I will not condone any criminality — AIG Zone 2


The Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2 Abdulmajid Ali in this interview with the   NewsDirect team led by the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Dr SAMUEL IBIYEMI and Head Special Reports Unit  SOLA OLOPADE and Reporter OMOLOLA  DEDE speaks on the level of preparedness by the Police  against criminal activities such as terrorism, robbery and kidnapping. The AIG who commended the collaboration of other security agencies with the Police in getting rid of militants terrorizing residents of coastal communities of Lagos and Ogun states assured investors that the Police would always bring out criminals anywhere they might hide once there is adequate information support by the general public. Excerpts.

Congratulations on your promotion. As a senior police officer what can you say on the state of criminal activities in Nigeria, particularly in Lagos and Ogun?

Thank you very much, I can’t appraise the country as a whole but I can only talk about Zone 2 which happens to be Lagos and Ogun states. So far so good, Police are on top of the situation in the two states and we are living up to expectation by putting things in place. We are doing our best we can.

Recently, there were series of attacks by militants and kidnapping activities, it looked like the whole place was in a state of disorderliness, but suddenly  there was calmness in the atmosphere. Can we call it an overwhelming peace?

This was based on the collaborative efforts we have been having within the two states, as well as relationship between the sister security agencies that have been cooperating with the Police.  We have been working in synergy with them and we have been partnering in the area of information sharing, operational, tactical response and raid actions which have been on joint effort. So, what happened recently is a testimony to the various collaborative agencies’ cooperation and we intend to continue to collaborate with them.

As the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) in charge of Zone 2 which is a very strategic Zone in Nigeria, what is the agenda for the commands within the Zone?

The agenda is not so simple. We know Lagos as a cosmopolitan area and Ogun State has been coming up strongly. We are all aware of the commercial and social activities going on in the two states, the two governors are aware of this and they have strong desire to secure their states. The Ogun state Governor, Ibikunle Amosun has been going from pillar to post to make sure the state meet up with its development goals. Also, the Lagos state Governor Mr Akinwumi Ambode has been trying to overcome the challenges of social, as well as infrastructure development. At present, we are seeing the streets being lit and the ongoing road construction projects in some areas. The challenges are much considering the rate at which people are trouping to the city. The Police are not relenting in their effort in the area of securing the states and our primary responsibility of protecting lives and properties which we swore an oath to carry out. We want to make sure we improve on service delivery and  assuring the people of the states that Police will continue to do what we know best to do, to protect the citizens, carry out visibility policing on the major roads and  high-ways, continue effective monitoring of these criminal activities and attacking them when necessary. That’s what we will continue to do. I just want to promise people in the two states that during my time as AIG Zone 2, I will ensure people sleep with their two eyes closed and improve the lives of citizens, provided they are law abiding. It’s only those who are criminals that would find it so hot with me because, I will not condone any criminality, as well as rise in kidnapping and robbery activities. My boys will deal decisively with any individual or group of persons that may want to take the law into their hands. Any group that wants to disrupt peace being enjoyed by Nigerians will not find a place to hide. We will be proactive to security alerts at any time.

Of recent, we saw the level of sophisticated equip-ment and technology deployed by armed robbers and kidnappers, what are Police doing to acquire more technology to fight crime?

We have acquired the right technology and we are fully on top of it. Police have used a lot of that in arresting many kidnappers, now we have picked up so many robbers with this newly acquired technology. Just of recent, the Ogun State  Intervention Squad of the   Police recovered more than 26 vehicles stolen from different parts of this country. We have made a lot of arrests in Lagos and Ogun states. As I said, anywhere we hear of kidnapping case, we pursue it to a logical conclusion. Today’s good news was that Lagos State anti-kidnapping team got someone arrested. The other day, someone was asking me of one ‘Baddo’ one notorious guy in Ikorodu, saying the police cannot arrest him and I assure him that, he would be picked-up before the next meeting and truly before that time, he was picked up by the Lagos State team. The Police are doing very well because the boys are being geared up. When we have good officers at the helmss, the boys must definitely swing into action. The Lagos State kidnapping team is doing very well. The same with the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) team.  Once they get the needed support, they will do their job and we are doing best to make sure our boys do everything within the rule of law with the full knowledge of the fundamental human rights of individuals.

