1st April, 2014
Alhaji Adenrele Tasheed Shinaba, Commissioner of Police, Kano State Command, has had varied experience as Commissioner of Police in charge of Counter Terrorism Unit, CTU, Force Headquarters, Abuja; as well as Commissioner of Police in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, and Adamawa State. In this interview with MADUABUCHI NMERIBEH, he identifies rape as the major crime prevalent in the ancient commercial city and vows to do everything possible to fight the ugly trend, as well as control the wave of other crimes and criminal activities in the state
What was your impression about Kano before your arrival?
The impression I had about Kano was that it is a commercial nerve centre; and it has a very large population as well as geographical land mass. I equally knew very well that Kano has the largest number of local government areas in the whole of the federation—that is, 44. That calls for a lot challenges, particularly as it regards to security. It is a place where you have all kinds of business thriving. You also have all shades of character; so, all these make room for a lot of security challenges which the Command has to contend with. That was my impression about Kano and by the time I got in, we started putting a lot of crime-prevention measures in place; and they are keeping us in a very good stead, at least for now.
What have you identified as the major crime being perpetrated in Kano?
Well, I have to tell you that crime is crime and we have been recording feats in our war against criminals and criminal activities in Kano. However, I must tell you that we have less of robbery, but what we have these days are cases of rape and other local crimes; but they are not things that are beyond our control. My management team and I have mapped out strategies on how to tackle these crimes and they are working for us. As for rape, we keep on sensitising members of the public, especially parents, on how best to monitor and handle their children; and not entrusting their children to the care of people they don’t even know. Their children go to school—they need to go and be picking the children from school by themselves, instead of sending people because anybody can hinge on that pretence and pick a child for criminal motives. We keep on sensitising them to know what to do to safeguard their children. Having done this, we also make sure that anybody caught on the issue of rape is adequately prosecuted, to serve as deterrent to others.
Critics have argued that the police are not very much committed in prosecuting criminals. What have you done to strengthen the prosecution section of your Command so as to avoid the trend of parading criminals only to let them off the hook the next minute?
You see, in the administration of justice, there are principal stakeholders—the police, the judiciary and the prisons. Now, most times when we say that a suspect was taken to court by the police and the suspect was released, you cannot just convict somebody, you need to get the ingredients that are necessary for the offence to be proved. You have to prove that offence that you alleged had been committed beyond reasonable doubt. So, the police must do its homework very well, the judiciary must do its homework very well, then there will be no excuse for any criminal to escape justice.
Kano has been part of the Boko Haram targets, though we have not had a major attack recently. How prepared are you to contend with this deadly aspect of social disorder?
We are very much prepared but we keep our strategies close to our chest. We don’t make too much noise as far as our operational tactics are concerned. I reserve that to myself; but by the time we start working, members of the public will realise whatever strategies we are adopting.
How often do you apply intelligence-gathering and community policing strategy?
Well, I am an advocate of intelligence-gathering; I am an advocate of community policing. You can see that the two are very similar because if you consider the number of policemen in the entire country vis-a-vis the population of the country; or by extension if you look at the manpower strength of the police in Kano vis-a-vis the population of Kano, you will agree with me that we cannot do it all alone as police officers. We need the support of members of the public, the support of the community in which we reside. Criminals do not live in the sky, they live among the people; so, we need to get vital information; and we need to get the confidence of the public. They need to see us as partners in progress, they need to have confidence in us to ensure that once information is given to us, we utilise it very well and we get result. And there is what is called feedback, which most times we don’t do. I believe that when we get information, by the time we act, we give feedback to the community, for them to understand that this is what we have been able to do or achieve with that information we got from them. By doing this, members of the public will be encouraged to relate more with the police because they are convinced that whatever information given in confidence is not swept under the carpet.
How do you intend to collaborate with the Hisbah Board?
You see, I don’t know what has happened in the past but on assumption of office, the Hisbah Board has paid a courtesy call on me and expressed their determination to work in conjunction with the police. As far as I am concerned, the Hisbah is part of community policing. They can be very useful in assisting the police or complementing the efforts of the police. You see, when you have such bodies, they are supposed to work under the direction of the police so that they don’t abuse the opportunity given them by the state. For instance, if you have a vigilante group set up in a particular town or a particular local government area, the DPO of that area should have to know all the members and identity of the vigilante group because every society has its fair share of bad eggs. We have had instances where members of vigilante group head criminal gangs. So, that is why the vigilante groups and the Hisbah should be under the police; so that if they are going out on any assignment, they will be in company of policemen who will go with them and control their excesses, so that they don’t apply jungle justice after arresting a suspect. The police will be the one to guide them. So, I think we utilise them to the benefit of the state.
