Mr Hafiz Inuwa is Delta state commissioner of Police. In this interview with AMAECHI OKWARA, the crime buster says he strongly believes in taking war to the door steps of criminals rather than sudden reactions.
Before you assumed office as CP, there were rising cases of cultism especially in urban cities. How do you intend to arrest the situation?
You see, I have always believed that it is not by confrontations with these cultists or exchanging fire and kill them. When I was in Cross River state, I tried to change that narrative because I believe these cultists are our children, our brothers and we can change them. I decided to introduce a psychological and educational way of changing the narrative by taking the campaign to motor parks, market places, directing my DPOs to go to primary, secondary schools to give various lectures on the negative side of cultism for them to know that it is not the way forward. That is what I have started doing here in Delta state. At the same time, we are ensuring that it is reduced drastically. I thank God that since I came, we have recorded very few and made some arrests but not through confrontations.
A state like Delta with so many ethnic groups, how do you intend to satisfy all of them?
It is a blessing to the state and the country to have many nationalities and ethnic groups. I intend to carry them along by making them know that they are partners in progress. The Inspector General of Police always enjoins us to make people have confidence and trust in the force. That everybody is a partner for peace and security in communities. By so doing, we intend to carry the traditional rulers, market women, students union along for them to realise that security is not about the government alone.
So far, you have achieved a lot of successes. What is the magic?
The magic is that God is on our side. I am determined to make sure I change the narrative by ensuring that our men who were earlier complacent in the discharge of their duties come out to ensure that they do not only discharge their duties effectively and efficiently, but are proactive. I believe in taking the war to the door steps of criminals rather than allow myself to react to sudden problems. So I think dedication to duties is the magic.
We know there is shortage of man power in the force. How is that affecting your job?Yes, we are losing manpower through retirement, death, retrenchment. What I mean by retrenchment is when an officer commits disciplinary offence, either he is either retired or dismissed. By so doing we are losing manpower. That notwithstanding, by the grace of God, Nigeria police has not relented in discharging their duties.
Behaviour like bribery, extortion, illegal detention and arrest has remained the same. Any plan arrest the ugly trend?
People say policemen are associated with bribery and corruption but I laugh. We know that police is a thankless job. The issue is that nobody cares to know the condition of service of the policemen. Is our society corrupt free? How do you differentiate the police force from the society? We are part and parcel of the society. By the way, who gives the bribe? Is it the police that gives themselves the bribe or the members of the public that give the police? Why are they giving the bribe? You see, apart from the influence of the society, the police is the mirror of the society. So, the person that gives and the person that takes are corrupt. What amazes me, however, is that they only look at the person that takes. It is only the police that purge corrupt officers; hardly a month passes by without the police dismissing one or two of its officers.
Are you in partnership with the community vigilante in the state?
Definitely, the IGP said that no police commissioner should see vigilante as adversary, rather as partners and I want to put it on record that the vigilance group in Delta state are helping me a lot to combat crimes and criminalities in every nooks and cranny of the state.
What about kidnapping, isn’t it a major challenge?
It is not that there are no cases of kidnapping here and there; I can only give glory to God that it is going down. This is as a result of the community policy we embarked upon towards ensuring that everybody see reasons why they must partner with the police in order to deal with the issue. Really, I was told that kidnapping was the order of the day in Delta state, but we would continue to sensitise the people. When I came on board, I had to reach out to traditional rulers and community members to get their trust and cooperation. In most cases, kidnapping does not take place without an insider. That is the reason we sensitise people on how best to take care of their personal security. We are also in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and I believe with such coupled with the encouragement we get from the state government and other harmonious relationship we get from our sister security agencies, we would sustain the tempo.
What about money ritual in the state?
It is also a source of worry, however, since my arrival, we have not recorded any but notwithstanding, it’s a source of worry and concern to me. People have to develop confidence not only in police but in other security agencies. As long as our people are hypocritical and not pass information to the security agency, we would continue to have problems. That is why the community police must be embraced by everybody. The perpetrators do not descend from the moon. They are part and parcel of the society and members of the community know them. If they remain complacent, we would continue to have problems, but when they develop confidence in security agencies. They can silently come and meet a senior officer and pass such Information.
Do you have any support from the state government towards fighting crimes?
In fairness to the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, I can say that what I met on ground coupled with the discussion I had with him, he is ready not only partner with security agencies but to give all he has to encourage and ensure that the state is peaceful.
Cybercrimes are everywhere in the state especially university community and urban cities, what plan do you have to tackling it?
Like I told you, we are partnering with even the students union bodies and others with view to work hand in hand to deal with the rising rate of these fraudulent activities. If the society does not stand up, honestly there would be problem. Instead of these young boys to find something reasonable to engage in, they want easy money. It is a source of worry to the country. So, we are not going to allow them have a great deal; we are taking them on and anybody caught would face the music. The law is not respecter of anybody.
Most times, DPOs relax in their duties as a result of which crime rate increases. How do you intend to handle that matters?
That was why at the beginning, I said when I came, I realised the way some officers discharge their duties. I have to show them that I am determined to discipline any officer/DPO who refuses to sit up. For that, I always ensure that I direct them on what to do. Since my arrival, my DPOs go out every day to raid and identify criminal hideouts or anywhere we think criminals operate in an area, we descend on that area. Anybody arrested would be charged to court while we release those not culpable.
What about the herdsmen and farmers clashes?
Well since I came, I have not heard any case of herdsmen going to destroy farm lands. Thank God in his wisdom, His Excellency has already created or has his own special assistant in that area who intervenes between farmers and herdsmen. Since my arrival, all the DPOs are collaborating with the special assistant who is a non-indigene while the other is an indigene, they are very good and they are performing wonderfully. Any Fulani man or woman or group identified by the communities as the perpetrators would be driven away from the state so that they will not come here to commit crime. His Excellency too is always concerned and wants to ensure that the state is peaceful. Any Fulani man who is peaceful would not have problems but anybody who is suspected, we would ensure that such don’t find Delta state a palatable place to commit crime and go free.