In this interview with BANKOLE TAIWO, Ogun state Commandant for Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Commandant Everestus Chimezie Obiyo speaks on concerted effort being made to run aground criminal elements in the state calling for the support of all to tackle challenges of insecurity in the country.
When did you join NSCDC?
I joined Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in 2005. I was formerly with Nigeria Prison Service but transferred my service to NSCDC and I have not regretted my action. I saw NSCDC as another call to strengthen the security architecture of our country.
How has the journey been from 2005 till date?
The journey has been with its ups and downs as very typical of human journey. Life itself is not all rosy and for someone occupying this kind of position, it cannot all be rosy, however, a real man is known by how he handles the challenges that come his way. The challenges are no doubt quite enormous but by and large, the Almighty God has continued to give us victory. Much have been achieved since I assumed duty as the Commandant for the NSCDC, Ogun State last year September. Prior to my coming, cases of pipeline vandals were very common but it has been reduced to barest minimum if it ever existed again. The credit goes to God and my diligent officers who have been working in tandem with my zero tolerance vision for the vandalism in the state. We have secured no fewer than 17 convictions since I resumed duty.
What is the mandate of NSCDC?
We fight vandals across the country. We are into protection of government infrastructure to ensure that they are not vandalised. We deployed our men in all the places where we have government buildings for security surveillance. We also regulate and monitor activities of private security guards to ensure they operate according to standard and not undermine the security of the country because we do have expatriates among them. Disaster management is another area we come in to detect and demarcate area that are injurious to the people, do rescue job and ensure general safety of the people. We are also into protection of civilians through crowd control and protection of Very Important Personalities. This is an integral part of our mandate. With reference to our other civil acts, we have Peace and Conflict Resolution Unit as well as Anti Corruption and Transparency Unit. Our Peace and Conflict Resolution Unit is our Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) centre. When people have issues with themselves and do not wish to go to court, they come to this unit for mediation and we give them best service. In fact, half of people who come hare daily are guests of this unit because people don’t like going to court anymore. We usually bring the complainants and the defendants together and at the end of it all people leave here being happy. The Anti Corruption and Transparency unit also intervenes in areas like when people owe themselves and it is like the debtor does not want to pay. We bring the creditors and debtors together and we help to work out modality for such money to be paid.
In the face of the daunting security challenge facing us as a nation, is it safe to say men of NSCDC are underutilized?
That is not correct, it is an erroneous belief. We are not underutilized. We have capable men and enough of them are being put to good and effective use in line with our core mandate. It is wrong to say that because they do see some of our officers on ground that we are underutilized. The truth is that while many of our officers have been deployed in the field, some are left behind as back up and could be called upon at anytime. You can’t leave your place empty. We have very capable men and we don’t waste the opportunity to maximise their efficiency.
Your men carry guns but we hardly hear that NSCDC officers shoot suspects or engage in accidental discharge, what is the secret?
Well we have not been trained to kill Nigerians but to secure lives and properties. Merely carrying guns deters criminals but if the hardened ones want to go for a kill, we can demobilise such and then get the person arrested. We always go by our rules of engagement because for every bullet expended, you must account for it.
How will you describe your relationship with other security agencies?
Excellent, we have robust relationship with other security agencies. We see ourselves as one working ultimately to secure Nigerians. We meet regularly to see where we could be partners and continually make the state very unsafe for criminal elements.
What is the crime rate like in Ogun State?
Ogun is very peaceful and this is because the security agencies are working together as one. I have also been to the new governor to discuss with him that we must not relax, we must continue to improve on what we have on ground so that the state will remain peaceful.
What is NSCDC doing to curb the menace of herdsmen who seem to be holding the Southwest states by the jugular now?
This is a general security challenge across the country and I strongly think that all hands must be on deck to curb this problem. It is not an issue to be left alone for the security agencies. We must all come together to fight it off. People must volunteer useful information. On the part of security agencies, we are we have been organising series of meeting and seminars harping on peaceful coexistence among the herdsmen and farmers. We all must allow peace to reign because nothing could be achieved in war situation.
Do you subscribe to Nigerians bearing arms as we have in some other nations of the world?
No, I don’t subscribe to civilians bearing arms because of the dangers attached to it. Many people will abuse this privilege and leave what they are supposed to do. I will rather suggest that government should equip security agencies. When situation is like this, government should not look at one agency and think that because it is older it can do the job. There are younger security agencies like NSCDC that can also effectively discharge their duties efficiently. If you equip NSCDC you will be shock at the results. We are not competing with anybody, we are not saying if you give 200 cars to one security agency, you should do same for us but you can at least give us 100 vehicles and not just one or nothing sometimes. You know that Civil Defence is one security agency that has been tested and trusted, so why are you not funding it properly so that it can do the job very well? It is not good when you continue to fund a security agency every time but you will neglect the one that is ready and willing to sacrifice its life.
What are the challenges?
Funding is one major challenge. They should give us operation vehicles so that we can do more for Nigerians.
What is your charge for your officers?
They should remain focused and diligent, they should not be distracted. They should continue to be dedicated and selfless in discharging their duties. We equally call for more support from government, the people and traditional rulers. When you ask for their support, their minds usually go to a particular place, they should come and help us too. They should support us with operational vehicles and many other things that could help us to do the job.