By Onome Amawhe
At a time the nation is yet to solve the most celebrated case of abducted school girls in Chibok, one of the nation’s top cops tried to change the narrative with numerous tales of daring raids into the murky world of organised kidnap. One of the most remarkable was his leading the team that rescued kidnapped children of Turkish International School in Kano and the eventual arrest of the kidnappers in 2018.
As Commissioner of Police in Kano State, he made the combat of kidnapping and smashing of notorious armed robbery gangs his calling. For those that had not read the script, the three young men who on July 10, 2019 abducted and killed a five year-old boy, Ahmad Ado, have the rest of their lives to brood over their ill-advised venture into Ahmed Iliyasu’s territory.
The young Ado, of Karkasara Quarters, Kano had been kidnapped by unknown persons at Ma’ahat Nursery and Primary School, Karkasara and after abducting the boy, the kidnappers contacted his family and demanded N50 million as ransom. Deploying a team of Operation Puff Adder detectives from the state’s anti-kidnapping squad, Iliyasu swung into action, and succeeded in apprehending the suspects.
That is the profile and pedigree Ahmed Iliyasu, former Commissioner of Police in charge of Kano State Command brought to Lagos when he was recently appointed the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Zone 2 that comprises Lagos and Ogun states.
He is a cop with a strong aversion for crimes profiting from the misery of innocent people. He sees kidnapping as a “despicable conduct that connotes a high level of wickedness, hinged on abysmal loss of moral values.”
Shortly after resuming in Lagos courtesy of a November 8, 2019 disposition, Iliyasu made a major catch to underscore his determination to rid his new territory of kidnappers. He directed the efforts that led to the recovery of the mutilated body of one Ignatius Adunukwe, a billionaire and owner of Firman Generator Company, who was kidnapped on December 1, last year.
Although the initial objective was to rescue the victim, it turned out the abductors had killed Adunukwe on the very day he was abducted. However, Iliyasu got the perpetrators arrested and brought to book.
In June 2019, while still serving as the Police chief in Kano, Iliyasu ordered intensified onslaught against crime and threats to security in the state, an exercise that led to the arrest of 122 suspected criminal.
The suspects were apprehended in raids of criminal hideouts and black spots across the state with Iliyasu utilizing what he described as new operational strategies, including technical intelligence-gathering and community policing in line with the mission of “Operation Puff-Adder’’ intended to rid that state of all forms of criminality. Not surprising, topping the arrested persons were three people suspected to have kidnapped a bride and her two friends.
Altogether, Operation Puff-Adder in Kano led to the arrest of more than 1,700 criminals in 100 days with offences ranging from kidnapping, armed robbery, membership of unlawful Boko Haram, thuggery, popularly known in Kano as ‘’Daba’’, car snatching/ theft, and many more.
In the view of some officers who served with him, Iliyasu’s deployment to Zone 2, generally seen as the most strategic of all the zones, will give the much needed intelligence-based approach to combating crime.
“He is a very methodical officer and advocate of the full application of modern technologies in crime fighting. He believes that technology, if appropriately applied, is very effective in unravelling cases of kidnap. I think the zone, especially Lagos, is in for exciting times in combating kidnap,” a deputy commissioner of Police said.
Another serving senior officer noted that although Lagos has a peculiar crime challenge, especially the serial attacks of motorists stuck in traffic, Iliyasu is capable of evolving strategies to suit the special needs of Lagos.
Said the officer who had served under Iliyasu: “Lagos comes with its own challenges, but having had a successful tour of duty in Kano State that, for me, ranks higher than Lagos in prevalence of crime, he is adequately prepared for the task.”
He has investigated and successfully prosecuted cases of sensitive political, as well as state and economic nature at FCIID Abuja between 2012 and 2014. He established a strong and vibrant Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) at the Area Command level which earned him commendations.
On the international scene, Iliyasu served as Chief Investigation Officer at the United Nations Verification Mission III Headquarters at Luanda, Angola during which he investigated a serious case that led to the arrest of a syndicate that specialised in stealing and robbing UN vehicles. Many of such vehicles as well as arms, including AK47 rifles and ammunitions, were recovered. This earned him a letter of commendation from UN Police Commissioner 1995-1996.
Iliyasu was enlisted into the Nigeria Police Academy Annex, Kaduna as Cadet ASP in August, 1988. He started his career in his home state of Kaduna as Officer in Charge of Basic Studies at Police College. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in History, Diploma in Law and Master Degree in Business Administration, all from Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto.
Iliyasu is a serial award winner due to his hard work and dedication to duty. Some of his awards include Award of Excellence from the Crescent University, Abeokuta on Community Policing Initiatives in 2017; Security Watch Africa Award as most innovative Commissioner of Police in West Africa, received in Gambia, 2018 and the Most Media Friendly Award by Radio Nigeria Paramount FM Abeokuta, 2017, among others.
Onome Amawhe is a media consultant and publisher of Africa Executive. www.africa-executive.com