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No hiding place for criminals in Anambra Ė Police Commissioner

Posted by From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka on 2008/04/23 | Views: 561 |

No hiding place for criminals in Anambra Ė Police Commissioner


Like most of his compatriots, the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Police Command, Mr Oliver Osuchukwu, believes that Nigerians are to be blamed for the corruption in the police.

Like most of his compatriots, the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Police Command, Mr Oliver Osuchukwu, believes that Nigerians are to be blamed for the corruption in the police.

In a chat with Daily Sun the gentleman officer pointed out that no Nigerian would encourage his bright and brilliant child or relation to join the police; rather they would even give bribe to have their recalcitrant ones enrolled in the force.

Osuchukwu who spoke of his strategy in combating violent crime in Anambra State in the last one year described policing in Nigeria as very challenging. He also gave an insight into the strategies he used to keep armed robbers at bay in the state.

The officer Oliver Osuchukwu
I am Oliver Osuchukwu, I hold a BA degree in Foreign Languages. I joined the Nigeria Police Force in 1978, passed out in 1979 as a cadet ASP and posted to Ogun State. Since then, I have been progressing. I donít think it is necessary to mention all the states I have served. However, at least, as a commissioner of police, Iíve served in various states, Bayelsa State, I was there for three years, Iíve been commandant of the Police College, Maiduguri, Iíve been Duty Commandant, Niger State, eventually from Niger State to Anambra State as the Duty Commandant of Anambra State. So, Iíve been moving up and down. Iím enjoying my job, itís challenging. I have no alternative than to enjoy what I am doing.

Policing
Policing is really very challenging, very, very challenging. In fact, the challenges in the Nigerian context are much more enormous, general policing is challenging but it is very, very enormous in the Nigerian context. It is very, very challenging doing policing in Nigeria and it needs a lot of qualities. You must have enough good virtues for you to properly police, particularly in Nigeria and I think Iíve been able to acquire such virtues so to say and Iím aware, Iím not under any illusion that it has been very easy. And until somebody appreciates the enormousness of policing the person cannot get it. It needs a lot of energy, your mental capacity must be extra-ordinary every time, you must be diligent, very patient, very, very resolute, you must be fair, you must be firm, before you can police properly, particularly in the Nigerian context.

Why policing is more challenging in Nigeria?
You see, in our country the exploits of the police are not appreciated because there is this stereotype, mindset that policemen are corrupt; for whatever reason, I may not know. There is a mindset that most members of the public do not really appreciate the policemen, rather they regard policemen as their enemy and if anything bad happens to policemen, most members of the public feel happy; if something good happens, they tend to play it down and in a situation like that, you get confused, you can get irritated if you are not really strong. A situation whereby the majority of members of the public either by omission or commission refuse to admire or accept the only agency that takes care of their lives and property is pathetic, and life is the most precious thing. So, the police job under normal situation is unique.

There is no other job on earth that can be compared with the police job, not only in Nigeria, all over the world. All over the world, there is no other agency that takes care of oneís life and property. It covers all other jobs, it encapsulates every other jobs.

So, there is no other job that has the uniqueness of a police job, the police job is supreme. , As I speak with you, who are the people protecting my wife and kids in Owerri where they are? The police, even myself as commissioner of police, I canít protect myself, I canít protect my family, it is another policeman that will go and protect their lives and property. Once this life is snuffed out, you are gone and everything will come to zero, but unfortunately, in Nigeria, people have refused to appreciate them, rather they would want every bad thing, everything sinister to happen to them.

It is very, very unfortunate and that is the aspect that is very disgusting, I wouldnít say very disturbing because as far as Iím concerned, that is the truth. So, it is part of the challenges Iím talking about.

Attitude of some policemen
I agree with you to an extent, that some policemen, their attitude to the public is nothing to write home about. But, Iíll quickly push it back to the same public that are creating impossible situations for the police and I will explain. I told you that policing in Nigeria is incredible, you cannot imagine it. Now, who are the people for which police are being maligned all over the place? Who are they? They are policemen, they did not come down from the blues, and they are sons and daughters of the same members of the public that are vilifying the police.

Why havenít they cautioned their sons and daughters not to do the bad things they are doing? Why should they now throw it back to the police and will quickly dine and wine with loved ones, their sons and daughters when they come for breaks, even praise them for the efforts they are making. And the same people will return and they will never caution them.

How many Nigerians have called their sons and daughters who are in the police to caution them? All the policemen you see all over the place, who are they? They are sons and daughters, in-laws and relations of the members of the public. How many Nigerians, members of the public, because the job is unique, you canít tell me what of bankers, have they called bankers and others to caution them, no, because of the uniqueness of the police job, and that is why the strategy about it is unique. They protect lives and property and life is the most precious thing to any human being. How many members of the public have called them to say donít do this, donít do that, if you do this or that you are bringing shame and curse to the family, no. The same Nigerians, if some of the corrupt and impossible ones will come home with some goodies, they will shower praises on them.

Oh, my son, oh, my uncle, all that, you are trying, you are a very good boy, you are trying, in fact, these other members of the family are not rending help, you are the only person who is making effort. They will not ask him, where did you get the money?

