The new Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Mr Samuel Adegbuyi, assumed duty on August 8, 2016, having served as Commissioner of Police in Edo State and Maritime commands. In this interview by Deputy Editor, OLUWATOYIN MALIK, he speaks of his mandate and expectations.
It is a common knowledge that state police commands have their peculiarities and measures of crime control. What are your plans towards ensuring peace and security in Oyo State?
The foremost thing for me is to continue the good work of my and to study the different areas of operation very well for re-engineering. I intend to adopt methods that will ginger the officers to be more alive to their responsibilities. They have been doing a very good work but I believe they can do better with motivation.
Oyo has links with many other states and neighbouring countries which makes it easy for robbers to escape with snatched vehicles. How do you intend to address this situation?
You will find out from history that most states in the South-West originated from Oyo State, which was the headquarters of the Western Region in those days. There is hardly any part of the country that is not associated with Oyo State in one way or the other. We have all the ethnic groups in the state as well as foreigners. The state harbours all and sundry. What we intend to do is to blend the various ethnic groups and make them work in harmony.
We place much premium on border areas because we want to control crimes in all its ramifications. We don’t want to limit our surveillance or intelligence gathering to the state alone; we want to checkmate the influx of these people that have been driven from Arepo in Ogun State and Lagos State. We are sharing information with sister agencies and we urge members of the public to have trust in the police and give us useful information to fight crime and criminality.
How would you assess crime rate in your new place of assignment?
Comparatively, crime rate in Oyo State is lowest I have seen, but we don’t to take this for granted, especially with people displaced from Ogun and Lagos states. We don’t want them to breach the peace that is currently being enjoyed in the state.
My advice to everyone is to be our brother’s keeper. If you observe any strange person or movement, alert the police or other security agencies. The issue of security should be seen as a collective responsibility. Everybody should be security conscious.
How do you want to curb stop criminals who use motorcycles to dispossess people of their belongings and attack bank customers?
On the issue of motorcycle riders, on August 10, I summoned all their chairmen to a meeting and they turned up in their numbers with their members. We put heads together and they pledged to fish out the bad eggs in their midst.
If you compare the atrocities being perpetrated by okada riders in some other states, you will discover that what we have in Oyo is manageable. We have given them some assignments which I will not disclose.
By the end of this month, the executive members are coming back. We will be having meeting on a monthly basis to assess the security situation and the activities of okada riders. We believe that by working with them, we will able to achieve success, security-wise. We have equally told them not to carry more than a passenger at a time.
I hope they will cooperate with us and educate their members. We have given them the opportunity to put their house in order and we intend to assess the agreement by the end of the month to see the level of compliance and success achieved.
Talking about those displaced from two neighbouring states, it has been noticed that there has been an increase in the number of beggars on the streets and at traffic light points. With cases that had been handled in the past involving some armed robbers who were working with some of the beggars, how will you ensure that this set of people will not constitute a security risk?
They are human beings like us. We should handle their case very carefully so that we don’t create more problems. But for the few of them that may be using begging as a means to commit crime, we will fish them out. Begging is not something that anyone will be proud of. Many of them have no choice. They have to survive. We must respect their dignity as human beings.
The issue of land grabbers is rearing its head in Oyo State. Land issues are civil but where is the line drawn between their being civil and criminal? And how do you intend to curb their activities so that those escaping from a state like Lagos will not find a haven in Oyo State?
It is very easy to differentiate between the civil aspect and the criminal aspect. The court is there for those fighting over the ownership of a parcel of land through civil litigation. If there is certificate of occupancy issued to a particular person pertaining to a piece of land, the ownership has already been established. But if it is proved that the C of O is obtained fraudulently, that is another issue.
In a situation where land grabbers are fighting themselves, it is no longer a civil matter. If you are armed or you injure someone, or death occurs, it is criminal. Since I assumed duty in the state, there has been no reported case of land grabbing. I am not saying it is happening or not happening but I have not had any complaint that land grabbers are fighting in any part of the state since I came.
