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Let’s wait till 2023 to know if I will aid any politician to win election in Oyo State — CP Enwonwu

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•Reveals people conceal cases of rape, defilement because of stigmatization
•Police brutality a thing of the past in Oyo•Rolls out agenda to secure Oyo, nab criminals

Over the years, there have been reported cases of politicians engaging military men including the police to win elections. In this interview with Adeola Badru, the new Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, CP Nwachukwu Enwonwu, spoke on several issues regarding effective policing and his readiness for 2023 elections in the state.

Excerpts:

How has it been since you arrived here?

I resumed on the 1st of June. 2020. I was posted here by the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu (Mpm, Mni) to come and ensure that I stem the crime wave in Oyo State Police Command.

And with that toll order, I have been able to do my level best by restructuring what I met on ground which was first and foremost. I warned my officers and men that fundamental human rights of all, both Nigerians and non-Nigerians must be respected. In order words, I will not be party or listen to issue of police brutality or incivility to members of the public.

That was what I told them in my maiden address. Secondly, I emphasised that I will give quality service delivery to the public and taxpayers that we are expected to serve. These were the two areas we have concentrated on and then our key role which is to fight crime itself, we brought newer strategies of intelligence led policies, visibility policy, that is the emphasis.

And in addition to that, we emphasised patrols, that is part of the visibility policy. And with the intelligence led policy, we are now partnering with the communities and people of the areas with a view to get information, like my emphasis is on human rights and respect. It would make the public to have confidence in the police, and to open room for them to partner with us and with that, there will not be any space or hiding place for criminals.

That will help us get at them. But those who are law abiding don’t have issues with us. But those who are on the other side of the law, who are law breakers and people involved in illegalities, when we apprehend them, we follow the rule of law and due process. They have to be investigated. If they are found wanting, they will be charged to court. That is just the message. And it has worked well for us so far in the last one month. The public has been cooperating with us and we have been achieving results

Insecurity has been on the increase in recent times. What is responsible for the upsurge?

It has not been on the increase. That’s why I told you that…..

Cuts in… Taking a look at recent killings at the Akinyele axis of the state.

Akinyele people are now sleeping with their two eyes closed.Because immediately we came in, those things happened in the first few weeks. We have to restructure the whole arrangement. I did that by first and foremost, removing the divisional police officer in that area, because of language factor.

He happens to come from part of the country that does not speak Yoruba. So, it became a problem for him. That area is predominantly Yorubas and many of them cannot speak English. So, it became a problem. They could not communicate with him.

So, we have to look for somebody who is conversant with the area, speaks the language and he is from the area to replace him. He was a very effective police officer, but those few things that happened, made us pull him out and put him where we think he can function effectively.

The people involved in those killings are already in our net and they have confessed. One of then happens to be a serial killer. The story has become a thing of the past. We don’t hear such things again in Akinyele, because we did a very serious operation in that area with the cooperation of the locals, we were able to fish out those bad elements in the place.

What are you doing on reported cases of child abuse and rape since you assumed duty in the state?

We are also working assiduously on that and we have recorded success. On some of the cases of defilement and rapes, we already have the suspects caught red handed. And they confessed to committing the crime.

But what had actually being the problem in the past is that, a lot of such cases were swept under the carpet. They were being compromised by the family concerned maybe because of social stigma. That was why they wanted to settle such problems without police getting involved. But we are approaching it differently now. We cannot settle it alone. If you want to settle it, you go to court and tell the court that you want to close case of rape, you want to close case of defilement. It is not for police to cover heinous crimes. Our own is to follow the due process legally and charge the case to court. It’s left to the court to know the next thing to do with them.

On effective policing, does your command have enough personnel to adequately police the this state?

We cannot say we have enough personnel in the entire country. There is actually the challenge of manpower shortage in all the commands. But that as it may, we are just doing our best with whatever human resources we have available. There is no state command you go to that they will not complain of manpower shortage including the striking forces, everybody needs manpower, because of the growing population.

If you look at the population, the population is growing geometrically and the manpower needs of the police are growing and it’s not the fault of the police. It’s whatever the government is able to enlist, whatever number they can enlist and appoint and train. That is what to work with. And this is what we classify as manpower wastage. This includes, those who retire, those who were killed while in action, those who died while in service, maybe as a result of ill-health and so on and so forth. We classify them as manpower wastage.

