Posted by News Express | 3 May 2018 | 1,361 times
“Avoid Kwara State or turn a new leaf!” That was the stern, one-line verbal warning that Alhaji Aminu Saleh Pai handed to criminals operating in Kwara State moments after he took charge as Commissioner of the State Police Command. From the testimony of his colleagues, the commissioner’s warning is an article of faith on which anyone can hang their hat on. If this be so, then bad times are truly here for criminals in Kwara State.
Indeed, those who deployed the hard-nosed crime-buster to Kwara State had good reasons for the choice. As a matter of fact, the commissioner of police literarily hit the ground running when he took charge on April 20. Within hours of assuming office, for instance, Saleh-Pai applied stop-gap security strategies in identified hot-spots across the state, to complement the presence of uniformed policemen and women. The idea was to ensure prompt response to distress calls.
As a means of staying a step or two ahead of criminals, the security architecture of the state is being overhauled. A new and more effective in-house re-orientation programme has also been introduced, as a way of motivating officers and men of the state police command, to give their best in protecting the citizenry. What is more, personnel reorganisation as a way of widening the reach of the state command is now a matter of routine.
To this extent, the ComPol has served notice on officers and men to be prepared to be juggled at regular intervals as a way of ensuring more police presence across the state. So far, most part of the state now witness 24-hour police patrol, while the comatose Police Community Committees have been revived to add bite to community policing.
Since assumption of office and during his tour of police formations, the police commissioner continues to remind officers and men of the command of the high standards expected of today’s policemen and women by the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim K Idris. As things stand, the police commissioner has opened direct consultations with relevant stakeholders in the state, in a bid to strengthen police capacity to discharge their responsibilities effectively.
There is scant surprise that Saleh-Pai is aware that his plans will come to naught, without the active support of the citizenry. To this extent, he has expressed the wish to engage community and religious leaders as well as other stakeholders on regular basis. At a recent session with journalists, the police commissioner said the command is being repositioned to stem the tide of communal clashes, armed robbery and banditry, as well as checking the activities of political thugs.
These, indeed, are trying times for Kwara State, a situation that underscores the need for a hugely experienced and intelligent police officer in the mould of Saleh-Pai to take charge of the command. For a largely peaceful and peace-loving state, it is a matter of concern that elections in Kwara have remained do-or-die affairs, during which armed, red-eyed and reefer-reeking thugs perpetrate evil at the behest of their patrons. If truth be told, these are disharmonious times for the famed State of Harmony.
It is not a matter of fortuity that the new ComPol was deployed to Kwara two weeks after a bloody robbery incident in Offa. On April 5, some 30 dare-devil youths who were armed to the hilt invaded Offa, the state’s second city, and killed innocent civilians and policemen before they shot their way into nearby banks where some bank customers were killed. The April 5 bloodbath was the second in recent times.
Observers believe that busting the robbery and bringing its perpetrators to book ranked high on the briefs given to the police commissioner. But, equally important is the overall security of the state, especially with crucial elections just months away. So far, it is to the credit of the new police commissioner that key suspects linked to the Offa robbery and their patrons have been arrested. What is even more reassuring is the police commissioner’s vow that what happened at Offa on April 5 will not be allowed to repeat itself in any part of the state.
At the end of the day, what will stand Police Commissioner Saleh-Pai in good stead is the experience he is bringing to bear on his assignment in Kwara State. At various times, he has served, among others, as Force Communication Officer at Force Headquarters, Abuja before he served as Deputy Commissioner of Police in such ‘difficult’ states as Niger, Kano, and Ekiti. His last post was Commandant of Police College, Kaduna.
Politics is here and, with it comes the dirty dealings and bloodbath in election times of which Kwara State is notorious. How the new police commissioner reins in the politicians and check the excesses of the thugs on their payrolls will determine how far he goes in his avowed mission to ensure people of Kwara State sleep with their two eyes closed. Ultimately, it will also determine how well or otherwise he executes the Office of Commissioner of Police.
It must have come as a pleasant surprise to residents that, barely nine months to the 2019 general elections, an atmosphere of calm and amity pervades the state. If the situation holds - Saleh-Pai says his men and officers have no reason to drop their guards - it may not be too long before citizens begin to enjoy the luxury of sleeping with both eyes closed.
•Abdulrazaq Magaji lives in Abuja. He can be reached on email@example.com
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