By Augustine Ehikioya
Against other methods of policing, the Commissioner of Police for Rivers State, CP Eboka Friday, has declared that pro – active policing is the best way to fight crime.
The approach involves thinking out of the box, getting necessary information from stakeholders and nipping a crime in the bud before it takes place.
Speaking with Security Watch Africa (SWA) in an exclusive interview in his office in Port Harcourt, he said, he has been interfacing with different groups in the State and maintaining open door policy in order to prevent crimes from happening.
He said “Yes, that is best approach to crime prevention. I like discussing, and when they go home, they drop their bad ideas.
“The people of Rivers State are wonderful. When I came on board, I maintained an open door policy, they easily come to me, we dialogue and discuss.
“That has yielded positive results because we don’t lack information. We make sure we protect their identity.
“I don’t raise shoulders, I mix with them as if we are equals because we are all human beings. That has helped us a lot,” he added.
Speaking on some of the pro – active steps he took that led to arrest of suspects, he said “Recently, we had some information that some people from Bayelsa and Delta State were planning to come to Rivers State to attack ATMs and other financial houses.
“We got the information and waited for them. We arrested the 8 of them last week. They are now with us. There are other achievements we have made, even at a stage when I came, I realized that our waterways, these kidnappers and cultists were there, a lot.
“So, working on information, we were able to arrest four of them, and rescued 8 of the victims. Since that time, no more robberies along our Waterways.
“One of those Kingpins owns a boat. He will just load passengers and along the line, he will just signal his boys to come and kidnap them. The man was arrested. Since then, we have had little peace along that Waterways,” he said.
According to him, Rivers State is one of the safest place to be as crime rate has been reduced drastically.
“Rivers State is one of the best places to live in now. Crime has been brought to the lowest level as compared with when I came here initially, when we had cases of kidnapping here and there, cultism.
“But now all those things have gone to the background. Rivers State is one of the most peaceful State in Nigeria.”
He also revealed that Operation Restore Peace has helped to fight crime in the State.
“It has helped us a lot, for instance, we used those men in Andoni. As we speak, all the cultists in that community have agreed to lay down their arms.
“This month, they are going to surrender their arms to us. Since we started this over three months now, nothing has happened in that community. Nobody has been kidnapped, nobody has been killed.”
On other achievements under his tenure, he said “In Rumuji, vehicles, before now, were attacked and people kidnapped. We were able to police that area very well and ensure that that thing has come to a halt.
“Besides, cultism in Umudiaga was at the peak, but now it is down. We were able to arrest all the cultists. Ogoniland too, we now have peace. Even in Omoku, we were able to mediate between warring parties. So we have been tackling the issues as they come.”
Reeling out statistics of arrests and recoveries, he said “Since we took over, we have been able to arrest 60 cultists, also we have arrested 30 armed robbers and 20 kidnappers. Other suspects, we arrested 10.
“We prosecuted 2 kidnapped suspects, we prosecuted 10 armed robbery suspects. We recovered 40 arms and also recovered 16 vehicles so far.
“We have foiled 4 kidnapping incidents and 5 armed robbery incidents foiled. We have recovered 9 magazines, 12,400 ammunitions,” the CP stated.
He also disclosed that additional security arrangement was made for foreign construction workers in the State to prevent their abduction.
“Yes, we arrange security for everybody. We give them special protection too. Some of them are Germans and we need to protect them specially because boys like to kidnap foreigners to make more money. We give them special protection, in addition to what we give every person.”
On how he relates with the various groups in the State, he said “The strategy I am adopting since assumption is just neutrality and I remain professional in whatever I do.
“If you bring any case before me, I look at that case by its merit. I don’t want to know the party you belong to. And by so doing, I have gained the confidence of major parties in the State.
“So that is my strategy, I don’t hobnob with any person. I come to my office and just do my work.”
Police officials in the State, he said, must perform or be redeployed from their positions.
He said “I post Policemen according to ability to perform. I don’t post you because you are from the same State with me or somebody recommends you. I will look at you and what you can do. I put round peg in round hole.
“And onces the person misbehaves, I don’t hesitate, I will put another person to work. That has made them to sit up. I don’t put any pressure on them. If you do your work, you are with me. If you don’t do your work, you are out the next day.
“And they are working, they know that if they mess up, they will leave. I treat all of them as my children. I don’t have any special candidate. As you are doing your work, you are my special candidate,” the CP added.
On his message to people in the State at Yuletide, he said “Normally as December is approaching like this, crime will start rising. But what we did in October and November, and we now realized as we are getting to December the crime is not rising because we took a lot of proactive measures.
“But we want to appreciate the good people of Rivers State and for all they have been doing. They have been cooperating with us, they have been giving us useful information. I want to appreciate them and to urge them to continue and if there is anything, they should let us know.”
Speaking to criminals in the State, he said “From what is happening to other criminals, criminals don’t need to be told, they should leave the State.
“They are leaving gradually because if you compare last year and this year, Rivers State has moved ahead.”
He described the administration of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, administration as a blessing to Nigeria.
“Since the IGP took over, there is calm everywhere in this country. You see, there is stability. His charisma is second to none. He has a lot of ideas. He was once in Rivers State and helped to restore peace.
“His own ideas are superb. The man is a blessing to the Nigeria Police Force and to Nigeria in general,” he said.