The fear of reprisal and backlash is what holds many Nigerians from offering assistance to the Nigeria Police and other security agencies. This is truer for intelligence and information gathering. Otherwise no crime or vice happens outside our local communities.
This forms the background for the Commissioner of Police in Lagos Command, CP Sylvester Abiodun Alabi when he addressed the issue at the National Association of Online Security News Publishers (NAOSNP) Annual Conference and Award which held at the Civic Center, Victoria Island, Lagos on Wednesday 21st September, 2022.
The conference which was organized by the umbrella body of journalists and publishers reporting security, safety, and other allied beats was themed ‘CRIME PREVENTION AND INTELLIGENCE GATHERING: INSTITUTIONALIZING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION, TECHNOLOGY AND WAY FORWARD’. It was set against the backdrop of the all-important support that security agencies in Nigeria require to work and succeed.
Speaking at the glamorous event, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos, CP Sylvester Abiodun Alabi solicited citizens’ support to make the business of policing less laborious. He said: ‘Policing is everybody’s business. The grassroots people know who is who as police can’t be everywhere and that is why we rely on them in all our ungoverned places to assist the police to police those areas by sharing information and intelligence. Any information or intelligence reports given to the police would be treated with the utmost confidentiality. Gone are those days people’s identities were revealed. Nobody does that again and when you do that, it becomes counter-productive and we wouldn’t benefit from it. We encourage people to give us information and intelligence.’
‘One of our policy thrust is intelligence community policing and to effectively do that, we must involve the citizens. They must be galvanised to support the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies to ensure the security of lives and properties.
The community must be involved and that is why we are growing community partnership and community engagement through regular meetings with Divisional Police Officers and Area Commanders since the police can’t do it alone. Such an interface enhances intelligence and information sharing. It is when we are able to galvanise them to work with us, we can rest assured that our community is safe and secured. We can’t work in isolation from members of the community.’
The Lagos CP who bagged the NAOSNP Police Commissioner of the Year Award also used the opportunity to address the issue of bribery as he warned Nigerians to desist from offering bribes to police officers. He noted that those involved in the practice are perpetuating corruption and should also be held culpable. ‘It takes two to tango. It is not a case of Police collecting bribe, what about you that is giving the bribe, we should accuse you also. A lot of them commit crime and believe that with money, they can get their way. I have said it for the umpteenth time stop giving Police bribe, you are the ones encouraging Police to take.’
On bails, CP Alabi reiterated: ‘The issue of administrative bail is that it is free. Nobody can force you to part with your money. If any IPO says he wants money, go and report him to his boss, he has a supervisor but we are always quick to castigate the Police. We always look at it from the point of view of the Police but not the members of the public who are willing to part with their money.’
In his keynote at the conference, the Head of Security, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Chuks Maha lend his voice to the issue of community support for Police. He explained that it was unfortunate that most crimes that happened within our environment are not caught by our eyes due to carelessness or lack of interest about things that happen within our surrounding or environment. As a result, he observed, it becomes impossible to regurgitate what happened to give the exact reports to the security agencies as a witness that would assist them in their investigation.
Mr. Maha implored the citizens to leverage the use of their eyes to observe, detect crime, have a mental picture of the scene, individuals involved, and what they wear, and report or give exact information to the security agents. He then commended the Nigerian Police for carrying out their task physically without too much technological assistance, he called on Nigerians to imbibe the power of observation – using their eyes – in crime prevention.
The former CP of Lagos, AIG Hakeem Olusegun Odumosu (retd) also gave a nod to CP Alabi’s call. In his contribution, the former AIG Operations (Police Headquarters) noted that it is the role of every member of the Nigerian society to assist the security agencies with prompt intelligence, he admonished that everything shouldn’t be left in the hands of the security agencies.
The ‘retired but not tired’ AIG Odumosu emphasized: ‘Members of the public need to give information to security agencies for them to work better and more proactive. We need to sensitize them so that they can key into the security architecture of the country. Intelligence gathering is a thing every Nigerian must take as a challenge.’
The well-attended conference had other awardees including Major General Ike Nwachukwu (retd), Former Minister of External Affairs who bagged NAOSNP Lifetime Achievement award; Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu who bagged NAOSNP Champion of Security of the year; Board Member of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF)/Chairman of Executive Trainers Limited, Dr. Ayo Ogunsan who bagged NAOSNP Man of the year; NSCDC Commandant Eweka Okoro – Lagos State Command who bagged NAOSNP State Commandant of the year; LSSTF Executive Secretary/CEO, Dr. Abdurrazaq Balogun who bagged NAOSNP Public Service Leadership Award; Chairman/CEO, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote who bagged NAOSNP Champion of Security of the decade; Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta who bagged NAOSNP Iconic Man of the year; and Corps Commander Olusegun Ogungbemide – Sector Commander, FRSC Lagos Sector Commander, who won NAOSNP Sector Commander of the year; DC Operations of Enugu State Command, DCP Akinbayo .O. Olasoji who bagged NAOSNP Deputy Commissioner of Police of the year; Mr. Michael Enyinnaya, Principal Partner of Country Hill Attorney & Solicitors who bagged NAOSNP Legal Personality of the year; Group Head, Current and Public Affairs, TVC, Mr. Babajide Kolade-Otitoju who bagged NAOSNP Security Analyst of the decade as well as Prince (Dr.) Ifalade Oyekan – GM, LNSA, NAOSNP Security Agency Personality of the year among others.