*Provides hints on how citizens can tackle kidnappers, robbers
The position of Commissioner of Police, Delta State, is a hot seat because of the volatile nature of the multi-ethnic oil-rich state.
One-time Commissioner of Police, Bauchi State, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, is the present occupant of the hot seat.
He spoke to Sunday Vanguard on his frequent battles with kidnappers, armed robbers, the crime situation in the state, and what he is doing to weather the storm.
You recently clocked one year in office as Commissioner of Police in Delta State. What has it been like policing a state as complex as Delta?
Delta State remains a flash point, but I am used to tough terrains as an officer that has been tried and tested in hot spots across the country with the better part of my career spent in the Police Mobile Force, PMF, culminating in my appointment as the Commissioner of Police in charge of PMF in 2009. I was the Commissioner of Police in-charge of Plateau State at the heat of the crises in 2010; the CP, Bauchi State during the upsurge of Boko-Haram insurgency in 2011 and now CP, Delta State, where you have all the vices to wit kidnapping, armed robbery and cultism. Added to these is the multiplicity of ethnic groups and the accruing conflicts of interest – Yes!
I must admit that policing Delta State is indeed complex and tough, but I can assure you that we have surmounted the odds with the various pro-active measures put in place by the Command. So far, we have remained on course in our efforts at ensuring that the good people of Delta State go to bed with their two eyes closed.
The biggest battle in the state is that against kidnapping and armed robbery – are you winning or losing the war?
From our statistics and numerous breakthroughs in 2012, we arrested 467 suspected armed robbers/kidnappers and rescued about 97 victims unhurt. Compared with the figures of the years before, coupled with the new measures put in place to check mate incidents of high profile crimes, which, for obvious reasons, cannot be made public, we can considerably say we are indeed on course at winning the battle against kidnapping and armed robbery in the state.
Why have you not been able to arrest the alleged most wanted kidnapper in the state, Kelvin, said to be from Kokori?
Point blank! His people are sheltering him. They are not helping matters. Police officers and other security agents are not magicians. We need information to work with and where the people from the immediate community of the wanted suspect choose to shelter the suspect , it becomes indeed a cumbersome job for the entire security agents. However, I can assure you that we are closing in on him and his days are numbered.
What are your biggest challenges in the battle against kidnappers?
Insider actions. From the numerous cases of kidnapping that were cracked, more than 90 per cent of them have an insider act, while less than 10 per cent are merely opportunistic. The Queen of Ogwashi-Uku kidnapping wherein a palace boy acted as a pointer and a spring board to the hoodlums and the Osadebe case are examples.
Furthermore, there is the problem of getting to know members of the society with “hostage value” to closely monitor and guard them. There is also the issue of the often-apprehensive members of the families to rush and pay ransoms, thus encouraging the hoodlums, rather than working patiently and closely with the security agents to stamp out this menace from our midst with a note of finality.
These are the big challenges we are facing in our war against kidnappers.
Some top government officials and Deltans are said to always pester you when police apprehend suspected kidnappers/armed robbers known to them. How do you manage to keep to ethical standards in such cases?
Naturally, overtures were made on some occasions, but, we have always stood our grounds and boldly ensured that justice was done in each case. It is on this premise that we arraigned two lawyers in the state whose actions, from our investigations, bordered on criminality.
Furthermore, I must point out that our dispassionate actions as touching the enforcement of our statutory duties cut across, as even within the police circle and other members of the security agencies, those involved in criminal activities are immediately tried departmentally and dismissed from the force before being arraigned in the regular court for the substantive offences.
There was the case of a son setting up himself as being kidnapped and demanding ransom from the father. When the boy was arrested, we refused to yield to family emotions and sentiment; and the suspect was made to face the full wrath of the law.
How has it been between police and the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, office in the state. I understand the police hierarchy in the state is not happy with the way some cases are treated?
Not exactly, though there are one or two cases we had sharp disagreements on, that has been treated at the top level. So far, there have been synergy with the two departments being indispensable organs of our criminal justice system. Between 2012 till date, we have arraigned about 276 cases of kidnapping/armed robberies and other high profile crimes, and case-files appropriately transmitted to the office of the DPP for vetting and prosecution as the case may be.
Last year, some police officers were arrested for writing a kidnap threat to a serving judge in the state. You ordered their detention and trial, but one or two disappeared into thin air. How was the matter handled?
Yes, while four of the police officers were arrested, tried departmentally and dismissed from the Force before being arraigned in court for the offences committed, one of them indicted by evidence did escape, but was also tried departmentally in absentia and dismissed from the Force. While we are still making efforts to effect his arrest, the actions taken as enunciated above became imperative, as we are strictly guided by the Code of Conduct laid down by the Inspector General of Police, IGP, M.D Abubakar, wherein it was stated that you either shape up by keying into the code or be shipped out.
