By Augustine Ehikioya
For his open door policy and good initiatives in the past eight months at the helm of affairs, the Commissioner of Police (CP) for Cross River State, Aminu Alhassan, has commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba.
The IGP’s great ideas, including Operation Restore Peace, he said, has helped to tackle crisis in the country, which ushered in peace and calmness in many States.
The CP also noted that the IGP’s great role in the recent Anambra State Governorship election was done with a decisive wisdom.
According to him, the IGP’s open door policy is such that he is ever ready to listen to various ideas from his subordinates.
He spoke in an exclusive interview with Security Watch Africa (SWA) in Calabar, Cross River State.
CP Alhassan also explained that Police salary, which has been very unimpressive over the years, has just been increased by the Federal Government following the IGP’s convincing request.
He said “You know, it is not easy to assess somebody on the throne. But posterity will continue to protect our IGP. Just for your information, deploying of that Operation Restore Peace is not an easy idea. The IGP has done it and it has done very well.
“It is in the IGP’s time that our Salary was increased. Police Salary is not really impressive, but with what he has done, I believe that we will see a very good salary soon.
“Our IGP since inception, even with this issue of Covid-19 has made meeting with senior officers, frequent. No matter how good this Zoom Comference is, it is not like you are there.
“He is the IGP that when you give him idea, he will adopt it. I am one of those people. When we bring ideas to him, he will ask us to bring the blueprint. I, for one, will thank him for that. Because when you bring an idea and it doesn’t look at it as foolish and he accepts it, everybody will feel good.
“There are many things he has introduced, which I’m not in the Headquarters, I may not know. It is during his time that I became a CP. So, we must thank him very well,” he said.
The CP went on “Not only that, the way he conducted Anambra election, many people will look at it as simple something, but that is what brought out Nigeria. If that election had not taken place, Nigeria would never be governable again. That election, again, is a decider and his wisdom to make the election to continue, God bless him.”
Speaking further on how Operation Restore Peace has fared in the State, he said it has performed wonderfully well in Cross River State.
But he regretted that the Operation Restore Peace squad have not returned to the State since it was deployed last year for the Anambra Gubernatorial election.
He said “Operation Restore Peace was here, but they are no more here. Since the election in Anambra, they have gone and not returned. But the aim for which the IGP had sent them was really fulfilled. They were real succour. When they came here, they helped us to protect everybody. The peace that was fragile here, was restored. It was made stronger and extremely perfect.
“If not that the election came with some problem, we would not have allowed the Operation Restore Peace leave. But just for your information, within the town here, all patrols were argumented with our men of Operation Restore Peace.
“How I prayed that they will be returned. When they were here, it was a perfect match,” he added.
Asked to speak on the state of security in the State, he said that the State is calm and everything under control.
“Security at the moment is very superb. The beauty of Cross River now is that all those negative things that were associated with Cross River are now fully mitigated. I will not tell that they are not there, but they are very much under control.
“Everyone now sleep very well and this one is not for nothing, we have done a lot, the roads are all marked. The Police are on the roads, we have carried our operations direct to the known places of the criminals. So I can tell you that the security in Cross River State is superb.
On how he handled the difficult terrains of the State, he said “The State is lucky to have borders with Abia State, with Ebonyi, with Benue as well as with Cameroon. To the south is the Atlantic Ocean.
“So, there is no vegetation you don’t have here. And the problems associated with those places are also there, but we have a lot of checks to really mitigate the problems.
“You see IPOB is the most violent thing that is happening. Our area is bordering with all the Igbo land and we have done a lot in checking that issue.
“And there are pockets of issues associated with IPOB in this area. But we have not experienced any serious issue with IPOB. Most of the investments here are more or less Igbo investments, but all our Igbos are very very calm.
“In Ikom, there is a lot of transactions, business activities going on, but actually nothing like any reference to IPOB.
Most of the tribes by our borders are more or less Cameroonians, they speak the same language. So when Cameroonians come in, in fact, they don’t look like they are outside their country.”
He also explained that’s the ex-militants in the Bakassi area of the State are law abiding.
“Our own Bakassi here, where we have ex-militants, they are really comporting themselves and with the extension of privileges the State government is giving them and some NGOs, who are assisting them, to settle them, we have been meeting and letting them have skills that will make them engage in their works.
“So, we are with them and all the special assistance from the Governor. All these issues, we are working together. In all sincerity, there is no problem from them.”
He said that there is great cooperation and synergy among all the security agencies in the State.
“Police is the lead agency in internal security. The Army, the Navy, the Air Force, other security agencies, Civil Defence Corp, even Road Safety, we are working together.
“The beauty of it is anytime I ask anything from these agencies, like for any operation, in fact, they are even waiting for us to ask them. That is why we find it very very easy anytime we want, anytime we want to do any operation, it’s always fantastic.
“Don’t forget, we also have our own Mobile Units here. It is a perfect arrangement. Those people are working together. Our Policemen here also work with Policemen in other States. They link up.
“The hunters, the vigilantes work with us. There are a lot of arrest by the vigilante and they hand over straight to the Police. We check them, we identify them with I.D. cards and with some incentives, they are all working for us.
