Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos Command, Ngozi Briades spoke to our correspondent STEPHEN AYA. In the interview she reveals that at the moment Lagos is one of the safest cities in the country, that lack of information from the public is the major bane of crime fighting in the state and how the notorious criminal Godogodo was nabbed late last year among other salient issues. Excerpts…
Can we meet you Ma?
Yes my name is Ngozi Braide; I am the Police Public Relations Officer Lagos State.
Since you took over this office, what has the work load been like?
The office is packed with a lot of activities; the major responsibility here is that of managing the image of the Nigerian Police Force as an organization, so there are a lot of things that are attached to it. You talk to the press; you make sure you educate the public about the Police force and its role in fighting crime in our society and also giving security advice to the people. We have a public complain office here where members of the public who have complains bring them and we take such complains, look into them , investigate them and then give advice based on our findings. We deliver lectures too on police work whenever we are call on to do so, trying as much as possible to bridge the gap between the police and the public.The work load here is much and we thank God that we are doing our best.
Which crime would you say is the most prevalent or common in Lagos state at te moment?
There is no crime that is common, you cannot put your hand down and say this crime is common, crime is crime.
What is the present stateof the case concerning the Lebanese employer who recently beat-up his pregnant Nigerian employee leading to her having a miscarriage?
The case was reported to Area F and it actually took five (5) days before the complainant brought it to our notice. So along the line the commissioner heard of the case and ordered that the case be transferred to the state headquarters, and there he set up a committeeheaded by the deputy commissioner of police in charge of administration to look into the matter. The man was arrested and he made his statement and later he was granted bail, so the case is still under investigation, the key witnesses were not around, when we got to the company to get them they were not around as they have all travelled for Christmas. Even the doctor who handled the medical aspect of ithas not been around. We could not reach any of them so the case is still under investigation
Can you give us a detailed account of what led to the demolition ofabout 500 buildings in a few localities in Badagryarea of Lagos State by men of the Nigeria Police Force?
Well it was just a case of us taken possession of what belonged to us. The land belongs to the police and there is no dispute about it, as we have the entire document to show for it. We acquired that land sometimes ago with that of Idimu. Sometimes last year the president came and commissioned that of Idimu. We now decided to move over to theBadagry site to develop it only to discover that people have encroached on the land. So what we did that day was to take our land because we want to move in, the presence of police there will also benefit the people of that locality as well.
But what about the people who bought the land?
Bought which land? It is our land and we have the documents to show for it, besides that the people were warned enough. When we noticed that people were encroaching into the land we did warn them but they did not take toour warnings. They did not take usserious.
But what about those that had receipts of purchase of the land, if they come to the police with that and point out those who sold the land to them, will the police prosecute the sellers?
Of cause the police will arrest such people and prosecute them for stealing because the land does not belong to them, not to talk of selling it to someone else.
Armed robbery as a crime is on the rise in Lagos state, why do you think such is happening?
First of all, let me tell you that armed robbery is not on the rise in Lagos State, rather it is on a low scale, and in fact it has been going down. This is because of our ability to respond swiftly to emergence calls. If you put on a distress call to the police in Lagos State, the respond is fast except you waited for the criminals to go before calling us, in that case you cannot blame the police. I can beat my chest and tell you that under the current leadership of CP Umaru Manko if you put up a distress call surely you will see policemen, patrol van and in most cases both on ground. So I totally disagree with you on that. The population of Lagos State is about 17million people and Lagos is a cosmopolitan city you don’t expect it to be totally crime free. Even in develop countries you still find crime there. The most important thing is what happens after this crime is committed. If you know how many armed robbery suspects we have arrested last year leading to this year, some of them will carry out their act in other states and come to Lagos to hide only to be arrested, for example the armed robbers that raided a bank in Ilorin, Kwara State were arrested here in Lagos last week. So we are hard on these robbers now in Lagos, you know about “Godogodo”, reputed to be the greatest armed robber of our time, he has been on the wanted list of the police for over a decade, a terror to South Western states of this nation, he was apprehended by our men toward the end of last year, even kidnappers, we have arrested many in the road leading to this year, some weeks back there was an attack on a bullion van and our men responded and dealt with the situation, our men also recently responded to an attack on an ATM somewhere around Ayobo area and dealt with that situation as well, but lost some officers this time. So you can’t totally take away crime in any developed society.