What type of cooperation are you getting from Nigerians, especially if you look at some private companies, it’s even the CEOs that are giving out classified information to their drivers and security guards. What kind of support are you expecting to reduce the problems faced by the Police as a result of this?

We need more support from the people to achieve the desired goal and have a breakthrough in any case we are investigating. I do tell people that Police are not native doctors that will look through the crystal ball and tell you what will happen next. We were not trained like that because we believe in gathering information. We only gather such information from people and no matter how insignificant it could be, we still manoeuvre our ways to get breakthroughs and achieve our goal at the end of the day. The Police of today are not like that of yesterday, we are very open to the public now. We attend events, parties and mix with the people. We organize seminars so that people can see police in their full strength now. Hence, when we you call to book appointment to see me, it appears funny to me  because my office is open to visitors anytime  I am around. We are equally building up that culture at the various police stations now, that DPOs should make themselves accessible to the subordinates and the people. It’s not all about claiming to be the DCO, DCO,Area Commander, Commissioner of Police  or AIG. No! Senior Police officers must come down to the level of the general public. If people don’t have access to law enforcement agents, then what’s the essence of being here. We want them to come around, pass information to us and we are ready to make such information confidential enough, without exposing it to others. So, the motivational cooperation we are expecting is in the area of support from the public. The federal and state governments cannot do it alone, corporate individuals and organizations’ assistance is needed like the provision of patrol vehicles and gadgets for monitoring assurance to ensure our work go on smoothly without any hindrance.

In the past the issue of prosecution had always been a challenge, how are the   Police currently dealing with the case of Ayokunnu allegedly caught with human parts at his filling station in Sango Ota early this year?

You see the last time I went to Abuja, I was so happy, I never knew my former IGP, Solomon Arase built a befitting office for our lawyers, we have more lawyers in the police today at the state level, zonal level and the federal level. It was a befitting office he built for them and here in our zone, we have a very effective legal section and our lawyers are very articulate in anything they are doing. The era of fighting to take over prosecution from the police is gone. Yes, they may decide to leave investigation for the police alone, that won’t be a problem, so that we can investigate, while they prosecute. But we also have qualified lawyers that can prosecute as well. Our lawyers are not different from others after all, they both graduated from the same Law school. Our boys can have suspects prosecuted and achieve the same desired result. I think our problem in this regard borders on frequent transfers of prosecuting officers, because we are not specialists, we are general duty officers and  have to put the knowledge of all sections together. Today you are in the crime investigating department, tomorrow you may be transferred to the Traffic Department. So, those are the challenges we face. But we are meeting up with the challenges.

What’s the latest update on the case of the ritualist by the name Ayokunnu who was arrested at his filling station with human’s head?

The matter has been charged to court.

What is the Nigeria Police doing to boost the welfare of its officers?

We have been trying our best on this aspect by ensuring the salary of the boys are being paid when due. There is an housing scheme put in place for officers from the rank of inspector and above, so that after retirement they can have a place to call their home. Also, there is transport scheme put in place for those who want to get loan to enable them get a ride and in many other areas and when they go for special duties like the elections get special allowances that are paid directly into their individual accounts. The only thing they are talking about is increase in salary, especially due to the present state of the economy. That’s what Police are agitating for but with the current recession we are in, as a result of the oil production dropping from 2.4 million barrels per day to around 1.4 million barrels, even with sharp drop in global prices coupled with the Avengers’ activities, the government’s hands are tight for any salary increase at the moment. The vandalism of oil facilities by the Avengers is a serious problem for the country. The government cannot consider salary increase now with revenue challenges. It’s a huge problem for the country, perhaps with time things will get better.

How do you treat criminals identified in the Police?

We don’t spare them, we deal with them right away, once a policeman or officer is caught committing an offence, we dealt with him quickly. Offending police officers are usually dismissed and prosecuted immediately. Whenever we hear of any allegation against our personnel, we investigate and expose such erring officer. That’s the only way we can deal with corruption and unethical behaviours among our men.

