Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Alamutu Abiodun, tells OLUMIDE TAIWO about efforts by the security agency to stem the tide of rising crime, including ritual killings, in the state
Before your deployment to Ogun as Commissioner of Police in July, you served in the state in different capacities. How will you describe your experience so far?
Yes, I had been in the state for the past five years as Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of administration. I had equally served in the state as a younger officer between 2005 and 2010. I had the privilege of being the divisional police officer of Ajuwon, in the Ifo Local Government Area. I was also the DPO of Isara Remo in the Remo North Local Government Area. I was a deputy commander and later the commander of Gateway Rapid Response Squad, which is now Quick Response Squad, between 2007 to 2010. It has been like a rollercoaster. Sometimes, the crime rate suddenly goes up, particularly during the ‘ember’ months and that is why we have our special operation during this time to deal with this challenge.
In Ogun State, we have been having it good because we have a standard template that we have put in place and it is quite functional when it comes to fighting crime in the state. This probably explains why the state has been one of the most peaceful states in the federation. We have been able, to a reasonable extent, to fight some of the crimes to a standstill in the state.
However, the challenges that we have now are kidnapping, cultism, and land-grabbing. We have been able to reduce the trend of ritual killing too through sensitisation and advocacy. On the whole, I will say that the state has been very peaceful and we shall sustain this tempo, particularly in this ‘ember’ period that is the last four months of the year which is usually characterised by an increase in criminal activities.
Media reports on crime in Ogun suggest a rise in criminal activities in the state. What is the state command doing specifically to tackle this menace?
Specifically, we shall increase our patrol and visibility, especially on our highways and those places we call flash points and vulnerable areas. We shall increase our visibility to reassure the general public of police presence in such areas and boost their confidence that they are safe. Our patrol and visibility will equally serve as deterrence to criminally minded people because the truth is that criminals will not want to go to places where they know that their chances of getting caught are very high. They prefer going where they will not have any resistance but the truth is that in the crime mapping of the state, we don’t create such an opportunity for them to thrive; we are always ahead of them and that is the reason those who have chosen to undermine the law are not finding things easy in the state.
You see, before criminals go out to operate, what they also do is conduct their surveillance to know whether there is a deployment of security officers that are quite alert in those areas. Once they discover this, they do not come around. Or what is the essence of operating and not succeeding? So, once the criminals find out that the state is well fortified, having visibility of the police where necessary, they know they have come to the end of the road. They know that their only option is to either repent or vacate the state. That is the situation here in Ogun State because we are turning the heat on them daily.
Recently, a man was arrested for killing his father who was over 90 years old while another suspect was nabbed for the murder of his father for a money ritual. Are the police worried about the spate of ritual killings in Ogun State?
Let me clear some things. Murder is a criminal offence, one of those offences that carry the highest penalty or maximum punishment as we all know, but the situational factor under which many of these things happen is such that it is just impossible for the police to be there. Or are we going to deploy policemen to every home? Look at the instance of the boy who killed his father in their home. Do we expect the police to be right in their house? These are the effects of poor parenting.
You said earlier that the state command had been having it good because of the standard template it had put in place. How are you addressing kidnapping in Ogun?
In the last five weeks, there have been no cases of kidnapping in the state. When I resumed on July 5 as the new CP, I was greeted with about four cases of kidnapping but to the glory of God, we rescued all the victims involved without paying a dime as ransom, and ever since we have not heard about them (kidnappers). Maybe the kidnappers have gone back to the drawing board but we also have our strategy in place that will never make them (criminals) thrive. This we shall sustain because they (kidnappers) know that if they ever come around we shall get them. We are not resting on our laurels.
The records are there. We are not saying there will never be a crime because a crime itself is functional; it’s not something that can be eradicated but what I promised was that the crime rate wouldn’t go higher than I met it, and that rather, it would go down and that is exactly what we are doing. I just told you that in the last five weeks, we have had no report of kidnapping.
Land grabbing is another security problem facing Ogun residents. For example, some residents around Oniboku in the Sango Ota axis of the state were said to have deserted their homes because of the terror unleashed on them by land grabbers. Have the police made any headway in that regard?
For the challenge of land grabbing, we have been swooping on them. Once the people give us information about those unscrupulous people, we activate our mechanism to get them arrested and detain them. For cultism too, it has really gone down. When last did you hear about cult-related clashes? We are not giving them any breathing space and this tempo shall be sustained.
I have always been in touch liaising with my AIG in Zone 2 and by the grace of God, he has always permitted me to do my utmost best on cases that have to do with land invasion in our command. It doesn’t matter if either party has run to Zone 2, Lagos, or anywhere. The AIG always refers them back to answer for their misdeeds.
People truly have a way of perverting the course of justice. They would have a case in Ogun State and instead of coming to answer for such a case, they run to Zone 2 to lodge a complaint against the complainant in our command. We have really discovered their tricks and no police officer will ever do anything to help them with their illegality. We have resolved that running to Zone 2 will never save them anymore because the AIG will always refer them back to us to answer whatever complaint is lodged against them. Those constituting this menace, however, have to change because we won’t take it easy on anyone who thinks they can, at will, make life unbearable for our fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers in our remote villages. Additionally, I think we have boxed them into a corner because they have been told in unmistakable terms that my administration will not condone such lawlessness. What we need is information from the people, once they notice the nefarious activities of these land grabbers or that anyone is encroaching on their properties, they should get in touch with the police. There is no doubt that the heat is on them and it is either they find a new trade to do or have the strong arm of the law to contend with. We thank God that we have not been associated with failure, we have been succeeding and we know that many successes will still come our way.
How would you describe the relationship between the state government and the police?
That has been very great. Fortunately for us, we have a very responsible governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, who is very committed to strengthening the security architecture of the entire state. The governor has been very supportive in terms of helping out with logistics, and moral and financial support. He has given us patrol vehicles, walkie-talkies, and motorcycles to access places that are not motorable. The governor has sincerely been a very supportive and dependable ally in crime fighting and management in the state. We are really grateful to the state government.
Recently, it was reported that an inspector of police allegedly supplied guns to some armed robbery suspects in the state. What is the update on that case?
Yes, he is a supernumerary police officer attached to the Redemption Camp. He is with us at the command with the suspect. What happened was that the suspect presented himself to the SPY police officer as a member of a vigilance group but the question here is: Is the police officer here a licensed arms dealer? The matter is already before the Department of Public Prosecution for appropriate charges. So, they will both face the music even though the suspect is a drowning man who will want to clutch at anything.
Apart from kidnapping, cultism, and land-grabbing. What are the other challenges confronting effective policing in the country?
We are all aware of the downturn in the economy, so we can’t have all that we want because other sectors need attention and that is why we have been looking at other approaches like seeking help from the state government. The Inspector General of Police is also doing a lot for us. On Tuesday, September 12, we got a brand new armoured personnel carrier from the Force Headquarters, Abuja. This will boost our crime-fighting efforts, particularly in the ‘ember’ months.
Any moment from now, the APC will be deployed to Sagamu to help in crime fighting in that area. While the IGP and the state government are assisting, we are also not folding our arms. That was why I said the heat was on the criminally minded people and it is either they turn a new leaf or relocate elsewhere, outside Ogun State.
How cooperative have the residents been?
Very good; they have been there for us, encouraging the community and friendly policing strategies we have always talked about by giving us information that could always help us to nip the crime in the bud. We want the good people of the state to keep up the good job.