What is your word to Deltans on police preparedness to stamp out kidnapping in the state?
Policing is not a one- man affair but a collective one with envisaged inputs from members of the immediate community.
There is no sitting on the fence as all members of the society should be ready to be part of the intelligence network.
With our modernized telecommunication system, members of the public must show more eagerness to pass genuine information to security agents as the Force is fully poised to ensure that the societal evil called kidnapping is stamped out. Moreover, you will agree with me that armed kidnappers are already retreating from the state.
What is the strangest case you have handled since you came to Delta State?
The strangest case I handled since my assumption of office as CP, Delta State is the involvement of security agents in kidnapping and high profile crimes such as armed robbery.
There was the incident of a threat letter sent to a serving High Court Judge in Warri area, wherein some four policemen, including the Judge’s orderly, were indicted by evidence and also the case involving a serving military officer in the robbery of tankers conveying petroleum products and car snatching.
These cases were, however, neatly concluded and with particular reference to the police personnel involved in the issuance of threat letter to a serving High Court Judge, they were collectively tried departmentally and dismissed from the Force before being charged to court where they are currently standing trial. The same action was meted out to the military officer.
What is the major crime you have cracked since you came to the state?
The biggest crime cracked among several remarkable breakthroughs, is the arrest of a blood- thirsty kidnapping/armed robbery kingpin, who confessed to have successfully been involved in over 40 armed robbery operations during which more than 15 security agents, including army and police personnel, were killed. In one of the confessed operations of the suspect that occurred in December, 2011 at Warri main market, a pregnant woman and her husband were shot dead by this gang and jewelries valued over N3m carted way.
So, looking back, I can say that the arrest of the kingpin and two other members of his gang and the daring recoveries made thereto, which included a cash sum of $30, 000 US Dollars; arms and ammunition of different shades and sizes is the biggest heist I have made so far.
Which case have been the most difficult for you, and which you have not cracked?
The most difficult case for now and which we have not fully cracked is the robbery incidents of two banks in Ibusa in the course of which we lost six officers, some of whom are dedicated crime fighters.
However, we apprehended eight members of the gang and made some remarkable recoveries during the onslaught, but there are some members of the gang, who are at large and we are still making efforts to apprehend them.
You have won many awards as Commissioner of Police in Delta. How do you feel about them?
I feel so elated and humbled to be recognized by members of the civil society, NGOs and pressure groups in the country and beyond with such arrays of awards, arising from the performance of my duty as a law enforcement officer. However, among the lots, the most treasured award is the one that was “personalized” and bestowed on me by Crime Watch International at Accra, Ghana where I received the “Most Outstanding Crime Bursting Police Officer in West Africa” award.
What are you doing to improve the lots of your officers and men as their performance depends largely on how well the authorities take care of their welfare?
I have tried as much as possible to ensure that our men get rewards, either in cash or in kind, for outstanding performances. For instance, our officers that courageously confronted the hoodlums that invaded two banks in Ibusa in May 2012; those that effected the arrest of the afore-stated kidnap kingpin and members of his gang and other breakthroughs achieved by the Command were rewarded.
Besides the instant cash to these officers through my committee of friends, each of them were given IGPs certificate award for gallantry and courage coupled with recommendations made on their behalf for special promotion. As regards our men in the field; that is those involved in special patrols; Anti – kidnapping Squads and SARS, we appealed to the state government for payment of monetary allowances to them, and this is truly impacting positively on the personnel, as we have been recording increased out-put in crime prevention.
If a police officer stops my car on the road and asks for money even when my particulars are complete, or insist I must pay money for bail, what do I do?
Stop and search of vehicles and the issue of bail during investigation are only ad-hoc proactive/reactive measures in furtherance of our statutory duties of law enforcement.
Where/when it becomes necessary to embark on these measures, a police officer is expected to exercise utmost discretion while dealing with members of the public and requesting for money is completely out of it.
However, where such request occurs, please patiently stand your ground and report such unwholesome practice to the Divisional Police Officer within whose jurisdiction the incident occurred or you make use of our distress call numbers: 08036684974, 08125273010 and 08075390753.
If armed robbers storm my house, what do I do?
In the event of such attack, please calm down; do not lose your cool, as experiences have shown that most of these hoodlums are usually junked in hard drugs during operation.
So, in such event, as traumatic as it could be, our advice is that you stay calm but be very observant and make use of our distress call numbers immediately the opportunity arises and for which we have guaranteed 10 minutes response.
What do I do if kidnappers abduct me?
Also be calm and observant, comply meekly with their instructions and we implore family members and relatives of such victims not to be too hasty in payment of ransom, but rather co-operate with security agents in their bid to track down the criminals.