By CHIOMA IGBOKWE
Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 2, Onikan, Lagos State, comprising Lagos and Ogun states Police Commands, Bala Abdulla Hassan, has given insight into the gallantry efforts by security agencies and Ilaro community in Ogun State, which led to the rescue of the former Minister of State for Education, Senator Iyabo Anisulowo. She had been abducted by armed men at Sawonjo in Yewa North Local Government Area of the state.
In an interview with Daily Sun at the weekend, he explained how security agencies were able to secure the release of Senator Anisulowo without paying ransom.
It is hard to believe that she was rescued without paying ransom. How did the security agencies do it?
I received a call from the Commissioner of Police, Ogun State, that there was a major incident and I quickly alerted the Inspector-General of Police about it.
The next day, I mobilised my men and moved over to Ogun State where I met the governor, the state commissioner of police, director of State Security Service (SSS) and brigade commander, who were already on ground. We waited for her husband, who was coming from Ilaro to come and update us.
After commiserating with him, we assured the family that the police and sister agencies would collaborate in ensuring that the senator was rescued and the suspects arrested. We assured the family that with what we did in Ikorodu that led to the rescue of the schoolgirls; this case would not be different.
We mobilised special detectives from Lagos Command, team from Ogun State Command and intelligence officers from Force CID, Abuja.
Having assessed the situation, I had to call the IGP, requesting for extra logistics, especially in the area of helicopters for easy aerial patrol. The IG released two helicopters. Meanwhile, our men were also on ground, conducting the searches with the help of vigilance group in the village and hunters that were mobilised by the state governor. We needed them because they knew the terrains. We started patrolling the area both on air and ground.
The idea was to mount pressure on the kidnappers and it worked because even the former senator confirmed that they could hear the sound of the helicopter from where she was kept. Meanwhile, advanced tracking technology was also used to locate where the kidnappers were making all the calls. Our efforts paid off, as the kidnappers released the senator when it dawned on them that we were closing in on them. So far, we have three suspects in our custody, in addition to other normal arrests that were made. Ogun and Oyo arrested two suspects while the Lagos State Police Command picked the leader of the gang. Most of their informants were also picked up. Investigation is ongoing and at the end of the investigation, all the suspects, including their informants will be arraigned in court.
On behalf of the IGP, I must sincerely commend everyone, especially our detectives from all the security agencies, who slept in the bush for days searching for the senator. The local vigilantes and hunters, who also played major roles by helping us to access the terrain with ease.
From your narration, it is obvious that the community played a major role in the rescue, what does this say about community policing?
This is the beauty of effective policing, because community is highly involved. Before that incident, the state Commissioner of Police held a town hall meeting and all stakeholders were invited in the war against crimes. We extended to the DPOs, who are closer to the community, to continue to organise meetings with leaders of the community up to the grassroots. It will be a continuous process and in so doing, we will know the immediate problem of the community and help the police to drive away social miscreants in their midst. In the case of the former senator, without the local hunters, we would be lost in that forest. No security outfit can function without the help of the community. They are our eyes and ears and by alerting us on time, crime will be curbed in their vicinity. It is all for the good of the community to co-operate with the police.
Your zone seemed to have recorded some breakthrough in the area of crime fighting, especially with the arrest and death of a notorious armed robber, popularly known as TK. How did you do it?
We partnered with the community and other security services. We have published our phone numbers and it’s accessible to the public. You will be amazed at the quality of information that we have gotten and how it assisted us in curbing crime. Like the challenge we have in Ogun State, activities of cultists. A lot of them were arrested and charged to court. The governor offered amnesty to anyone, who will surrender and so many of them came forward to renounce their association with any cult group in Nigeria. They had no choice but to surrender. We also urged parents not to leave everything to the police. They should be interested in knowing the performance of their children by getting across to their schools. Secretly check their bags and know their friends because at the end of the day, the family will be embarrassed when their children are arrested.
Advice to criminals…
The message is very clear; you will be arrested and prosecuted. You may be successful but at the end of the day, such a person will be arrested. There is no hiding place in Zone 2. Know that if you commit crime, you will be arrested and prosecuted.
Another major security challenge that the country is facing at the moment is the activities of Fulani herdsmen. What is your zone doing to avoid any possible clash in the future?
I have sent a letter to all the police commissioners to register all the herdsmen in our zone so that we will know who the genuine ones are. So, in times of trouble, we will know who to go to. We normally organise constant meetings with farmers and herdsmen in the zone to ensure that even if there is a problem, it will be nipped in the bud. There was a case where crops were destroyed, a meeting was convened and the person who was affected was paid compensation immediately. Through such means, we were able to stop any possible crisis. I have instructed the police commissioners and all the stakeholders to ensure that all the parties have constant meeting.