The police announced carrying out psychiatric test for policemen.  When would it take off?

We are liaising with our chief medical officer in Abuja and we would start that when we are ready, to test and address mental disorders that could lead to personnel carrying out accidental discharge and all forms of unethical behaviours. It is not going to be all of them for instance we may start with the drivers and those in the direct line of operations to ascertain that they are of sound mind. This is because some of them could be overwhelmed by various family related issues. That’s the reason some of them answer questions aggressively when you meet them on the road, but we want police to be more polite and not to behave in an aggressive manner whereby their faces would be unwelcoming and frightening. It is not the aggressive way of Wetin you want. Although most people don’t know much about the Police and often refer to everybody as Officer Commanding (OC). Nigerians should come close to us to know more more about the Police. I must say people don’t want to share intimate relationship with policemen, but we are human beings and we should have things in common. We are trying to do that to checkmate police activities to ensure the 21st century personnel and officers that are receptive and listen to people. This will make  Nigerians to relate with policemen with high sense of dignity and respect.

On the ongoing police recruitment process, what are you doing to make sure you separate the bad eggs from the good ones especially from the first point of call before they infiltrate the force with  illicit acts?

The process is still on, although it is being conducted by the Police Service Commission, although the police will still have a role to play after the candidates have been selected and we would screen them again to ensure all the good ones find their ways in. Police Force is not meant for bad guys or let’s say because this one is a tough guy in the community and the next decision is for him to join the force or people parading themselves as robbers, cultists and the likes. Even after they might have been selected, we would still screen them based on reason why some of them might not be good policemen. We expect the community to present the constables to us and let us know those who are good for the force in the various Nigerian communities. We believe they should know them better, but unfortunately it is still these same community leaders that would sign the testimony of good behaviour for some of the known bad boys in their communities.

 Has there been any alert so far on terrorism, and what are you doing within your zone to create awareness against terrorists’ actions?

We have received alert on insurgents trying to infiltrate into our society here and their plans to attack soft targets like the public market places and motor parks, but we want Nigerians to always be on the alert and be aware of activities around them. We are not always on the alert in this country, we don’t just care. A man was found in a vehicle sitting down in a particular area for hours looking suspicious, nobody cares to question him on his reasons for being there. Let’s say a vehicle passes the front of your house for a record number of times in a continuous ‘to and fro movement,’ you should be able to challenge him to know his reasons. People should know their neighbours, but we don’t do that. It could even be that your next neighbour is one of these Boko Haram guys making bombs in his room and you always notice people going in and coming out.  Yet you don’t care to know what’s going on there just because of the level of insensitivity to activities around you. We are always self-centered but when the unfortunate incident occurs we all bear the brunt. I remember when we were growing up, at the shout of ‘thief’ everybody within the neighborhood comes out with cutlass and  everything they could muster and go after him.  But now when people hear ‘thief’ that’s when they quickly do everything to lock their doors thinking they are safe. We should go back to the basics by being our brother’s keeper.

What is the Police Force doing to protect informants who are ready to provide credible intelligence because most times people are scared of their lives being threatened by this?

At times people go around telling people in the community after providing helpful information to the police and the danger in that is that the civilians you are telling would still be the ones to expose you thereby putting your life in danger. We always advise people to meet high ranking officers like the DPOs or the DCOs to pass their information. People can even intimate police via text messages without necessarily reporting to the station in person. Gone are those days when police do disclose the source of their information except you leak it by yourself and Nigerians don’t have secret. We treat our information as private and confidential. So, we don’t expose people.

We should all come together and salvage this country and the Police will continue to do their best. Everybody has been challenged to curb this menace of kidnapping, robbery and all forms of illicit acts and we want the Nigerian public to know that we would do everything within our capacity to reduce to the bearest minimum, all kinds of criminalities within the society.

What is the Way forward?

The way forward  is for us to come together and salvage this country by overcoming the security  challenges including kidnapping. President Muahmmadu Buhari has initiated various steps which require the support of all Nigerians for the security issues to become a thing of the past. The key thing is for all of us to be our brother’s keeper by exposing criminals in our various communities.