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Boko Haram suspects use black power to evade arrest

Boko Haram suspects use black power to evade arrest

The Commissioner of Police in Edo State, Danmallam Mohammed is unarguably a Journalist delight due to his open door policy which has facilitated the commands access to vital information that has led to significant progress in the war against criminals in the state.

He fielded questions from a team from the NIGERIAN OBSERVER led by the Ag. General Manager, Sir. (Barr.) Solomon Imohiosen, the Ag. Editor, Eubaldus Enahoro and Crime Correspondent, Mike Osarogiagbon.

Excerpts:

  Can you tell us how you have been fairing since you came to Edo State Sir?

As you all know, I assumed office as Commissioner of Police in charge of Edo State Command February 15, 2019, that was before the general elections. And from that time till now, we have achieved a lot in terms of fighting crime and criminality in the state.

  As you all know, the contemporary security challenges facing the country is a big concern to all of  us. Issues of kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, proliferation of live cartridges and fire arms, cyber crime, illicit trade in drugs, illegal financial fraud. But there is concerted effort by the Federal Government under the leadership of our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari to curtail the activities of criminals and a lot have been achieved with particular reference to us here in Edo State. We have made a lot of efforts to curtail the activities of cultists, kidnappers and armed robbers and that is the brief summary I can give you, that is from January to May 2019.

  The total number of suspects we arrested through this “operation Puff Adder” as introduced by our new boss, Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu mni, we arrested total number of 349 suspects. And a total number of 160 victims were recorded.

  Then, we have a total number of victims rescued from the hands of both kidnappers, cultists and armed robbers about 40. Then, numbers of casualties, we have 23, then, we have a total number of suspects charged to courts who committed various offences as 260. And we secured 60 convictions.

  We recovered a total number of 40 vehicles from suspects. Then we have recovered a lot of arms and ammunition of different calibre. We recovered a total number of arms within this period under review ie, whether AK 47, locally made pistol, cut-to-size gun and others as 105. Then, ammunition, ranging from live cartridges, bullets, we have 243. So, you can see that the fight against crime is on going especially under this our “operation Puff Adder.”

  Only recently if I told you what we did, that is our achievement last week, you will be surprised from Saturday May 18, 2019 to May 25, 2019, within the period under review, the command recorded the following incidents/achievements, nine confirmed kidnappers were arrested and 13 persons were rescued from kidnappers successfully without paying ransom. Only one person was killed by the kidnappers along Benin-Okada Road (that lecturer).

  We were able to recover three cut-to-size guns from the kidnappers with 10 live cartridges, while two persons were killed accidentally while on hunting expedition. The ones from hunting were from fellow hunters who said he thought the person was a bush meat and that is how he killed him. The case is under investigation, then, two cut-to-size single barrel guns were recovered from those hunters. Then, five child traffickers who specialize in stealing children were arrested and one child was rescued. Then, 10 armed robbers were arrested, two cut-to-size guns and three locally made pistols were recovered with ten live cartridges, then, 14 vehicles were recovered from suspects ie, vehicles they stole from people. And 20 cultists were arrested and three cut-to-size guns and 10 live cartridges were recovered from them, two cultists were killed by rival cult group. So, this is within one week ie from May 15 to May 25, 2019, because, now I have decided to reviewing security achievements periodically.   

The Edo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Danmallam Mohammed (right) in a warm handshake with the Acting General Manager (AGM), BNCL , Sir Barr. Solomon Imohiosen when the AGM led a team of Nigerian Observer Editors to the office of the Commissioner of Police recently

  Before now, we have discovered this issue of worrisome car snatching but we have been able to put our hearts together and curtailed them. Because, I discovered that everyday, they snatched plenty cars and the ones they snatched are abandoned and they carry another one, some of them, after their operations, they will abandon the car, but we have curtailed that for now. Even on weekend, about six cars armed robbers who used cars for robbery were arrested and two died while trying to escape police arrest and hit museum wall at Ring Road, Benin City. We got the suspects with weapons and over N235,000 including different items they robbed from other people were recovered from the suspects.