There have been complaints from members of the public on the attitude of some policemen in relation to corruption and extortion. There have also been cases of policemen conniving with criminals. How do you intend to instill discipline to stop this?
The Nigeria Police Force is the only organisation I know in this country that does not condone indiscipline or cover its men where there are issues of corruption. We have so many units within the police. We have the Inspector General of Police’s monitoring unit, X-squad, anti-corruption squad to monitor officers and men.
If it is established that a police officer has used his office to extort money, the punishments are there. The rank and file are subjected to orderly room trial and punished accordingly if they are found to have involved in malpractices.
Many have been dismissed that way. If it is an officer from Assistant Superintendent of Police and above, he will be issued an official query and one of the agenda of the Inspector General of Police is zero tolerance for corruption, which I emphasised in my maiden address to officers. I told them that any officer found through petition or caught in the act will not be spared.
I have an anti-corruption squad, X-squad and other squads within the state watch the performances of the officers. We are conscious of complaints from members of the public and from time to time, we organise lectures. We have advised the DPOs to send people to check their men at pin-down points to be sure that they don’t use the points for corrupt enrichment.
You can also check the leadership. I am not praising myself but you can check on the type of person I am from the commands I have worked before. If the leadership is not corrupt, there is no basis for the subordinates to be corrupt. It is leadership by example.
What are the security challenges you have noticed and how do you intend to tackle them?
The security challenges that I have noticed so far are not alarming. There has been single case of kidnapping recorded since I came, but we had one or two cases of cut-to-size weapons found with okada riders during stop-and-search. Sometimes the motorcycles are stolen or snatched at gunpoint and we have recovered two or three of such. We have recorded a case of okada rider going to an eatery to disturb those taking their meals. That is the reason behind the meeting with okada riders’ leaders.
I appeal to members of the public to provide useful information to the police. Traditional rulers, religious leaders and various ethnic groups in the state should collaborate with the police in checkmating criminals by providing information that the police can work with.
In recent times, cultism has been an issue in Ibadan, resulting in the killing of suspected cult members during clashes and reprisals. It has been revealed that most of those involved were not students. How are you going to ensure that cultism does not thrive in the state?
The issue of cultism is beyond students from tertiary institutions as we have seen primary school pupils getting involved. It is also not limited to the academic environment. We appeal to parents and guardians to watch their children carefully. These cult members don’t fall from the sky; they live with their parents. Parents should monitor their children’s activities and the people they are associating with. It is a pity that nowadays, parents don’t even ask their children where they got money to purchase expensive things they see with them. When the child of parents that are not working is seen with a handset worth over N100,000 or comes home with a vehicle worth between N3 million and N5 million, such parents should know that something ugly is happening. Charity begins at home.
The role of law enforcement is to monitor; carry out surveillance. But there is equally freedom of movement. Except there is a tip-off, we may not be able to get this group of people. That is why we are appealing to parents, religious leaders, traditional rulers and all well-meaning Nigerians to assist in crime prevention.
Is bail still free?
Bail has always been free. Has there been any time that bail has not been free?
People have complained that they were made to pay before they could bail suspects at police stations.
In Oyo State?
No. That is why you have the Police Public Relations Officer’s office. The Commissioner of Police’s office is also accessible. I have even directed all the DPOs to make their phones accessible to members of the public in case they have complaints. We have monitoring unit; we have the X-squad. Anywhere such a situation is being experienced, members of the public should get in contact with my office. Bail is free and will continue to be free.
What I believe you want to talk about is the issue of surety. In some places, the erroneous impression is that a woman cannot stand as surety for a suspect. But this is not so. A woman can stand as a surety just like a man. However, before you stand surety for a suspect while taking him on bail, you should be conscious that the suspect is expected to appear at the next appointment, either at the police station or in court, you should be ready to produce him or her.
Quote: The issue of cultism is beyond students from tertiary institutions as we have seen primary school pupils getting involved. It is also not limited to the academic environment. We appeal to parents and guardians to watch their children carefully. These cult members don’t fall from the sky; they live with their parents.