But when you compare that with the number that we enlist, you can see that the two are not really corresponding. And in policing, the demand for security is very high. It’s not only in the township that police are needed, police are in all over 774 local governments. They cover rural areas. So, if you are to say all the police we have are to be in the township, then who polices the rural and the local areas? That is why we have divisions, stations, police posts all over the country. And whatever strength we have, these are the people we still distribute across the states and it’s not only in Oyo, it happens all over the 36 states of the federation and the FCT. So that’s the problem we have in the area of manpower.

The government has been doing a lot. If the financial resources is something to go by, I believe the government thinks of the people. If they have enough resources to engage or enlist and appoint able bodied men, who are sound physically and intellectually and meet the minimum standard, they will surely engage more hands to come and replace those ones who are easing out and those who were lost in fighting hoodlums.

There have been several alleged cases of Police harassing civilians and violating their fundamental rights. What’s your take on this?

Like I told you, by the time I resumed, that was one of my cardinal points. Respect for human rights, that I don’t want to hear any complaints from members of the public concerning police brutality and violation of anybody’s human rights.

I made it clear to the heads of departments, area commanders and divisional police officers to be very professional in dealing with the public and that if there is any confirmed complaints from any member of the public, such persons concerned will be severely sanctioned, irrespective of his rank.

Then, if by anyway the supervising senior officer has not done much to manage the situation that resulted in such rascal and irresponsible behaviour of his subordinates, he will be sanctioned too by way of query for lack of supervision. And in an extreme case, it can cause the removal of that divisional police officer.

So, I’m sure they have cascaded the message, by way of lectures to their officers and men because, after receiving those lectures from me, they were expected to go back and repeat it and cascade it down to their personnel and send back signal to us.

And we don’t just end up keeping those details, we forward them to Abuja, to the force headquarters to show that we are complying with the orders and directives they give us from the force headquarters. So, issue of incivility to members of the public or brutality to people has become a thing of the past in Oyo State. You can still go and find out.

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How is your command collaborating with stakeholders in the community policing at Akinyele?

We are collaborating with all the stakeholders like the vigilantes and hunters. We have reached out to them in the concept of community policing. We have even reached out to the Baales and the traditional institution in those places and we are partnering with them. We know that without them, we cannot succeed. Since we don’t have enough manpower to cover all those farm settlements and the rural areas in that place, they have been working with us, they have been helping us to manage the situation in those areas to the extent that of there is any criminal who comes to cause some disharmony in the neighborhood, it’s them who do the arrest and bring them to the nearest  police station.

And we also try as much as we can to extend our patrols in those areas, partner and relate very well with those communities. We also try as much as we can too, to sensitise them concerning some of those herdsmen whose motives are already known.

There have been several allegations that politicians use military men including the police to win election. In respect of this, what will you do to ensure that does not occur in Oyo State?

Thank you very much for that question. Thanks you said they are allegations. It has not been confirmed. And as we speak, the last election in Oyo has come and gone and that was in 2019.

At present, there is no election in Oyo State. So, I won’t be specific to tell you that, this is what will be my reaction when the election comes. So, let’s wait till 2023 or before then, if there is any re-run or staggered election, that will take place in Oyo State.

That is where and when you will know whether I will allow my personnel to be used by any politician. I don’t think it will happen under my watch. We are not politicians. We are expected to be neutral. We will give the people, taxpayers whose money that is used in giving us our uniforms and paying our salaries, we will give them quality policing, quality service delivery.

We cannot partake to compromise integrity of elections. We can’t, under my watch. I am in a state where elections will soon be coming. For now, we are focusing our attention on how to cut crime to the barest minimum. So, both the locals, Nigerians and non-Nigerians in Oyo State will have a conducive atmosphere to do their businesses. When the environment is conducive, investors will feel comfortable coming here to do their businesses, that will give opportunity for the economy to grow and that’s our target.

Your take on where such cases were reported of security personnel compromising their integrity.

That is an allegation. I have not been able to be in a situation where it has been proven. That is why I said everybody has different approach to situation prevalent. Until it comes in 2023, if I am still sitting here and an election comes up, you will now watch what my reaction will be.  But under my watch, I can never be in a place and compromise the integrity of elections. It’s not possible.

Vanguard

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