But the same people, as they are in their cars, they are travelling and they see another policeman taking money, they will say look at this thief. But his brother who is a policeman is doing the same and he is equally a thief. The same Nigerians after instigating their brothers and sisters and the rest of them to go and steal, will turn round and start accusing the police. Let me ask you again, how many Nigerians including you and I have encouraged their diligent, bright and intelligent sons and daughters to join the Nigeria Police?

How many? I have not done it, Iím sure you have not done it. I know that as a young man by the time you get children, you will be watching them, the most bright and intelligent and the good ones after their school and somebody comes to tell you to let them join the Nigeria Police, you will think itís an abomination; rather if youíre unlucky and have anyone that is not bright, anyone that is a thorn in the flesh of the family, heís the one that you will encourage, you will even go and bribe the recruiting officer to get that one in.

And then at the end of it all, you are looking for angels on the road. You are looking for a very bright, hard working, intelligent and diligent police officer. Such magic does not occur; such miracle will never happen. So, you find out that the few that are moderating the situation are those who joined on their own volition, if you are waiting for those members of the public who are accusing the police of one thing or the other to be encouraged to come to police force, the force would have collapsed. But there are so many who came on their own, either they are attracted by the uniform; they are attracted by having some authority, and so many other factors that they on their own decided. If you go and interview any of them, they will tell you how their parents or relations had discouraged them before because it is their decision, they are the good ones you see.

Those ones, they are brilliant, they come on their own, some of them are from very poor family and they want to get a job and from there, they read and progress.
So, until Nigerians begin to encourage their brilliant and educated sons and daughters to join the Nigeria Police, the perfect and very diligent hard working and functional police force will continue to elude us. You cannot sow maize and expect wheat, itís what you sow you reap.

Policing Anambra State
Very simple, very simple methodology, but it takes one with conscience to achieve the peace in the state security wise. I am not being immodest, you can go and check my records, if you go to Bayelsa and ask about me, my tenure for three good years, I donít think that there is any commissioner of police that was posted to Bayelsa that spent more than a year because of the volatile nature of the place. I went to Bayelsa; I was there for three years, I was in my fourth year before the eruption, the one that involved the former Governor Alameseieye, eventually I left the place.

If you go to Niger today, the few months I spent there as commissioner of police, ask them, if you go to Maiduguri, where I was commandant of the police college, in fact, a few hours ago an officer came here, he was posted there not quite long ago, he came here and said he wanted to see me that what people are saying about me are wonderful. I mean in the College not in the field now, in the Police College, Maiduguri, I was the commandant there for almost a year. He said he was on holiday and said he must come and see the commandant that much has been said about, how I managed the college, how they were very comfortable and so on.

And I came to Anambra State, it is the same thing. As far as I am concerned, I do not think about any other thing except my job. When I came, people had their opinions, presumptions, but I sat down to prepare my strategy, what Iíve been doing in other places. In fact, I wanted to do more of it here because Iím an Igbo man. When you start to do the right thing, there is no person who does not like good thing.

I look at the situations; I go into what I may call strategic anti-crime initiative, depending on what is happening in that state. You know what was happening at Onitsha, it is a different strategy for Onitsha; Nnewi there was a different strategy and Awka here, a different strategy. And, of course, I do not waver and that is why when I come to a place, the majority of the members of the public, the masses, they will like me. It is only a few elite who will want you to do something that is for their selfish interest and if you fail to do it, they blackmail you.

And that never bothered me wherever I was, so, I will come down, plan my strategy and call my officers and men, this is the way it is going to be, that is the way I operate.
By the time I came here, it wasnít like this because they were compromising so much. Somebody will be caught red handed robbing, the next thing after some weeks or months, they may change it to unlawful possession of arms, some thing like that. Despite the fact that you charge the person to court, you compromised. At times, outright compromise of even a clear case of armed robbery, somebody caught, money changed hands here and there and he will be left, the person will come back to wreak more havoc. In my case, I donít know what is this money, money thing.

If I tell you that in the process of doing my job, I have not taken a bribe you will say itís a lie. The police job is essentially a thank you job, because of the uniqueness of the job, itís not bribe. Somebody who protects your life, you have to be alive before you can attack your enemy, you want to be alive. So, if a policeman does his job diligently, he attracts so many good things, he will even get more than when he tries to extort.

This is what I have been trying to impact in my officers and men. The good ones have imbibed the idea, but the incorrigible ones, there is nothing you can do because their family put them in the condition, but, at least, the majority have imbibed it, no compromise. If we get you and you are a criminal, you are finished, either you are cut down while committing the offence or you are caught and sent to court. So, this system has made it possible to reduce the number of criminals in circulation.

Again, there is no way you will control crime except you put the criminals out of circulation, no other way; jail them, make sure you do not compromise. In our case, we have made it that any DPO that arrests somebody with gun and compromise, he is in for it, you must expose him.

Most of the criminals are in jail, most of them have been cut down, before I came here, there was hardly any day that will pass without somebody being shot and killed and their money taken, it was everywhere. Itís not even the issue of saying police increase your men, patrol, no where will you patrol, when you patrol one end of the town, they go to the other end. They do what they wanted to do.

We adopted a strategy, an undercover; I said okay, wearing uniform, using police vehicles every day, letís adopt an undercover operation and we were catching them like fowl with bird flu. And within few months, we have brought sanity, we are not God, but you can testify that robbery in this state is greatly minimized.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.