Mr. Patrick E. Ukpan is the commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) command. In this interview with BABA YUSUF, he says security operatives need information from the public in order to effectively curb the activities of one- chance operators and other criminals in the territory
What strategies are you putting in place to curb kidnapping, one-chance syndicate and other vices in the FCT?
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps is a law enforcement agency. We are responsible for the maintenance of peace and order and curbing of crime within the society. So, as a security agency, first of all, we have our intelligent operatives that are giving us information about criminal activities around us. We synegise with other security agencies by sharing intelligence that would make us come up with strategies to curb the altitude of criminals, especially kidnappers, ‘one chance’ syndicate, armed robbers and vandals. We go after them. Also, we collaborate with members of the public, because security is not a one-man business. You don’t leave it alone for security agencies. The security operatives are not spirits: they rely on information they get from members of the public to act and when we get such report, we urgently move into action. Our efforts have been yielding results. We investigate and we prosecute them.
What measures are you putting in place to checkmate the movement of Fulani herdsmen in search of greener pastures, without causing crisis between them and farmers?
Yes, you know the NSCDC has a new department known as the Agro-Rangers. We have trained the personnel there on how to resolve conflicts and on how to manage issues that have to do with farmers and herders crisis. So, now that traditionally the herdsmen are migrating from one region to another, during these processes, they are going to be passing through communities, so this unit that we have will be liaising with members of the public and various communities. We would be holding meetings with them; the cattle rearers, the farmers, as well as the traditional rulers so that they can have an understanding among themselves and then make them understand that. If there are issues of grievances from any of them, they can refer to us for help or find solutions to them. We told them they should let us understand their problems before taking laws into their hands. Agro-Rangers are trained and they can handle any crisis. These Agro-Rangers units are established in all the commands of the 36 states, including the FCT.
So, have you arrested any vandals in the territory?
Yes, we have been arresting all the time. In most of the arrests we have made, you would find out that they are vandals of electrical wires and cables used for street lights and in some cases; they might even get electrocuted in the process of doing it. So far so good, we made some arrests and we prosecuted them according to the law. We are putting efforts to curtail their activities.
Can you explain the mandate of NSCDC in the FCT?
NSCDC, as the name implies, is a paramilitary agency saddled with the responsibility of maintaining peace and order. In doing that, we have our personnel, including the armed squad, disaster management teams, Agro-Rangers, the Anti-vandals, the Private Guards Companies (PGC) and several units and departments that are created to help us in ensuring that we carry out our duties properly and effectively. Also, in the area of critical national assets, we are there to protect them. We deploy our men. They patrol regularly – day and night – to ensure that vandals do not have free access to vandalise any government infrastructure. We also monitor the activities of PGC: we register them, inspect them and send their information to the Ministry of Interior for approval; in order to issue licence to them and ensure they are working in conformity with the law that established them.
Then, in the area of disaster management, we have our ambulance and our clinic at the national headquarters. We take any victim of disaster there for treatment. In the area of solid minerals, NSCDC has mine and steel department. The Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Interior came together and approached the Commandant General to come out with the idea of having the solid minerals department. We have our personnel there that would ensure that activities going on in the mining industry are done properly in line with the laws. Activities such as the taxes that are due to government are paid promptly and then we ensure the eradication of illegal miners, so that it would make the only registered miners have access to mining site and anything they do there is being monitored by government to ensure there is no revenue leakage.
What is your advice to residents?
My advice to residents of the territory is that they should assist NSCDC with information, because it is the key to security management. Security is everybody’s business. We should all come together to ensure that there is sanity in the system. When you see suspicious activities around you, do immediately report to us or any other security agencies. All those that are into crime should have a re-think and stay away from criminal activities, because they cannot involve themselves in crime and go scot-free. They will be caught. Instead of allowing yourself to be caught and prosecuted, you should have a re-think and do what is right. We have a lot of resources in the country that can accommodate everybody and make you carry out businesses that would bring food to your table; instead of going into crime that would not pay you.