It has been tough, hectic and very challenging. I came from Nasarawa as Commissioner of Police. That is a different environment compared to Rivers where you have people from all tribes including foreigners. So you can imagine the challenges.
What has support from the people been like in terms of helping to police the state?
It has been fairly okay but I need more. Some people only show concern when they are involved. For instance, maybe a relation is arrested, this is one instance you get some people calling. You hardly get their calls on criminal matters. People should help us fight crime by calling to give us useful information. I have been receiving information but I want more, it will help the state.
How can the people really assist?
My phone numbers are open, call them. I have never hidden my numbers. They can also call the police numbers, you will get response. You don’t have to show your identity when you call. You can choose to hide your numbers and call our Control Room, tell us about suspicious movements in your area and we will act. You don’t have to wait until they come to your house, when you see them in a neighbour’s house, call the police directly.
How has the state government been supporting your operations?
The governor has been wonderful. He has been providing us with petrol; he is always in town unlike some governors who are never in their states. You can always reach him with information on matters relating to crime.
Let’s look at the battle against oil bunkering. How is the police helping to curb it in the state?
The Joint Task Force (army) are handling it. I think they have a directive to destroy vessels used for bunkering; there is drastic reduction in bunkering activities now in the state. For some time now, I have not received report from my colleague, the Brigade Commander, on activities of illegal bunkers because he shares information on such incident with us the police. So there is reduction in bunkering.
There are Boko Haram attacks in some parts of the country. How best can residents of the state help the police in the state in the face of the attacks?
Information. This is the best way to help security agencies. The residents are not experts in security but if they see anything suspicious, they should tell us before things go wrong. That is the most important role the populace can play. No matter how small, let us know any suspicious movement in your neighbourhood.
For instance, recently, somebody left his bag to go and pray at the mosque in the Town Area of Port Harcourt. Before he came back, people had called us to raise the alarm. Though the man later came to pick his bag before we got there, it was good that residents could act the way they did in the face of the suspicion. This is what we want, give us information.
How are you working to give your command a good image particularly with the battered image the police has all over the country?
I have been doing my best. One thing I don’t condone for any reason is corruption. I have dismissed four policemen since I came. When it comes to the use of excessive force, abuse of human rights and corruption, I don’t take them.
There was an incident involving five of your men at Elenlenwo area where they reportedly beat up a Mobile Policemen for refusing them to take bribe. What is the latest on the issue?
I have sent my report to the Inspector General of Police, IG. An Inspector was involved in that case and I don’t have powers to punish an Inspector by the police regulation. The best thing I could do was to forward my report. I could not punish the others who are within my powers to deal with because it is proper for all of them to appear the same time for necessary action.
What are you doing with kidnappers so far arrested in the state?
We have charged them to court.
Let’s look at some personal issues a little. Why did you join the police? Was it your first love?
As a little boy, I used to go to watch police parade at a police station close to our house, I enjoyed their band. Probably the scenario had some influence in shaping my interest. I know my late mother did not want me to join the police but I had to persuade her, and she finally accepted. It pained me that she did not live to see me graduate from the police training. I also loved the army as a child and I wanted to also join the army. But nature made Police come my way.
How was growing under your parents like?
I was in secondary school when my beloved father passed on. He taught me great moral lessons. For example, he taught me to be contented in life, that whatever is not mine I should not take. I have grown with this all over the years. Whatever I don’t have, I think it is not destined for me, so I forget it.
Let’s hear some pranks you played as a child that earned you daddy’s stroke of the cane.
I used to join some children in the neighbourhood to a stream in the area and my dad did not like it. He would always know when we came back from the way our bodies were white. I had this little uncle who told us then that on our way back we should pick seven stones throw them to our back without looking back, that it would make our parents not to know we went to the stream to bathe. But my dad always knew and flogged me until I had to stop going.
You are a handsome man. What was it like with the opposite sex when you were growing up?
I had problems running away from them. I remember as a young officer, when I was not married, the girls tried hard to be my friend but I kept running away.
Any word for the young ones aspiring to join the police
They should be contented. The problem is that our young men don’t want to work hard yet they want to be rich. You just joined the police and you want to drive a jeep. When I married, I had no bike and I was an officer – three steps. The problem is that right from the college you see some young policemen wanting to live big. They should be contented.