STEPHEN OLUFEMI ONI reports on the efforts of the Kwara State Police Command under new CP Paul Odama to nip kidnapping and other acts of criminality in the bud in the state
When the new Kwara State Commissioner of Police, CP Paul Odama, assumed office on September 9, 2022, he left no one in doubt that a new sheriff was in town, and crimes and criminality in whatever form would not be condoned anywhere in the state under his watch.
It would be recalled that there had been a number of security breaches, particularly kidnapping, armed robbery and cultism, in the state in recent time, though the police, in conjunction with other sister security agencies, hunters and vigilance groups, had always risen effectively to each occasion.
At his maiden press briefing in Ilorin, the state capital, on October 5, 2022, CP Odama did not mince his words when he emphatically declared that he was in the state for serious business and to not only sustain the prevailing peace and tranquillity in the ‘State of Harmony’, but to also work assiduously to improve on what he met on ground.
Level playing field
He said: “I am in Kwara State to work to sustain and even better the already established peace and security in existence in the state, to fight crimes and criminality, enforce all laws within the provisions of the Nigerian constitution and rule of law, to democratically police the state and respect the fundamental rights of the citizens and residents alike, in line with global best policing practices.
“My policing mandate also includes the provision of a level playing field for all political tendencies in Kwara State irrespective of party affiliation, religion or tribe.
As you may all know, the police are apolitical, the people of the state as a whole are our constituency, hence we promise to discharge our duties with clear conscience and fear of God.
“By the same token, I want to use this medium to advise law breakers and criminal elements in the state to change their ways and be law abiding, or pack their bags and baggage and relocate to any state they feel is safe to carry on with their lawless activities. We are prepared to work with both state and non-state security actors to police Kwara State with all available human and material resources to ensure that peace reigns supreme in the state.
“The Command is also ready to advance the community policing mantra of the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Usman
Alkali Baba, for effective community participation in the arduous tasks of emplacement of a crime free society. “I, therefore, want to solicit the cooperation of all and sundry to always make use of our emergency telephone lines already in the public space to report incidents that require police actions within their areas as fast as possible. This would give the Command an opportunity to provide robust service delivery to the people.”
In his avowed determination to fight crimes and criminality, particularly kidnapping, to a standstill in the state, CP Odama met with the Fulani vigilantes and ARDOS (Fulani heads) in the state on Thursday, October 20, 2022, on the need to take the battle to the den of these criminal elements that made the forests their abode, terrorising innocent citizens. In particular, the CP vowed to clear Gaa Osibi and its environs of the notorious kidnappers terrorising residents of that axis.
The Police Public Relations Officer on the state (PPRO), SP Okasanmi Ajayi, in a statement, said: “Kwara State Commissioner of Police CP Paul Odama met with the vigilantes and ARDOS of the Fulani stock today (Thursday, October 20, 2022) at the Kwara State Police Command’s Officers’ Mess, GRA Ilorin, to discuss ways by which the incidences of kidnapping and abductions at the fringes and fast developing areas of the state, including around Ilorin metropolis, could be tackled headlong.
“The meeting was convened to seek the ARDOS’ and Serikis’ inputs into the Command’s security strategies aimed at putting a final stop to the criminal activities in the forests within Kwara State.”
The Commissioner of Police, like he said in his maiden address to the people of the state, reiterated his resolve and readiness to partner with all relevant stakeholders, including state and non-state actors with a view to deploying both kinetic and nonkinetic approaches in ensuring that lives and property of the citizenry are adequately protected.
CP Odama, while addressing the stakeholders, assured them of his Command’s readiness to protect them in their collaborative efforts with the police in the onerous task of ridding the state, particularly the forests, of kidnappers and other criminal elements.
He opined that the activities of these enemies of progress would be permanently nipped in the bud the moment the fight was taken to their hideouts by the police in collaboration with the vigilantes and hunters.
To enhance and make the task placed before the vigilantes seamless and result oriented, the CP disclosed that specially trained and equipped Anti-kidnapping teams have been put in place by the Command to work with them in confronting and smoking out the “monsters, called kidnappers and abductors” in their hideouts.
Not leaving anything to chances, the police boss disclosed that similar interactive sessions between the Command and the larger vigilantes and hunters in the state would soon be convened, where the Fulani vigilantes and the already established vigilance groups in the state would be jointly addressed on the need to harmonise efforts and work together to achieve the desired common goal.
In furtherance of his determination to fight the men of the underworld head-on in the state, CP Odama, who was elated by the assurances of collaboration with the police he got from the vigilance groups, promised the leaders of the vigilance groups that all their fears and concerns regarding safety and encouragement, among other requests, would be discreetly looked into.
The police boss also used the occasion to reassure the citizenry of their safety and protection, adding that as part of efforts to assuage the fears of residents of Alagbado, Gaa Saka and Gaa Osibi areas, he has added another three patrol vehicles to the ones already deployed in the area for a 24-hour patrol of the axis. He, however, admonished the people of those vulnerable areas, and other parts of the state, to cooperate with one another and the police so as to quickly put an end to all security issues in that area and the state at large.
Fulani Chairman’s assurance
In his remarks, the Chairman, Baruteen ARDO, Alhaji Hassan, who led the Fulani from the Baruteen axis of the state, assured the CP of the preparedness of the Fulani vigilantes to assiduously work with the police in permanently nipping in the bud menace of the kidnappers and other criminal elements in the state, while seeking adequate protection for his people in the course of carrying out this onerous responsibility.
In addition, Alhaji Hassan solicited diligent prosecution of any arrested suspect by the vigilantes, abhorring a situation where a suspect that is arrested and handed over to the police is released within days without being diligently prosecuted. He said: “I want to assure the CP of the readiness of the Fulani vigilantes to work with the police to rid the state of criminals.
However, I also request that adequate protection be availed my people, while diligent prosecution of any arrested suspect be assured, as we abhor a situation where a suspect that is arrested and handed over to the police and, within two or three days, the same arrested suspect is back in the village walking confidently and posing a threat to innocent people.”
For his part, Alhaji Ahmed, who is the Chairman of Gaa Allah, another Fulani association, pledged the support of his group to the police arrangement, agreeing that such concerted efforts would permanently remove the stigma placed on Fulani people as the only people committing crimes in the forests. Govt’s appeal
The Special Assistant to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Community Policing, Alhaji Abdulai, appreciated the CP for convening the important meeting and for the efforts of his officers and men, in collaboration with other sister agencies and the locals, in fighting crimes and criminality in the state, urging the them not to rest on their oars, but to keep policing the state with greater vigour and higher commitments.