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Weve rid Enugu of armed political thugs CP, Azeez

Posted by By CHIDI NNADI and PETRUS OBI, Enugu on 2008/05/02 | Views: 549 |

Weve rid Enugu of armed political thugs CP, Azeez


Before the coming of Commissioner of Police, Mr Bashiru Azeez, to the Enugu State Police Command in July last year, the city was hot crime-wise. Even though the general elections were over, their heat was still too much on the city as arms were still in hands of political thugs who now use them to commit crime.

Before the coming of Commissioner of Police, Mr Bashiru Azeez, to the Enugu State Police Command in July last year, the city was hot crime-wise. Even though the general elections were over, their heat was still too much on the city as arms were still in hands of political thugs who now use them to commit crime.

But before December, Azeez known to be a crack crime buster had brought the crime rate in the state to a manageable level.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Sun in his office recently, the CP said that he has been able to restore night life which has eluded the coal city for many years to it. He also said that his officers and men are committed to stamping out crime in Enugu State, adding that they have been able to keep political thugs at bay, insisting that those seen today committing crime in the state are criminals. Excerpt:

Joining the police
I joined the police force on 15th June 1974 as a cadet inspector. It has been an interesting experience and I want to tell you that it is a very interesting job.

The police experience
There are so many things one had to pass through before getting to this very high rank of Commissioner of Police. Everybody wants to become a commissioner of police because I think thats the ultimate. Its not been easy; along the line we had to do a lot of things; work with different kinds of people, gain experience. During the course of the job, as you know, its a hazardous job, you have to contend with a lot of problems along the line, but the sum is that one has been able to weather the storm. I was posted to Enugu in July last year. I last served in Lagos and only came to Enugu after the elections.

The Enugu Command I met
When I came last year, I think Enugu State like I heard was high crime rate area. So, we thank God that shortly after I came, the government in his wisdom gave us about 20 vehicles which have assisted us greatly in combating crime.
Probably, if the former commissioner of police before I came had such incentive, the crime rate may not have been that problematic because the added logistics has assisted us greatly. So, we have been able to change the crime status of the state, ensuring that it has been drastically reduced.

When you listen to commentaries and what people are saying, you will know that the situation has truly changed. In fact, when I travelled last Christmas on pilgrimage, with what was on the ground, people confessed that they did not even know I travelled and that they have never experienced such a peaceful Christmas; somebody told me that there is a vehicle he bought about five years ago and has not been able to use it until last December; so, that is the structure we are putting in place and I strongly believe that the crime rate has drastically reduced from what was the situation when I came here.

Our manpower
I want to tell you that we have enough men. We have men, but the quality may not be what you want. That is why we train and retrain our men, because it is through such trainings that they are brushed up to get to the standard you want. Now, we have about 5,000 officers and men in Enugu State; if they are properly managed, the number should be adequate.

Crime rate going up
I dont agree with you that the crime rate is on the rise because on a daily basis I get reports of happenings in the last 24 hours on this table. There is no crime free society. I just received a call from a retired Supreme Court judge who called me to thank me for what we are doing in Enugu State. It depends on the way anybody takes it, but I believe, with the reports Im having here; forget about the recent attack on a bullion van, because if you compare Enugu State with other states in the South-East you should be able to know how many times we have had this bank robbery here. And dont forget the area the incident took place is close to Anambra; our men were gallant enough to pursue the men back to Anambra where three of them were killed; people did not know this.

The vehicles are here; we recovered the vehicles they brought to that Oji River and because of the gallantry of our men, they were unable to rob the bank; two of our men were shot on the hand, but they still repelled the robbers and when the DPO, Oji River heard about it, he mobilized and pursued them to Aguata area in Anambra where they shattered the brains of one of the drivers of the vehicles that caused the vehicle to crash into a ditch. But before the policemen got there the other robbers were able to carry the dead bodies of their men; it was later our men knew that they shot and killed them, and the two vehicles they brought were recovered. So, that one should not be used as a yardstick for increase in crime, I believe we dont have upsurge of crime in Enugu State.

Flushing out political thugs with arms in Enugu State
Im happy that the present governor of the state is not well disposed to using thugs and I want to say that it has greatly assisted us. Then, many of the arms given to them by politicians during the elections are in wrong hands, but if not for the position of the state government in not allowing thuggery, it would have been worse for us; those who have them are only using them secretly and almost on daily basis we arrest and even kill robbers within and outside Enugu metropolis.
And most of the arms are being recovered; some of them (hoodlums) have already cut some of the arms to size so that they can easily pocket them, but we are recovering them almost on daily basis. Like I said we thank God that the state government has not encouraged the use of thugs and we have not been witnessing their activities; if anybody is committing crime he is a criminal on his own, not a thug.

Dismantling of road blocks
You see, it is a good thing that we abolished the issue of road block because it is an area that has brought bad image to the police force because when our men are on the road without even asking for anything they are being tempted by people who offer them bribe. But if they are not on the road they have nobody to tempt them.

What we have, therefore, done is to adopt motorized patrols to be on the road along the expressway; and all these vehicles are equipped with communication equipment; if anything is happening we go on the air and everybody picks the information. At that point in time they can now block the roads waiting for the criminals, not blocking the road perpetually. That is the system we are using. When they have information, for instance, that robbers have struck and are heading towards Onitsha-Enugu expressway; we direct patrol vehicles along that route to wait for the fleeing robbers, we then use other vehicles to slowdown the traffic.

The court granting bail to apprehended robbers
I will say Im lucky because I have not experienced that type of situation. The Judiciary in the state has greatly assisted us; I have no problem with them.

Challenges
The major challenge has been how to combat crime. You have your men you have to talk to, otherwise what you dont ask them to do is what they are going to do on the road; but the main challenge is how to see that violent crimes are drastically reduced.

Hope for Enugu residents
Well, I want to believe that you have noticed that nightlife has come back to Enugu city. When I came here in July last year it wasnt like this. Every night I move out on my own to see what is happening and I want to assure the people of the state that they will still have the opportunity of going back to the good old days when you can move out any time of the day, both day and night, and you feel secured. We want to do that, but they also have to cooperate with us, to assist us; because policing should not be left in the hands of police alone.

Serial murder in Inyi community
I know that the first two murders happened before I came to Enugu, either in July or August, there was another murder before the latest in February this year. The third one that I am aware of, police arrested about 11 persons if the people were giving us information, like I said earlier on, we need the people to cooperate with us to give us information. When the last one happened and we were given some information, we arrested four or five persons, including a policeman who was alleged to be part of the problem, they are all in detention and they are being investigated.

We would look at all of them and see whether they are really involved and the level of their involvement. Because its very easy to allege, but we dont want innocent people to suffer; every allegation must be well investigated. I have told the people, if they have any genuine complaint, my office is always open, they can easily come here and we will take appropriate action to see that the people are free from ritual killings.

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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

Actually translates to bravehearted.