5th July, 2012
The Lagos State Police Command has the daunting task of protecting the lives and property of over 15 million people. As a cosmopolitan state with a heavy population and a bustling economy, the police command is faced with all forms of crime and criminality. In this interview with LUCKY LAWAL the Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko speaks on his plans and the challenges facing the Command and the need for the public to cooperate with the police to check crime and criminality in the state.
What are your plans for the Lagos State Police Command?
My plans for the Lagos State Police Command is not different from the plans of the Inspector General of Police which is effective policing and zero tolerance to corruption; we have to change our attitude to work by having a cordial relationship with other security agencies, also, we have to improve on community policing.
How do you hope to curtail the criminal excesses perpetrated by gangs and area boys in Lagos State, especially the NURTW crisis in Mushin and environs which has claimed many lives while property worth millions of naira has been destroyed?
We are not going to check only area boys but all forms of criminality in this area, we are not going to allow criminals to take control of the state, and the NURTW members are not exceptional.
How is the Command coping with the removal of checkpoints from the roads as there have been reports of armed robbers cashing in on the situation on highway?
The IGP has ordered the removal of checkpoints and I would like to reiterate that checkpoints are gone forever. On our part, we have effective patrol on the motorways and snatching of vehicles and other crimes on the highways are pockets of crime we are dealing with. Also we have introduced motorized patrol system and they are working effectively with the RRS to check crime on the highways. Lagos State Governor, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola is very supportive; Police in Lagos have no reason for failure.
What can you say about your men converting exhibit to their personal use and extorting money from the public?
We all know these things are illegal and it is not encouraging. If we recover anything, it’s an exhibit and there’s no reason for it to be used by anybody. If any Policeman is found extorting money from the public, he will be arrested, prosecuted in court and dismissed. I am a confident person, I’m sure no policeman will go to the extent of extorting money from the public.
The condition of Police Barracks in Lagos State is deplorable and need urgent attention; as the CP, what are you doing to ensure that your men live in more hygienic condition?
It is not only accommodation that needs urgent attention as the condition of service generally needs to be urgently considered. We are working with the police hierarchy and the acting IGP to ensure that the barracks are cleaner and better for policemen to live. It will be wise that we maintain the ones we have since we do not have other ones yet.
How would you deal with police officers who display a lackluster attitude towards work, how would tackle the menance of extra judicial killing?
Policemen are not murderers and they have been trained to protect lives and property; and not to destroy them, so it is not true that policemen are killers. Nobody is indispensable to this work, if any police officer goes out his way to do what is not expected of him, he will be moved.
There have been issues of bomb scare in Lagos State; how prepared is the command to tackle terrorism and other violent crimes in the state, especially Okada robbery?
The public should not be bothered as the Lagos State Police Command is mentally and physically prepared. Nobody can come and disrupt the peace of the state as they have been advised to either repent or relocate. Ever since I resumed office as the CP of Lagos State, Okada robbery has reduced. We are not going to reveal our strategies but we are on top of crime in the state.
The Command has stopped parading suspects before journalists; is it that the suspect are outsmarting the Police? If not, what informed this decision?
It is a changing trend, more than 2,000 of our policemen have undergone human rights training and we respect the rights of the suspects as well as the victim, because if you expose the suspect to the public while investigation is still ongoing, then you have contravened the law which states that a person is innocent until proven guilty by a competent law court.
How accessible are you to the public as the number one police officer in Lagos State? Can any one visit your office to complain or call your number?
I am accessible to members of the public, anyone can reach me on this number 08034752664, it is for the general public to use it and call me.