Last week, after the gruesome murder of my younger brother on his way to Benin from my village, I had raised very curious questions about the way of policing and the response one gets from the Nigeria Police.
While we were still negotiating with the kidnappers who made away with two of my uncles having mauled down Suleiman, the Edo State Police Command was parading some fellows on Television as those behind the incident.
In fact, the Edo Police gladly declared that they had apprehended the killers of Suleiman Afegbua and went further to threaten that there was no hiding place for criminals in Edo State. I found the contradiction most worrisome, annoying and utterly nauseating.
I got further confused about the operations of the Nigeria Police in its “effort and determination” to combat crimes and other forms of criminality. I got really worried.
At first, the Edo State Police Public Relations Officer had denied the kidnap of anyone after the incident. He had announced to the world how prompt the Police swung into action when they heard of the incident and in the process, how they were able to rescue my aged uncle, Alhaji Musa Afegbua in the forest.
I just sat in one corner to watch the folly of the Edo Police; in fairness I didn’t know the folly had assumed such a ridiculous level. The fact of the matter was that Alhaji Musa Afegbua was abandoned in the forest when the kidnappers discovered that he had become helpless because of his bad leg which was compounded by the injuries they visited on him.
Rather than continue to drag him on especially on account of his age, they abandoned him thinking he won’t be able to make it out from the forest. By sheer miracle, he was able to crawl to a location in the forest where he encountered a Good Samaritan that later alerted the police.
First, I found it distasteful why the haste to announce to the world that the killers of Suleiman Afegbua had been apprehended when four persons were still being held captive by the kidnappers and negotiation for ransom was still ongoing?
Who does the Edo Police Commissioner want to impress by coming out to make such sweeping remark and declaration that Suleiman’s assailants were already cooling off in police cell when indeed the four persons were still being held? Talking about being strategic now, would it not have been more result driven if the Police Commissioner had kept quiet and conclude the process of apprehending the assailants knowing full well that persons were still being held?
Was it necessary to make such declaration when indeed persons were still guests of the kidnappers? In fact, we had to plead profusely with the kidnappers to spare the lives of the victims because at some point, they became livid with anger over comments of their arrest and the delay in our effort to increase the ransom.
The shortcut to the story was that we paid ransom and my uncles gained their freedom. It was a harrowing experience for them. The few days I stayed in Benin City last week woke me up to the grim reality of growing insecurity in the state.
The new government has since commenced the process of leveraging on the achievements of the previous; but if the new government must succeed in translating its lofty ideas into menu on the table for the people, it must take more than a passing interest in the security architecture of the state.
One of the cardinal incentives of a robust investment environment of any state is the quality of security that would-be investors enjoy whilst doing business.
The Obaseki administration is starting well but it must factor in the issue of security as the nucleus of his multi-faceted blueprints to improve on the quality of life in the state.
He must put the Edo Police Command on its toes. He must show consistent monitoring of their activities in order to decipher the level of commitment.
The present status of the Edo Police is one that is lacking in motivation, commitment and determination to combat crimes and criminalities. When you interrogate people on the streets, they expressed disdain about the police; and greater worry about the parlous state of insecurity in the state. Car snatching has become almost a daily occurrence in Benin City.
Unprovoked killings are on the increase. Kidnapping is on full throttle now and the morale of the policemen is low. On further interrogation, they tell you without inhibition that whenever their colleagues are killed during operations, there is little or nothing that is done to make life better for the families they left behind. So, rather than for them to put in their best, they end up protecting themselves first.
The case of the Police in Edo State is the same elsewhere in the country. Both the Federal Government and the state governments must build and sustain a synergy that will help to provide answers to the growing insecurity in the country.
There is no investment in security that will appear too much. Security is central to every activity of the people and government; and more importantly, it is cheering news when investors have confidence that they are safe in the course of doing business.
The present drive of the Obaseki-led administration which is designed to leverage on the achievements of the Oshiomhole-led administration will provide the people varied opportunities to tap into their talents and potentials for a more robust business climate in the state. Kidnapping, car snatching and killings in whatever form, are anti-investment. It creates a state of anomie and fear.
It kills the drive in those who really want to invest and do business. The Edo Police Command must wake up to its responsibility. Instead of stealing from the people by way of tolls collection at check-points, they should take their jobs more seriously and with equanimity of purpose. They should not only display professionalism in the course of their operations, they should simply stop telling lies or half-truths.
The scenario of parading so-called apprehended assailants when the victims of the kidnap operation were still in the forest with their captors was most troubling. The commissioner didn’t need to display such showmanship. Security business is not showbiz. It is a serious business that requires all the responsibility and professionalism to get it cracking.
You either get your security architecture right or you get it wrong. There are no half measures. There is no middle of the road approach. It is a collective responsibility that requires the participation of all.
Now that Edo State is enjoying continuity in terms of its developmental initiatives, it desires a more vigorous approach to getting its security infrastructure right.
The Edo State government should reach out to well-meaning Edo sons and daughters; convoke a security summit and create a Security Trust Fund that will be run independent of government in order to lend support to the general drive to make Edo safer for her people. We must make Edo State uncomfortable for crimes and criminalities.The time to set up that Security Trust Fund is now. Tomorrow might be too late.