Mr. Bashir Makama is the new Benue state Commissioner of Police. In this interview with our Crime Editor, Emma Nnadozie and Peter Duru, he spoke about the strategies he adopted upon assumption of office to drive down the rate of crimes and communal clashes in the state.
Posting to Benue State
I felt it was a normal posting. I also felt that it was going to be challenging. So, I had to be ready and prepared for it. I just prepared myself and moved in. As soon as I moved in, we profiled the situation. We met various challenges, ranging from armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism, clashes between communities and all other crimes that are prevalent in the society and after profiling that, we ensured that the most urgent ones were attended to which included; kidnapping and cultism and such other criminal acts that prevail in the state.
How are you tackling them?
We are tackling the problems headlong both reactionary and proactively. While we attend to the ones that happen immediately, we also proffer lasting prevention to those ones that are yet to happen. That’s how we are going about it and it is yielding positive results.
On the vexed issue of attacks by Fulani herdsmen in the state
The situation we met on ground was that of an uneasy calm. The clashes are less now which has to do with the strategy we adopted and tremendous efforts we have been making to ensure that peace reigns in the state. Besides, the rainy season has also made it possible by providing enough pasture and grazing space for cattle. We have also resorted to dialogue. As I talk to you, we called various leaders of different communities including the Fulanis, the farmers, community leaders and talked to them. We are talking and we will continue to talk to them to ensure that the menace is nipped in the bud permanently.
On the rampant cases of kidnapping
I can assure you that in the last three weeks, we’ve not heard of any incidents or reports of kidnapping in the state. That does not mean that we are resting on our oars. We are doing our best to continue to checkmate it. For instance, where we discover that the profile of kidnap is high, we take another step. Where we identified that the vehicles that are popularly used for kidnap, such as vehicles with deep booth which can manoeuvre on unfriendly terrain, the Toyota Corolla car popularly called ‘dog yash’, of course, we commenced and mounted operations to have some sort of data base on them so that if any is used for that purpose, it could easily be detected. Since we did that, it has helped us to record tremendous results. Though, recently, we recorded one case where another type of vehicle was used. We know what to do. We have arrested some of the masterminds, some with their arms, some while in the process or on the verge of carrying out the act and some after having kidnapped a victim. We took the fight to their den to rescue victims. Just like I said, our actions have been reactive and proactive.
Synergy with sister security agencies
Certainly, we work in synergy. As I talk to you, we have a joint Task force comprising the various agencies and we go out working together, approaching the operations together. We have a joint operations room here at the Police Headquarters where we meet to discuss strategy and modalities before we go out to put them into practice.
Response of the PCRC in the state
We have been enjoying that support from them. It is pertinent to note that the Inspector- General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris, has introduced a step further to what we call the ICPC, with what he called the Eminent Persons Forum, EPF, which cuts across the whole society and community. They will come and discuss together with the leadership of the command. We all know that security is no longer the know it all of the Police but everyone’s business. We engage the different facets of the community and ensure that we solicit for such credible information and also partnership, collaboration and information on need to know basis. We are doing well and we are thriving to do better.
State government efforts
I must sincerely appreciate the state, particularly the State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, for his pragmatic approach to issues of security in the state. He has taken it , very seriously. We have all sorts of cooperation and encouragements coming from him so that we will meet the dire security needs of the people of Benue state. There is no gainsaying that the state government has been of tremendous help to us and I thank him for that.
Coping with perceived excesses of politicians in the state
I don’t see any excesses because we always cope with whatever excesses that come. We are not politicians, so we cannot act like politicians we only live together with politicians. That is what we are doing.
Encouraging policemen to achieve the best and checking their excesses
We have a lot of means of checking excesses in the force. There are procedures for punishing any act of indiscipline and conduct, hence any unpopular behaviour are treated as such. As I speak with you, some of them are standing trial for whatever part or roles they may have played in whatever aspect of indiscipline or behaviour they might have put up.
And in encouraging them, we have adopted the stick and carrot approach. If you do well, we give you the carrot but if you do badly , we give you the stick. It is paying off. Those of them who do well, we commend. If it requires the commissioner’s hand shake, we do it. If it’s such that entails issuing a certificate of commendation, we do not hesitate to do that.
Drop in crime rate
Well, I obviously would not be able to assess myself. I believe that the assessment should come from members of the public which should be a sort of feedback. So, if that is the feedback we are receiving that crime has been brought down, well, what we did is not far from what I told you earlier. Knowing full well that the state is rugged, we had to adopt some rugged approach to achieve successes.
One had to ensure that certain things were put in place to improve on those areas that needed to be improved upon and also invent proactive approaches and you are good to go.““Advise to the people of Benue state in terms of crime fighting “Well, the people of the state should be law abiding. They should live within their means.
They should report any suspicious movement within their neighbourhood and environment at anytime to the Police. They should be security conscious and always follow simple security tips. Lit your surroundings, don’t give lifts to strangers; ensure that nobody is trailing you when driving. Ensure that strangers are not locking around the entrance of the gate of your house. Don’t open your gates to strangers; know the strangers that come in and out of your home.
These are some of the numerous charges we give out daily. I urge the people to apply themselves to these rules and also report suspicious movements to our control room through the telephone numbers which we distributed all over the state. They should make distress calls without delays. We also have websites where you can report our conducts and tell us, if we do well tell others and, if we do badly, inform us so that we can diligently correct it.