His posting to Zone 9 of the Nigeria Police comprising the four Igbo states of Enugu, Anambra, Imo and Abia, as Assistant Inspector-General of Police in-charge, was widely hailed. This is because of his achievements as Commissioner of Police in Anambra before his elevation. As soon as he assumed duties, he embarked on innovations such that the Zone’s headquarters, today, is wearing a new look. He has also started rejigging the security arrangement in the zone and he told that much to our Crime Editor, Emma Nnadozie, in Umuahia, recently. Excerpts:
How would you describe the crime situation in the zone?
Having been in the zone for a long time, as I have been the CP Anambra for one year, 9 months before assuming duty as the AIG in charge of the Zone, I will say the crime situation is still within acceptable range. The people of the Zone , even the hardly enlightened ones, will shout and the whole world will hear about it once crime rate gets out of hand. And you’ll notice VIPs coming into the Zone with a retinue of policemen; some may even go to the extent of getting military men as escorts.
But people go about their lawful businesses with little or no security detail. Equally, violent crimes, which used to be rampant in the South-East, are almost fast becoming a thing of the past. I cannot remember when we witnessed bank robbery or kidnapping in and out. This is the evidence to show that security situation here has improved. I give kudos to the governors, the commissioners of police and the police in the Zone. The IGP has not only decided to maintain the strategies of his predecessors, he has also moved a step forward particularly on the issue of presence of security men on our highways , visible policing , the introduction of Eminent People’s Forum.
How are you tackling the issue of cattle rustling and attacks by herdsmen?
We don’t have cattle rustling but the problem of herdsmen and farmers clash especially in Enugu where it is pronounced. It is a national problem. The Federal Government is doing its part to end the problem.
The state governments are also playing their part, while security agencies are working in conjunction with the state governments. In Anambra, we have a very robust committee comprising of security agencies, traditional rulers, representatives of town unions, representatives of the herdsmen led by the Saraki Fulani himself and some of the Fulani who were born and brought up in Anambra.
That committee is working; that’s why you hardly hear of herdsmen and farmers clashes in the state. That does not mean it doesn’t occur, but whenever it attempts to rear its ugly head, this very committee, which I was privileged to head, now headed by my successor,
moves in quickly and try to nip it in the bud. If it was the herdsmen whose cattle strayed into farmers straw land and destroyed the crop, they will be arrested and assessment would be made of the damage done and they are made to pay compensation. So, if, for any reason, any community kills a cow illegally or otherwise, they are also made to compensate the herdsmen. This brings peace and I advocate same for all other states. I have been writing to other commissioners of police to emulate same because, in Anambra, the committee was formed even when the clashes were not so pronounced, and, today, it has paid off.
What are you doing about the excesses of some of your men in the Zone?
Like I told you, I’m not a stranger in the Zone. Prior to this time, I used to come to the Zone for meetings. While I was commissioner, I had noticed some of the excesses and I was not happy about it. And now that I am in this position, I have taken that as one of my wall note to checkmate. I have had cause to remove some from their duty posts, reassign them. I have had cause to query some of them but, generally, I have sent the warning to all of them. I have made them realize that it is no more business as usual. Anyone caught doing what he is not supposed to do would go in for it and we have made example with many of them and we intend to carry on with that.
Specifically, what cases should be referred to the zonal level?
The problem is Nigerians. And people of the Zone have to be advised. You may go and paint the picture of something that did not happen, maybe you had a small quarrel with your neighbour and you go to the police or the lawyer and the lawyer fine tunes the story and says you came with machine guns to attack him, levelled his house, of course, it is a big crime. But, sometimes when you look at the story, you’ll discover that the man did not even go there with a broomstick. If you watched the television a week ago, I had cause to parade some persons, one of them came to give police fake information. He came to the Zone and told us he knew of a neighbour dealing in arms, hard drugs and fake currencies; and these are serious national issues. Immediately, the Zone moved in and got the young man arrested and searched his place and got a locally -made pistol, some hard drugs, fake N1,000 notes.
We began investigation and discovered that the informant seemed to know more than the suspect that was arrested. And we decided to arrest the informant. Further investigation showed that he was the one that planted all these things in the young man’s house. We went to the wife’s shop and discovered more of the fake currencies. So you can imagine, if you exchanged goods for money with him and he gives you those currencies, you just gave your goods for nothing, or if you worked for him and he has to pay, you have been paid nothing . He has been charged to court. I call on Nigerians to be sincere to their country; leaders should be sincere to their subjects too. Anybody who thinks he can run and paint a fake picture, we’ll definitely come for you.
How are you motivating your men?
The Federal Government is doing its best. At the level of the management, we do our best to improve the situation. As you can see my environment, it is a great improvement from what it used to be. The compound used to be waterlogged. It is to make sure our men are happy working in the environment. We are appealing to our high resource headquarters, we are appealing to our various governors to assist us have mobility that will enhance them. The Zone is more or less like a fatherless child
What is your advice to criminals in the states under your jurisdiction?
First and foremost, I want to thank the law- abiding people of the South-East. This place is highly civilized and the commerce and business activities here are on the high side. I want to thank them for their cooperation with security agencies, especially, those who assist by giving information. Their information has been so wonderful. But for criminals, I want to warn that the long arm of the law, though grinds slowly, will catch up with each and everybody who fails to repent. So my advice to them is that, there are lots of opportunities in this country. Poverty is not an excuse to commit crime. Those who refuse will face the wrath of the law.