Barely two months after his assumption of duty, the Commissioner of Police Nasarawa state Police Command, Mr. Bola E. Longe, spoke with The AUTHORITY correspondent in Lafia, Francis Nansak, about his Command’s resolve and determination to flush out criminals from the state.
What is your Command doing to reduce the rising incident of kidnapping and robbery along Keffi – Akwanga road?
When we noticed the increase in the rate of kidnapping along Keffi,Garaku,Gudi and Akwanga roads, we moved to those roads, and we speak, we have identified six points from where those criminal elements come into the roads to harass road users, and in the process kidnap some of them. We quickly constructed a template, and comprehensively posted police personnel in those six places. And since we did that, no single report of kidnapping has been reported again. Therefore, I disagree with you that kidnapping is taking place there on a daily basis. No kidnapping has taken place along Keffit/Akwanga road in the last two weeks.
Has the Command arrested any suspected kidnapper on that road?
To be frank with you, we are yet to make any arrest of suspected kidnappers on that road in particular. But with the template we have put in place, if any of the kidnappers venture into that road, and with the way things are constituted now, we’ll get them arrested, and they will be decisively dealt with as provided by the law.
In the past one month, some suspected criminals have carried out several operations in Akwanga, Nasarawa and Toto areas, and in one of their operations, a bank official was reportedly killed. What is your Command doing to bring sanity in those areas?
We do not have in our record such unfortunate information. I think what you have said is half truth. However, on January 8 this year, that was six days after my assumption of office in Nasarawa state as the Police Commissioner, I heard that that axis was noted for kidnapping and robbery, and I immediately mobilised operational personnel of the Command including the deputy commissioner in charge of operations and other relevant top officers of the Command, and we went to that area where kidnapping, robbery and other crimes are known to have been taking place.
We went to Nasarawa,Gadabuke,Toto and up to Abaji roads, and we identified five spots and effectively deployed our officers on those roads in combination and with the collaboration of hunters and vigilante. And based on our records which cannot be falsified, I am glad to tell you that no single robbery or kidnapping have been recorded in Nasarawa,Gadabuke and Abaji road again.
The overseer of Gadabuke Development Area has even paid us a Thank-you-visit, as according to him, traders of farm produce along that road who had earlier fled the areas going by the increased rate of harassment from the criminals before my commissionership in the state have started returning back to sell their produce to commuters on that road. In fact, if you go to those areas now, you will discover that the volume of traffic has significantly increased on those roads due to the proactive security measures we have put in place.
Talking about community policing, what strategies has the Command adopted to fight crime and criminality in the communities?
I have said it before and I will repeat it that modern day policing is community-based. The Nasarawa State Police Command has about 4,552 police personnel, and for a big state like Nasarawa state, if we don’t have good-spirited community members, it will be a bit difficult for us as police men to launch an onslaught against criminal elements. And because of this, we have been meeting with market men and women, the hunters, tipper drivers, the vigilante personnel, as well as meetings with members of the Police Community Relations Committee. And we are not leaving behind the traditional and religious leaders in these meetings.
They have been availing us with information on the activities of criminals in their areas, and by this effective cooperation from the communities, we would be able to discover the antics of the criminals, as crime is not committed in isolation. I can tell you that criminals use some weak members of any community to plan their operations, and go to isolated places to execute them.
Therefore, members of the public are easier to be used for intelligence gathering, as they may have information on those criminals around them. We need the partnership of the public to be able to dislodge and disconnect the network of criminal elements from the state which we have gradually been able to dismantle.
I want you to know that on 18th of January, together with my operational team, we went to Nasarawa,Mararaba Udege and Loko axis only to discover that the area has a lot of undulating hills where these criminals hide, and later come out to kidnap people. But upon our discovery, we have our template on ground there too, which is yielding positive results,as some of the kidnappers have been arrested.
And in Lafiya,Ashege along Shendam road, we have its own template there too, which in a very short while we shall be moving to areas as Awe,Obi and Keana for the same purpose of ensuring that criminals flee from those communities. Mind you, we cannot at the same time put out all our strategies because the criminals who are bent on outweighing us are studying our plans. We have come to discover that the criminals are professionally inclined, just as the police and other security agencies are professionally trained. The difference between us and them is that we have the support of the larger society, and better equipped than them.
We observed that there has been low crime rate in the night. What is responsible for this development?
It is because we have been constantly patrolling and engaging in strategic deployment of our men. When criminals know that they will be arrested, they will never carry out their enterprise, and we are ready to hinder them in a strategic manner, and also send them packing as Nasarawa state is not for criminals, but for law abiding citizens, and for peace and development.
Are you planning to continue with the issue of recovering arms in the possession of some individuals which your predecessor started?
We have our intelligence unit that have been working on information gathering with intense commitment towards achieving that goal, and the only way to get such information is through the cooperation of members of the community. They are expected to give us information on those in possession of what arms and using it for what purpose.
Nevertheless, the command if you would recall, has not been having reports of skirmishes of violence and clashes from herdsmen and farmers since I took over office two months now. But I will use this opportunity to appeal to those who are illegally in possession of fire arms to surrender them to the security agencies willingly for the avoidance of ugly and severe consequences which might follow if discovered by the police.
Like I keep saying, let’s help the Nasarawa state government to attract investors, rather than make the state a hub for criminals. I believe Nasarawa state deserves peace and development, and we should complement the efforts of the governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, who has been very concerned about the peace and development of his people and the state in general.