In August or September 2013, shortly after about 40 alleged Boko haram members were arrested in a raid within Lagos ,the Commissioner of Police, pledged that it would be a routine activity,what is the latest in the war against Boko Haram in Lagos even though the activities of the dreaded Islamic sect is not prevalent in the state?
Let me correct one thing and that is that there is no Boko Haram in Lagos State. Those that were arrested were criminals and Illegal immigrants those that fall in that status we have handed them over to the immigration people to handle while the criminals amongst them have been charge to court.
Our checks at the homicide department in Panti show that there are several cases yet to be concluded with principal suspects still at large,what is the police command doing in this regard?
The police is working very hard in this regard, you must know that some cases take up to ten years to solve at the same time some can be solve within days. By solve here I mean getting all the evidence you need to prosecute a case in court.And let me let you know that about all the suspects on the run, we are after them and we will get them except maybe later investigation prove otherwise, if not the police in Lagos State are always making sure that investigations are concluded before closing a case.
2015 may still be far away, but we know that the police high command is making long term plans to make the polls (elections) hitch free or in this case crime free. Can you let us into some of these plans as it concerns Lagos State?
Well we have our own plans to make sure that the state is well secured, just as we did during the yuletide period and all went well so also do we hope that all will be well in 2014 as the year leading to the election in 2015. I cannot begin to tell you or give you our security plans for this year or 2015,but let me say we are putting thingsin order so as to make things work well for this year and in 2015.
What will you say is the greatest challenge facing the Lagos State police command at the moment?
The challenge facing us now is the criminals. You know that these criminals are not aliens. They are our brothers, sisters, relations. That is where the challenge is because some people don’t want to expose them. But we need to expose them because that is the right thing to do, if we don’t expose them then how is the war against crime going to be won? So that is it. Another challenge is the lack of information. Weneed people to give information to the police. The police cannot fight this war on crime alone. We need the support of the people to do that, talking to police officers, giving out relevant information that will lead to getting these criminals. If we can get this done then I can say that we are winning this war on crime.
What are the new means; acts or devices used by criminal in Lagos State?
Yes you know recently we discovered this new pattern of snatching vehicles. Some forms of commotion is created by these criminals and when you come out of your car then they will either use their guns or whatever weapons at hand to dislodge you of your car. Another is when they call you and prove how much they know you then,they threaten tokill you if you don’t pay them. So they use that to get money from people. This is not forgetting the normal style of telling you that they have a contract from PHCN and the person is coming from Abuja soon and that theyneed the money. Another thing that is worrying is the rising level of rape. Just some weeks ago we got a report about four (4) fathers who raped their female children. This case was investigated but lack of witness to take them to court is holding the matter for now, and the mother of these girls are the once begging because these men are their husband and bread winners in the house. This is not only wicked, it is barbaric and shows sign of loss of moral value.
Can you list some of the achievements of the Lagos State police command under the present leadership?
We are beating our chest, however we want to thank God that there was not a single robbery incident last year that we did not foil except the one in which the police had no information about. Also last year we arrested Godogodo a notorious criminal on the wanted list for a long time. We also arrested one Tochukwu who is the distributor of arms in West Africa in Warri, with large store of weapons recovered from him, we also arrested the leader of the gang of robbers that robbed the bureau de change at the airport, we had earlier arrested members of the gang. We also got the gang of kidnapers who kidnaped a local government Chairman on their way back from Ghana ,because when they got the ransom money they ran to Ghana with the hope that everything will have died down by the time they got back, but we got them somewhere around Badagrywhile they were entering the country again. This is just in a nutshell part of our achievements in 2013.
What is your advice for criminals in Lagos?
We have made Lagos very hot for criminals so my advice to criminals in Lagos State is that they should quit the life of crime, or we will get them sooner than they think.
Your final words of advice for the law abiding people of Lagos State?
Please keep being the law abiding citizens that you are and if you suspect anybody or movement then let the police know as soon as possible.
Thank you very much ma for your time.
Thank you too for having me