Vanguard (Lagos)

9 February 2013

Nigeria: Police/Military Clashes - Defaulters Will Be Punished - AIG Tsafe

Assistant Inspector General of Police, zone 2, comprising Lagos and Ogun states, Mamman Tsafe, is by no means, a police officer per excellence, judging by the dexterity with which he fights crime. Tsafe, who rose from the Nigeria Police ladder, has served the Force in different capacities as Divisional Police Officer, Area Commander and Commissioner of Police. He was the Commissioner of Police Delta state, before he was promoted to the rank of AIG and subsequently deplored to zone 2, to over see Lagos and Ogun police commands, known for peculiarity in criminal activities, judging by the situation of the airport, sea ports and borders. In this interview, Tsafe, spoke on the recent face-off between the Police and Navy, proffering possible solutions that would nip future occurrences in the bud. The unassuming officer, also spoke on the transformational agenda of the Inspector-General of Police, part of which is to ensure that bail, in practical term, is free. Excerpts:

Recently, the newspapers were awash with the clash between Naval Ratings and policemen in Apapa area of Lagos, a situation that can be described as disappointing, especially from law enforcement agents. As the AIG who oversees Lagos and Ogun state commands, what measures are on ground to avoid future occurrence ?

You see, to be sincere, most of the times, you notice this kind of fracas, you notice it emanates mostly from the lower cadre of officers from the various services. But it has never happened in the higher cadre of any of the services because of the understanding among the officers.

There is a kind of comradeship and cordial relationship existing within senior officers. Few days back, the new Flag Officer Commanding the Western Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy paid me a courtesy visit. It is an indication and a kind of attestation that there is honestly a harmonious relationship among the very senior officers. But when we go down to the lower cadre, I think all they need is more sensitization, and enlightenment.

And that is a task we senior officers have to face seriously. There should be joint trainings and interactive avenue where these junior officers can work together. As far as the higher cadre is concerned, there is that mutual and professional understanding.

This is the only way one's profession will be enhanced because no single security agency can boast and say it can do it alone. This is what we want every segment of all security agencies; particularly the junior levels to understand that no single security has the monopoly of the operational execution of security. Therefore, there must be cooperation.

But you see, where this type of hick-up comes in, is when a security agent tries to enforce a law and another security agent from a different outfit tries to disobey it, or is flagrant. It is the responsibility of senior officers to be on their men and ensure they are absolutely civil and obedient to all the civil laws in a democratic setting. The period of impunity and flagrant disobedience has gone.

In a democratic setting, one has to succumb to civil authority and accept it as part and parcel of one. Section 4 of Police act is the product of the consensus of the democracy that involves the police regulations and subsequently, all other act on any other organization emanated from the civil authority without which you will have no instrument under which you can work. So, the work is still on us the senior officers.

The Apapa incident was an unfortunate incident but you have to give credit to the officers who rushed to the scene to save the situation and that is why we did not record any casualty. And, I am very sure decisive action will be taken against all the defaulters from any of the security outfits. When that kind of decisive action is taken, you will definitely be assured that it will deter others from committing same offences.

What decisive action are you taking to serve as a deterrent to others?

You are not within our force. If you are, you will see the procedures going on. You see departmental action, that is where it will be taken to and where you are found guilty, there are procedures to be adopted and defaulters punished accordingly. There are laid down rules and we are not the ones that created them. We met them and they are the instrument we must work with. So, anybody who is found guilty, will be dealt with within the confines of the provisions of our enabling laws. Investigation is on-going.

How would you assess the conduct of your men both in Lagos and Ogun police commands?

I have had a reasonable interaction with police officers on ground, I went round the commands and to the best of my assessment, I will say they have done reasonably well. But then, that is not the end, they still must do better. They must come out and I insist, they must come out so that the people will see them and say that these men are justifying whatever we are putting in them.

We gathered that some policemen mount check points in a bid to hijack the state government's restriction on motorbikes by extorting them. Investigation showed that some of the commercial motorcyclists remit N2000 a week so as to be allowed to ply some routes.

