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It is sad robbers donít even respect the house of God - Ehindero

Posted by The Vanguard on 2005/08/29 | Views: 377 |

It is sad robbers donít even respect the house of God - Ehindero


Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Sunday Gabriel Ehindero, is eight months in office. In this interview with Kunle Oyatomi and Kingsley Omonobi in Abuja, he bares his mind on very topical issues affecting the police and concerning crime

Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Sunday Gabriel Ehindero, is eight months in office. In this interview with Kunle Oyatomi and Kingsley Omonobi in Abuja, he bares his mind on very topical issues affecting the police and concerning crime

IT is eight months since you took over as the inspector-general of police. How has it been so far?

We have really done a lot within this period. We have created a new direction for the force through the ten-point programme of policing with integrity. On assumption of office, I carried out a reorganization of the Police Mobile Force (PMF) because I discovered that a lot of people overstayed their time in the PMF while others who were not qualified to be there were sent there. There were carpenters, tailors and others who were not supposed to be there.

Some had been there for 10, 15 and even 20 years while in actual fact, they are supposed to spend maximum of six years. Some policemen who joined service and had not got up to two years experience were sent to the PMF, which was wrong. So you can see where incidences of accidental discharge are coming from. So I demobilized them and regulated the PMF. Only qualified officers are now sent there and you must have observed that there is a lot of improvement there.

Highway patrol

Next was the highway patrol sector of the police force. It was formally run from the headquarters here. I found out that it created a lot of problems and gave room for the highway police to do a lot of funny things. So I ordered the divestment of the highway patrol teams from the Force Headquarters. This is because we cannot sit here in Abuja and effectively monitor what they were doing, especially when my office was inundated with complaints about certain wrongdoings from these men. Since they operate in the states, where the highways pass through, we felt that for effective performance of their duties as well as effective monitoring, the highway patrol should be under the State Commands. I felt they will be properly and effectively monitored, and that if they commit illegalities, it is easier to get to the State Commands and make complaints. I must tell you that this action has worked very well because reports I have got even from members of the public indicate that most of those funny things they do no longer take place.

We observed that with your ten-point programme encapsulated in the policy of policing with integrity, robbery still very much takes place. Donít you think that dropping Fire-For-Fire policy emboldened these robbers?

First and foremost, I believe that the fire-for-fire policy achieved the purpose for which it was set up. We are in a democracy and I believe we should not be left out in the reforms sweeping through the entire Nigerian nation and its fabric. I believe democratic policing should be the norm, where emphasis should be placed on community policing and policing with integrity.

A policeman who cannot police with these tenets is not fit to

wear the uniform. That is why we are placing emphasis on intelligence gathering, to get the robbers before they act or get them in their hideout. Most of the extra-judicial killings, accidental discharges, the Apo Six, for instance, may have been fallouts of the fire-for-fire policy and the fact that we were able to rise up to the challenges of doing what we did by covering nobody in the Apo killings and charging the officers to court, telling Nigerians that policemen erred, that they should face the music, should tell you that we are serious about policing with integrity. Just a few days ago, we paraded nine police officers that supplied arms and ammunition to armed robbers.

They would be tried and possibly dismissed because things cannot be as usual in the police force anymore. There are other immoral acts that a few do. We will continue to fish them out and deal with them until they imbibe the new trend.

In recent times, specifically, the last two months, there have been attacks on churches, particularly a Catholic priests was killed. It has caused apprehension. What is the police doing and what clue did your men get?

Attack on churches is a very worrisome development to the entire police force and me. I called the commissioner of police in Lagos State about the matter and he told me what he was doing to address the situation. I have now directed that policemen be sent to churches as well as to the residence of the priests. I even called the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, and we had discussions on the issue. So it is not only sad, it is very worrisome to me that even in the temple of God, these robbers will go there and commit crime. But we are doing something about it because we are taking it very seriously.

What about continued attacks on banks and other financial institutions. Kidnapping for ransom has been added to the new wave of crime too?

On that issue, we are not resting because it is very worrisome

to us as well. We have changed and improved our strategy on ways of dealing with such attacks. For instance, our armoured vehicles are to be deployed to scenes of such robbery attacks because we discovered that these armed robbers are always armed with very sophisticated weapons. Government has helped us in this regard and Mr. President had given approval that all broken down armoured vehicles in the police be rehabilitated in this regard. It will give us more firepower since these robbers are very daring. The other day at Surulere in Lagos, robbers were operating in a bank and when our men got there, they (robbers) were firing non-stop. We deployed our armoured vehicle and they were still firing. Though we eventually overpowered them and killed some of the robbers, you find out that at the end of the incident, the robbers fired over 500 rounds of live ammunition on our men.

Regarding kidnapping for ransom that you talked about, that is an entirely new and dangerous phenomenon that is rearing its ugly head now. It is very worrisome as well to me. But we are working on it. Our initial findings show that those who are close friends or relations perpetuate this crime. The other day, I was on the air talking about the efforts we put into arresting the culprits who kidnapped the child of the accountant-general of Kogi State and demanded a ransom of N8 million. We succeeded in rescuing the child. One of those we caught, was the relative of the accountant general. So you can see that the public has a role to play if the job of the police is to be successful.