  You know, the IGP insisted that we should face squarely this issue of heinous crime, kidnapping, cultism, armed robbery and issue of murder. On our last meeting, the IGP query that why should we focus our attention on the yahoo yahoo boys and we should forget about that. That our focus should be on this hardened criminals who are disturbing the people in the society, killing innocent people and this is where we are Fortunately, I can say that in Edo State we have our own security challenge, but so far so good, the crime rate have been reduced to the bearest minimum with the support and cooperation from the media, other sisters security agencies, like military, DSS, Civil Defence and we have good synergy with them in fighting this crime and the good people of Edo State, that include the traditional rulers, religious rulers civil society groups, students unions they always volunteer intelligent information to  us and in most times, information they give us is most times almost 95% accurate. So, the synergy especially with the media is so fantastic and marvelous as I can not thank the media enough as they have given me enough coverage. So, this is a kind of synergy we need. I see the press people as partners in progress because they are always behind me even when I was in Enugu State and this my relationship with the press started when I was ASP, DSP in Lagos State in the days of National Concord Newspapers etc.    

   ON THE ISSUE OF ALLEGED RESSURGENCE OF THE OUTLAWED CDA: You can see what I was telling you before that intelligence information from the press is helpful and this is good information, they are outlawed, and I will inform my officers to take note of the areas mentioned, we will go there and find out and anybody we find wanting will be arrested and persecuted because, they are already outlawed and they should stay away from Edo State. Once we have intelligence like this, we will move and make arrest.

 State Government Relationship With The Command: When I say we partner with important stakeholders in the state, Edo State Government is number one and it was oversight that I did not mention them even when I mentioned so many, they are number one in this order and they have been very supportive to the command. Even recently, the Edo State Government gave the command 10 vehicles for our security operations within the state. So, the state government under the leadership of our amiable Governor Godwin Obaseki has been very supportive as we cannot thank him enough. Edo State Government are our partners in progress.

  *Challenges faced by the command in the area of personnel.

  You know, the issue of lack of manpower is a major challenge but you will recall that I made mention of synergy with other security agencies.

  So, most times, our brothers like the Nigeria Army, Airforce, DSS do joints operations and compliment one another. And you know issue of intelligence are better of  sharing within ourselves. Remember the DSS gave us intelligence where we arrested five notorious tEdobook ists those who have affiliation with Boko Haram and those who are from Kogi. We arrested the first set of five and we have already transterred them to force Headquarter as the IGP detective team there are currently handling the matter. They are confirmed Boko Haram. And recently on the 12th of May 2019, we made another big arrest, another four tEdobook ists group, the same Boko Haram element and one of them escaped from Kontokarife Prison break. Remember, the Boko Haram people went and rescued them. It may interest you to know that one of them said he is an Okada rider after much interrogation and others, he confessed to be member of Boko Haram. He said him alone killed 40 people.  The gang leader was confessed to be using juju (black power) to avoid police arrest by turning into rat or goat and disappeared. But on the day of his arrest, his juju did not work. So, we got him arrested and even the governor of Kogi State was surprised because the military in Kogi State and police were looking for this people but they couldn’t get him, but here in Edo State, we got him. So, we have transferred them to Kogi because most of their crimes were committed within the axis of Kogi State and in some of the South Western States.

   They were using Edo State before as their hideout as they will go out from Edo State and commit evil and run back to the state using it as their safe haven. But we got them and transferred them to the Kogi State police command for further investigation and interrogation. On our part, we could not connect them with major crime in Edo State. They were using the state as a hideout before. So, you can see the importance of synergy. Even one of the military officers who came from Lokoja told me that the gang leader has been on their radar for long i.e over six months but they could not track him. So he came personally to confirm that the person they are looking for was arrested. When, he saw him, he couldn’t believe it. Here in Edo State, the people are really giving us the needed supports because I operate this open-door-policy and as you know security issue is everybody’s business. Me, I am in Edo State for everybody and the same time, I belong to nobody.

*Reasons for the Reduced Herdsmen/Farmers clashes in Edo State.

  You know we are in democracy and  the good pillars of democracy is the issue of negotiation, dialogue and once you have that, you lobby. I encouraged my area commanders and DPOs to always have meetings with the herders farmers, traditional rulers and religious leader in communities and strike understanding amongst them: and whereby a native went and rustle herders animal or cow they must pay, whereby, herders now go and enter their farms and destroy crops they must pay. It is an issue that is very clear to all parties and they all have agreed and it has helped a lot in reducing the tension. Even, the Fulani leaders we encourage them that any bad element amongst them should be exposed. Some of these people have been here for long and have already integrated with the local communities. So, we advised them not to allow criminals to come  into the communities and cause problem, some of them volunteer information to us and we have been making a lot of arrests.