It is very good you are giving me this information. I want to assure you that that case may be an isolated one because I have a team that goes round Lagos to check excesses of policemen. The team headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police moves round and ensures that any policeman arrested will be punished accordingly as the law provides.

I have already given my numbers out for members of the public to contact me wherever they observe this and I assure them I will be there in a very good time to arrest the situation. The number is 08036551517. Anytime you call me , I know who I will call to be there if I can't be there myself.

There is also cases where policemen ask for funds to investigate cases brought to them. For instance, they also, request for money to obtain police report. Is it part of the rules?

Both are unconstitutional. The totality of it is illegality. So, avoid illegality yourself. I have been telling people, don't give because if you do not give, the receiver will not have something to take. It is said that the giver is equally guilty of one or two offenses in the case of bribery.

But , there had been instances where such case will just be there if one does not give money to Investigating Police Officer.

Please take to my advice. Don't give. And if your matter is not treated with the seriousness it deserves, complain to either the Area commander, the CP or even to me, or even to the IG. We have that responsibility to do the work, we are detailed to do it. We are not a revenue generating organization.

We do not have anything to do with money in any way. So please, don't encourage anybody to give. If your matter is ignored because you did not pay, bring up the matter to the next senior man, if he compromises also, go to his area commander. From the Area Commander, go to the CP and from the CP, come to me. When I say you, I mean everyone that is listening and reading this interview. I mean every Nigerian.

We are particularly concerned about the issue of bail which the IG has been hammering on. But in all honesty,the slogan bail is free, in practical term, seem not to be obtainable. What measures have you in place to ensure that bail is indeed free?

We have inscribed it in all police stations and we have said it repeatedly. And we have also , beckoned on senior officers to make sure it is obeyed. So it is the person who ask you that you are not going to give anything for bail. If your offence is bailable, you must insist to be granted bail. Let the policeman know you know your right, having met all bail conditions. There should be resistance from the people themselves because this kind of conspiracy most times, comes from members of the public.

Fighting crime, no doubt, is an onerous task. What are the challenges faced by your zone in meeting up with its constitutional responsibility particularly, in Lagos and Ogun states?

The main challenge presently is the need for more cooperation from members of the public. We are soliciting members of the public to become adequately committed to fighting crime. This is because the business of security is no more the monopoly of a single security outfit. Every Nigerian has a stake in ensuring the security and safety of Nigeria. So, the challenge there is mobilization of members of the public to be involved in security.

The issue of logistics you know, is a very wide issue. We cannot sit down and say until we get everything we want, we won't use what is available. Rather, we should concentrate on utilizing what we have to assist the public. Government is trying to give us what is available. And we cannot say until everything is completely available we will not work,no! It is not done that way, not even in the United States of America.

Recently, Arepo, the IG inaugurated a squad under the leadership of an ACP to check activities of pipeline vandals. The IG screened members of the team personally and handed over to an officer whose integrity I do not doubt.There has therefore, been effective coverage and the result of his action are there in several publications to show. There have been several arrests of the vandals including those living near the pipeline.

Like I said, most of these things are committed by those living close to the pipeline who are supposed to be protecting it. They forget the infrastructure is for Nigeria and should therefore, allow it to work effectively in order for government to be able to distribute the good dividend of what it has planned for Nigerians.

But then, instead of them to allow that, they connive and do damage to it. But I assure you that the team is going to deliver and very soon, you will see its outcome because they are directly under the IG and you can imagine what that means.

How would you describe crime rate in both states?

Crime rate has dropped to a reasonable level of tolerance in the two commands especially when you compare it to other areas. We attribute this to the commitment of some good Nigerians who are living within the territory, who considered the worthiness of synergizing with the police by assisting us with vital information.

2013 will record lesser crimes in these two states,especially with the assurances given by the executive governors of the two states. Lagos state government's commitment to security in the state is laudable. Ogun state government has followed suit by making adequate provisions of needed logistics to combat crime. By the grace of God, I assure you, 2013 will record the lowest crime rates ever witnessed.

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