They (public) have been helping us with information, especially since we brought integrity policing, but they should do more because these robbers live among us.

Incidences of political attacks are still very much with us and when they occur, the police oftentimes appears taking sides with those in power. How do you explain this?

Henceforth, the police will not sit down and wait until lives and property are destroyed due to political friction or misunderstanding. We intend to wade into such conflicts, call the parties in dispute and assist them resolve their problems so that peace is not jeopardized. The incident at Igueben in Edo State for instance comes to mind. We have just had a meeting with the various parties involved. It is a very clear case. The state attorney general and some government officials were in attendance, so was the chairman. At the end of it all, they were all satisfied. The law is very clear. The parties are all members of the PDP. Both sides were wrong, they had their own faults. The law says the chairman can be suspended for only two months, not exceeding two months, and we found out that the suspension went for more than two months (nine months).

Occupying office forcefully

The law also does not allow the local government chairman to occupy office forcefully through self-help. So both parties were wrong and we pointed this out. So the solution is not only legal solution, there are also social and political solutions to the matter.

It is frightening to note that policemen who carry arms, who we rely on to provide security for the populace, are paid a mere N8,000 monthly. What are you doing regarding improvement of welfare of policemen?

It is true that there is need to improve on the welfare of policemen. I have today, for instance, directed that policemen posted here for special duties be paid some money.

Senior police officers are to get N10, 000, inspectors are to get N6, 000 and constables are to get N4, 000. This is in addition to their salary. I have given them that for them to take care of their needs for the time they will be in Abuja on special duties pending the time they are changed. What I want to say is that we have looked into the welfare needs of the policemen. We have seen areas that need improvement and we have recommended that some allowances that have stagnated be reviewed. For instance, torch allowance is N50. What is N50? We have recommended that they should be looked into.

The minister of Police Affairs is taking up the issue and I am sure something will come out of it. We are also doing other things in this regard. For instance, we are working to establish chaplaincy in the police where we have imams and pastors, so that the moral side of life will be inculcated on our men. You see, life is not all about bread and butter. There is not really much in life, unless you know your God. If you have these values and principles of spirituality, not religiousity, then you will take everything as the will of God. The demand for earthly things will diminish and acquisitive tendencies will be reduced. Because come to think about it; today I am the IG, how much can I eat? What I ate this morning was not more than N50 pap (akamu) and that is it.

You see, God is a leveller to everybody. The rank and file that you talk about, they may not have money like we the seniors have, but they can eat anything. On my part, maybe because of age or so, they will say because of cholesterol, donít eat meat, donít take sugar, donít take eggs, but you have money, you can't eat, so God is a leveller. That is what I tell them. Believe me, and I believe it too that as the IG today, I am not superior to anybody. I believe that life changing events do not occur by chance. It is a way of God enabling and using us to achieve his purpose on earth and everybody has got a road map. You cannot go beyond where God says you will go. You cannot go below where that map will take you.

Despite all these, we still have situations where policemen kill innocent people because of N20. You (IG) say donít give, and if they refuse, they are killed. What is the way out?

It demands that you should not see those things and keep quiet. Point it out. My PRO was on a radio programme recently and people called to say policemen were somewhere extorting money. What we did was that we set up a task force, went there and arrested all those taking money. We are trying them now for dismissal. We are a police force of over 325, 000. If you have only 1, 000 of them committing that offence, they still tarnish the image of the police.

Majority of policemen are not corrupt. There are only those who will not hear the whistle of the hunter like a dog. It is the dog that does not hear the whistle of the hunter that goes astray. We will continue to fish them out and punish them.

So it is a continuous process. In an effort to stop these things, I called members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers to this office, I called all State police commissioners, I called the Mobile Police Force here and I called the Highway Patrol teams here and said, let us discuss this problem. At the end, I told road transport workers not to give them money on the road. Donít give them.

Anyone that insists, let me know and they reported back that things have improved on the road, even though you still have few elements with this bad habit, and as you know, old habits die hard, they donít go easily but they will meet their waterloo soon.

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Comments (23)

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emilia(Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria)says...

Wow,trying to get across to Ekene jnr he happens to be my old friend,lost his contact.any info would do me good

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Valarie(Nairobi, Kenya)says...

What’s your point?

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robloxian(Bangor, Maine, US)says...

hahahaha u r a wierdo…hehehe

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ur so boring(To, Northern Territory, Australia)says...

have u ever thought the garbage or the toilet might be jealous? Ur so full of shiz- white piece of shiz BET lol. That's where ppl like you belong (toilet garbage etc), ik the truth hurts but dont take it as an insult im just trying to describe you; ik im good at it ty-The truth hurts right. JSYK black ppl aren't nerds were just smarter than you oops Btw BLMM!!!

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robloxian(Bangor, Maine, US)says...

wow so bad.

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robloxiansays...

U r weird gus

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yawning(On, Northern Territory, Australia)says...

Hmmm define weird plz