‘Policing Lagos interesting as it’s challenging’

By Alex Olise

Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Sylvester Abiodun Alabi, can fittingly go for a man of peace. Describe him as a diligent Police officer and you’re not far from the truth. Say he is an unrivalled manager of human and material resources, you’re definitely on point.
As the new Commissioner of Police in the state, Alabi has not only emplaced a unique policing stratagem, he has also distinctively galvanized officers and men of the command on intelligence-led community policing model. This has engendered peace and serenity for thriving socio-economic activities in the state.
The workaholic Alabi who says he sleeps for only two hours daily, speaks on his policing model that has earned him commendations from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Inspector-General of Police, IGP Alkali Usman Baba.
He says policing Lagos State requires no rocket science: “just know the evolving crime trend and pattern and put in place the necessary modalities.”  As Commissioner of Police in the past five months plus has been very interesting as well as challenging, he said in an encounter with The Trumpet during which he spoke on  critical issues in policing Lagos State. Excerpts:


Q: You have been in Lagos State for over five months plus now as Commissioner of Police; how has it been like fighting crime in the state?

A: Like you rightly said, I took over on 24th of January this year and in the next couple of days I would have been six months old in Lagos State. My experience; it has been very interesting and challenging. Like I said in my maiden briefing, I said I was going to study the patterns and trends of crime and that will guide me to put in place some strategic plans on how to police Lagos and that is exactly what I did.

I went to the records through our statics and realized that the prevalent crimes in Lagos were cultism, traffic robbery and occasionally, murder cases arising from landing disputes. After studying that, I quickly put in place some certain plans towards reducing traffic robbery to the barest minimum and also to reduce the wave of cultism.

And I think by the grace of God, we have been able to do that in these past five months. Although, we still have some pockets of cultist rivalry clashes but not as prevalent as it was when we came on board. Then the issue of traffic robbery has been reduced drastically, it is almost at zero level now because in the first two months, we used to see on social media about people that we attacked, trying to tell the whole world that we were attacked on traffic but you can bear me witness now that, that doesn’t exist again.

So we have been able to reduce that and we shall continue to do our best to ensure that it doesn’t resurface again. Principally, we have really put in place certain strategies to ensure that traffic robbery is a thing of the past in the state.

Q: Lagos State is a peculiar one  when it comes to crimes and criminality. What has been your greatest challenge so far?

A: Yes, like you rightly said, Lagos is a peculiar state, it is a unique state  that allows a unique way of policing, it is an industrial form of commercial nerve center, it is a kind of mini-Nigeria.

The best way to police Lagos is to get everybody involved and practically gets the various people, the communities involved as a follow up to our policy trust of which of this is community policing; to engage various stakeholders, to partner with us, the Police cannot do the job alone without having collaboration and co-operation with other security agencies.

These are critical stakeholders, so I charged my Area Commanders and DPOs to always be at stakeholders’ meetings every week or fortnightly, so that they can reappraise their work, so that they can listen to information of intelligence from the people.

Let me particularly mention the relevance and importance of the Lagos Neighbourhood Watch, they have been wonderful, they really set plans in policing Lagos State very well by sharing intelligence and relevant information with us.

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Let me also mention the importance and efforts of the DSS in the state for their information and intelligence sharing. The Director has been very wonderful. he is really cooperating with us and we are working together and that has helped us to bring down the crime rate in the state to the barest minimum because of intelligence sharing.

Beyond that, I have been able to galvanize the Rapid Response Squad, to response to distress calls swiftly and our response has now remarkably improved and the DPOs, the officers and men to be sincere,  I want to be frank with you, I want to salute their resilience, their commitment and dedication to duty.

They have been very wonderful with special reference to responses to distress calls because I monitor the command every second through our communication system and that enables me to get abreast of what is going in the state to know if there is any area I need to change my strategy or if there is any area I need to galvanize my men the more so that we can respond adequately to distress calls.

However, we do have problems with logistics but again, it is not peculiar to Lagos State Command alone;  it is all over the country. Logic has always been the problem of the Police.

The Police is poorly equipped and I am sure you are aware of that and that is why kudos should be given to us because even with the tools, the limited tools that the police is given, we have been able to achieve this, you can image if we are well equipped and have the wherewithal and equipment to work with adequately, you would agree with me that we would have done even much better than what you’re seeing.

Talking about logistics, I still have some Divisions with only one patrol vehicle but I still want to appreciate the government of Lagos in that regard because they have been very helpful in terms of provision of vehicles, fuel and motivation for the men occasionally to do their best and that has contributed to the successes we have recorded so far.

But like you said, we have a logistic problem but the leadership of the force have tried their best because recently we received five trucks and vehicles from the IGP to do our job very well. And recently too, the men have been motivated in terms of welfare by the leadership of the Force in such a way that it will bring succor to us.

Q: How has the ban on motorcycle riders affected the rate of crimes and criminality in the state?

A: Honestly, the ban has greatly reduced the rate of crimes in the state. In fact there is a positive correlation between the ban on motorcycle riders and crime in the state; yes, I can attest to that because I have the statistics.

If you recall the interview I had with the Channels TV, I made it clear that some of these criminals masquerading as motorcycle riders are armed robbers, yes, most of them always dispossess their victims of their belongings where they carried them to, some even after their commercial activities with their motorcycles, at night they take to crime.

I can authoritatively tell you that so many of them were arrested with locally made pistols and they have been charged to court accordingly.  Honestly, like I said, there is a positive correlation between the ban on motorcycle riders and crime in the state, the ban has really brought down the crime rate in the state.

So I want to also implore the government to extend the ban to some other local governments particularly, Festac area, Ejigbo and Agege, Kosofe local government- Ketu and Alapere areas, because we are still having some pockets of issue with motorcycle riders in these areas.

It has even been confirmed by the Controller of Immigration when we had our last security meeting with the governor that most of these riders are non-Nigerians, majority of them are from outside the county and that was why we said he too should assist the state by profiling them to know those who here illegally so that they should be deported back to where they are coming from.

Q: So, what is your advice to criminals and would-be criminals in the state?

A: I have said over and over again even when I took over the mantle of leadership of the Police in the state that Lagos is not a hiding place for criminal activities and we have been carrying the war to their dens as a proactive measure, we been doing constant raiding of criminal hideouts and we have been having results to that effect. So my advice to them is to relocate from the state or the long arm of the law will catch up with them.

Q: Is there anything you want to tell us that we didn’t ask?

A: Well, what I want to say is that members of the public through our community policing partnership program have been able to build the confidence and trust in us, but we want to solicit their support the more because there is no other Police than the Nigeria Police Force and they should understand that we are serving them and working for them and we shall continue to do that so that they can have the enabling environment to go about their lawful businesses.

That can only happen if they continue to share information with us, share intelligence with us and that will be treated with utmost confidentiality without betraying any of them and at the end of the day  by the grace of God, Lagos will be very peaceful for all of us to live in.

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