“Even the traditional rulers, everyone is a friend to the Police now. We have a lot of fora where we meet to discuss issues. We are really into synergy and it is paying off,” he stated.
Asked his achievements so far, he said “You know, it is not long I personally came here as a CP. But in all sincerity, the former CPs have laid a very good foundation upon which I built on.
“I came about a year after the end of End-SARS protests. End-SARS protest had devasted this State to a very bad level, even the Tinapa that people come to during Carnival, is in a very bad shape. It has been looted and so many ministries and many local governments have been brought down. Many are not working. So, that one in itself has sent a very bad signal. Apart from Lagos, no other State is as devastated by End-SARS protests like this State.
“But when l came, I made sure that no protest for whatever kind takes place on the street. We will never suffer anything that resembles End-SARS. When they wanted to mark the anniversary of End-SARS in Calabar, we stopped it.
“Nobody celebrated anything like that. We warned them through our outreach. All the people who wanted to do it, we stopped them.”
According to him, the two problems in the State has to do with cultism and kidnapping.
“So, most of the problems we have here are not more than cultism and kidnapping. These two are the most things that happen.
“But we tamed the cultists. The cultists are also the kidnappers. But for your information, what we have done is no cult man or group are happy that we are here.
“All of them have recoiled into their shells. The kidnappers, even day before yesterday, some kidnappers were arrested. Infact, it’s one of the things I was telling them on radio, that any person who goes into kidnapping will never see next year. So any kidnapper, as far as he is in Cross River is just counting his days. My own promise and the resolve here is that there is no pity for any kidnapper.
“Wherever they go, we go down into the creeks. I told you that we have a very good synergy, the Police Marine, we are working together with the Navy. Going into the creeks with the Army, with the Airforce.
“In fact, I have made some request for drones. When we get that one, anywhere we see the enclave of these criminals, they will leave the place because this area is full of dark forest, highly thick forest.
“But that one will assist us very well and show us where those things are so that we now look for the route to get to the place. The criminels are still hiding. No criminal in the the State is proud enough to come out that he is going to do any criminality. We can record some, maybe skeletal, in some remote areas of the State, but all the local governments, all the areas we have Commanders, they are poised to ensure that the criminals do not come out. In all parameters, we have dominated the environment.”
Asked if there were recoveries made along with arrests, he said “We have lot of recovered firearms, arms and ammunition. You see barely a week when I came here more than 170 ammunition were recovered from somebody who wanted to cross to Cameroon area, we arrested him and the case has been charged to court.
“We have five instances where arms and ammunition were recovered by both the CID. The CID impressed me the other time, they got somebody with two pump action rifles with plenty of ammunition. That one is also a celebrated case it has been reported and by now, it must have gone to court because the man has agreed that this is what is on the ground. Our own Anti-cult is spearheading the recovery of plenty firearms,” he said.
On whether the State Government is cooperating with the Police, he said “Our digital governor is somebody that is very much interested in security. And actually, the first thing he did was to unite almost all the security cheifs in an Operation called, Operation Akpaku, that one linked all of us, even though we have what is called separate performance, but all are there and we are working together in great synergy.
“Every blessed day, that compacted team will go round into the town and if there is anything outside going on, that is how they will either divide themselves or go in all full attack.
Most of the divisions here, actually we have some rickety vehicles, but from my own discussion with him, all of them will be revamped. And the new vehicles he is planning to give us, sincerely, I am still pushing and he will make up his decision.
“So the highest thing we can require from State government is vehicular equipment. The guns, we have enough guns, we have enough ammunition And when we need it, the moment we talk to Headquarters in Abuja, we get it.
“But we will not request for what we already have. That one is not our problem. The only problem nationwide, is manpower. There are many divisions we wanted to open, but considering the manpower we had to wait until this recruitment has started.
“But our good relation with the State Government, we cannot quantify this arrangement. All the local government chairmen are working with our respective DPOs and Area Commanders, and they are really assisting in their own way. At the Headquarters here, we don’t have a complain because there is hardly anything we ask the government that they refuse,” he stated.
Giving his message to the people in the State, he said “Well, to my fellow Cross Riverians, I will have to tell them that let anybody who thinks criminally is their way to keep away because anybody who goes into criminality will regret. We will give security to law-abiding people, who are good citizens, to live in this State and flourish.
“Any criminal who really wants to challenge the authority, who chooses to disturb the people, will not find it easy. Our own synergy with other services is inbuilt at the moment. And sincerely, people who go into criminality will regret.”
He also warned the public not to lynch anybody for whatsoever reason, but report any issue to the Police.
“The issue of people lynching others without allowing the Police to investigate the matter is too bad and any person partaking in that, we will look into it.
“And some people are also venting their anger on Police when something happens, people should keep away from trying to tease the Police or any other security agency’s personnel. It is not civil. Let our people keep away from it,” he added.
He also warned those involved in illegal road blocks to desist from it.
The CP urged investors to patronise the State.
“And for people who wants to invest in Cross River, the land is wide and fertile. Let them come in,” he said.