the instruction of the Inspector-General of Police that we should do everything to be apolitical and non-partisan.
POLICE COMMUNICATION LINES
Yes, people called in. You know one thing with our training, any single information or hint that we get, we will work on it. When you call me that there is problem in a particular part of the state, we are not going to discountenance it. We go there to verify . But 90% were found to be false. I advise Lagosians to make use of the hot lines. They are still active.
I encourage Lagosians to report incidents requiring our attention through the following dedicated lines domiciled at the Operations room; 08079279349, 08127155071, 08053299264. complaints can also be forwarded to the following; firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. Our twitter handle @policeNGlagos and on faceboo.com/PolicePRO Lagos.
About nine arrests were made. You know in Lagos, it was just marvellous that the fraction was just too minimal. This is a surprise because I was physically on ground. We had an incident around Ojuelegba. I was there assuring the electoral officials , the Youth corps members as well as the electorate of their security.
ASSISTANCE FROM GOVERNMENT
The government tried a great deal without which this feat would not be achieved. My appreciation goes to the IGP for making welfare available for all officers and men of this command. And this helped us,. He provided fuel for us and other logistics.
ADVISE TO LAGOSIANS
First, I need to thank Lagosians for actually conducting themselves in a most peaceful manner. For their their maturity and patience. Without that, there would have been problems. Notwithstanding the malfunctioning of the card readers, everybody waited patiently until solution was provided. Instead of taking the laws into their hands, they were very law abiding.
So, I urge them to please maintain same composure come April 11, 2015. To my men and officers, they should know that their welfare is number one. What they have started, lets us compete it together so that Lagos State Command will be number one command in this federation because they have done extremely well and comported themselves in a most professional manner.
…AND TO CRIMINALS
You know, our motto in this command is that you can not come here to commit crime and go away. We will get you . We advise them to move out of criminality and imbibe decent living. That we are not going to tolerate any act of criminality, we are going to be very hard on them.