Political activities are gradually building up in Kano. By May, the local government elections will hold, to be followed by general election coming up early next year. How prepared are you to ensure peace and order during these elections?
Well, we are very much prepared for the elections. We are not waiting till May when the Local Government elections will be coming up. We have started sensitising the public not to allow their children to be used as political thugs. Now, we have spoken to the politicians. We have cautioned them on their utterances and behaviour during campaigns. The use of insulting words on opponents will not be allowed. We have had meetings with representatives of all political parties in the state. We have read the riot act to them, that these are the dos and don’ts, so you have to play it according to the rules of the game. As for the press, we have invited owners and managements of local media houses in the state. We have urged them to discourage the use of abusive words that can lead to violence in their media reports. So, everybody has a role to play; we have started on that. As for sister security agencies, we are meeting, we are synergising, and we are having our plans towards attaining a violence-free election.
Men and officers of your Command have continued to lament poor welfare packages particularly accommodation. What are your plans to ensure adequate welfare for policemen in your Command in order to boost their morale for greater results?
Thank you very much for this question. You see, the present police management in the country under the leadership of Alhaji M.D. Abubakar is really performing creditably as far as welfare is concerned. You personally witnessed the demonstration of welfarism in the police today when 613 officers of this Command were promoted and decorated with new ranks. That is part of the morale booster we are talking about; it is part of the welfare package we are talking about. Again, there are lots of houses the Inspector-General of Police is acquiring for police officers so that they can own their own houses at the end of working for 35 years. So, if you know that the service is guaranteeing you such things—while you are in service, you are sending your children to school, and as you retire, you are retiring with your own house––you will work, and that is exactly what we want to achieve. So, it goes beyond mere salary increase. And I must be frank with you, IGP M.D. Abubakar will go down in history as one who has really worked to improve on the welfare of men and officers in terms of laudable programmes he has embarked upon and a lot of things he has put in place to take the Nigeria Police to the next level. I think he has been able to make members of the police proud.
Many believe that bribery and corruption is synonymous with the police. What are you doing to stamp out this culture in the Command?
Well, corruption is not synonymous with the police alone. When we talk about corruption, I want to say with all sense of responsibility that the Nigeria Police is the organisation that brings out its own men who are involved in corrupt practices and imposes punishment on them—in form of dismissal, reduction in rank and the like. And we are the only organisation that publicises what we are doing as far as corruption is concerned. So, we keep on doing what we are doing, which is to ensure that the men are well provided with welfare packages and adequate remuneration that will make them to have no justification to be corrupt. When you send men out for patrols and you provide them with patrol vehicle, fuel, enough arms and ammunition––we even provide them with allowances for their upkeep—what moral justification do they have to stand on the road and be collecting or extorting money from the public? We will not condone it and any policeman caught in such indecent act must face the music. I have spoken to my men: once you are found guilty of corrupt practices, be prepared to quit the service. I am not asking anybody to go get money for me anywhere; all I am asking from all my men is do the job the way it is supposed to be done. So, anybody that goes out and gets himself involved in corrupt practices will surely have himself to be blamed for his actions.
What have you discovered as the challenges of your Command?
Well, when you talk about challenges as regards to the Command, you talk about logistics; I mean the logistics that are needed to carry out operations. Though we have logistics, we still need more to perform better.
How closely have you been working with the state government to tackle this issue of logistics?
I am barely one month old in this Command; and I have met with His Excellency, Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso. I have paid a courtesy call on His Excellency and we have had a number of meetings. Our logistics requirements have been made known to His Excellency; and I must say that this government has done a lot for the Command in the past; and we are still expecting more like Oliver Twist, because when you consider the size of the state we are policing, you will understand that we require a lot of patrol vehicles—to touch every nook and cranny of Kano. You know we have 72 divisions spread across the 44 local government areas that make up the state. We need more vehicles to patrol the state and ensure that residents sleep with their eyes closed. However, with the response we are getting, I am sure the government of the day is really security-conscious.
What message do you have for Kano residents?
My message to residents of Kano State—both indigenes and non-indigenes––is that they should work hand-in-hand with the police and all the security agencies. They should volunteer useful information to the police and they should have the confidence that once this information is passed to the right quarters, their identity will be strictly guarded. And I want to assure them that we are working towards ensuring that people of Kano State sleep with their two eyes closed. And they should always realise that once they call on the police, we will be there on time. We don’t want to give any excuses. I am moving around at night, other senior officers are moving at night; the men are on patrol, everybody is busy working, and that is the only way that we can satisfy the people of Kano State. We want to deliver to the people services that are required. When somebody says armed robbers are in his house, once we get the information, before you know it, we are there with about two, three, four patrol vehicles to take charge and save the lives of residents. That is our target and we are fully prepared to achieve set objectives.