   Sir, what is your views on the clamour for community policing 

As far as I’m concern, community policing is not a new thing. It has been part of us for long, its only that the white people brought it in another form. As a police officer, how do you operate without the support of the members of the community you operate? So, it has been with us for long. It is like an old wine in a new bottle.  However, it is good that everybody is clamouring for it. The concept is for you to partner with members of the public and this partnership is a sort of give and take between us the police officers and the community leaders. And any information they give us is supposed to be handled with all sense of responsibility.

  The community has contributed a lot. Some donate cars, equipment and financial support when going on operations, so all these are under the concept of community policing. And it is for us police officers to be closer to members of the community.  Under the concept of community policing, issues of extortion of money by policemen from members of the public is down. Bail is free, please let members of the public know. And under the concept of community policing we are saying no to illegal arrest and detention, and we are saying no to torture and extra-judicial killings. This is the concept of community policing, it believes when you arrest, charge to court, follow and ensure there is diligent prosecution of cases.

On issue of bail, suspects at police stations are forced to still part with something being-arranged bail.

That is why we have dedicated lines that we give to members of the public. I have intervened severally where some persons reported such issue to me. I called the DPO who immediately released the persons. So all we need is information. Bail is free and any body who collects money must refund it. We do not want to dismiss them because we are talking of manpower. When you dismiss now, (laugh!) they already know everything about the police they will go back and cause more havoc. So, we have administrative way of dealing with them. somebody who is a sergeant when you reduce him to corporal it is very painful, a corporal reduced to constable, so you understand, discipline is the bedrock of the Police Force.

The only way we can say somebody should go is when heinous crimes like kidnapping, armed robbery, murder, you know they are capital offences.

At the State Command Level we have X-Squad responsible for monitoring and discipline of police officers. They are often on mufti, they make arrest and detain. The section is in CID.

How will you access Edo people?

They are very wonderful, amiable and supportive. In fact, they are fantastic.

How does the police deal with distress calls considering the terrain and vehicles.

We still go, no matter how bad the terrain is, sometimes we trek, sometimes we use motorcycle to go and rescue people. Once there is information, we move, it is our work. Whenever they draw my attention I must get an officer to move and rescue the citizen because we do not want anybody to die.

How do you deal with the issue of tradition and police work like case of the Benin Chief Priest who was arrested in Evbuekoi Community and brought to Benin City when tradition forbid his entering the city.

Historically, everybody has his own tradition and as police officer wherever you are, you should be conscious of that. It is part of what we call in policing “local knowledge.” The issue is that the chief priest they brought to Benin, by tradition, he is not supposed to be here. By bringing him, they have already distorted the culture and tradition of Benin people. And it may interest you to know that the people who did it are indigenous people. First the complainants, one of them is his former secretary, the second one is his subject and they know that by Benin tradition, the chief priest is not suppose to come to Benin, still they came and deceived police and reported. What pained me most is our indigenous police people who are from here, who know the culture, they went and brought the man. When they brought him he said Oga!  I am not supposed to be in Benin traditionally, and that I told them still they insisted I must come. So I told him not to worry because I know there was conspiracy. By tradition if he enters he will die, so they wanted him to die but you will not die. So we will do everything possible to satisfy the tradition of Benin, some chiefs from the palace came and said they have to make some sacrifices before the chief can go back to his place. I said how much? The people who went and dragged him should pay. They went and bought dogs and what have you.

Their plan was to kill that man, they said it happened before, they said they were four in this Benin who cannot enter Benin by tradition, they said one of them dared it and after two weeks he died. So they want the man dead that was why they conspired and brought him to Benin, otherwise, they have police station there, why did they bring him to Benin?

So all the police officers that were involved, we did not leave them. Even the palace chiefs that came, we told them to inform the communities that Royal Majesty that we are 100 percent with him, we respect the tradition of Benin Kingdom which is one of the oldest kingdoms in sub-sahara Africa, we cannot come here and allow some vagabonds to come and distort it, it is not possible. We are all products of tradition, especially the Benin tradition. So, that issue we handled it with care because we cannot allow the chief priest to die for nothing. So that was the reason we compelled them to make all the sacrifices, which they did.

   Later, even the chief priest sent his people to thank me that he appreciates the way I handled the matter. It was a conspiracy to kill him. But thank God he is alive to tell the story.

What will you like to be remembered for in Edo State sir?

I want the good people of the state to remember me for reducing crime to the barest minimum and I was an elite police officer with an open door policy...

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