Mr. Abiodun Sylvester Alabi is the current Commissioner of Police in Lagos State. He resumed office in Lagos on January 24, 2022 following his redeployment from the Bauchi State Police Command.
In this interview with NGOZI UWUJARE, the 37th Lagos Police Commissioner speaks on his plan to get rid of crimes and criminal elements in the state.
What would you say your mission is as Commissioner of Police, Lagos State?
I have carved a niche for myself as a highly disciplined, courageous crime fighter, professional and thoroughly bred police officer with a knack for intelligence, investigations, administration and operations. I am totally prepared to fight criminals out of Lagos State. I have my policing vision for Lagos State command which is visibility policing and dominance of security space by ensuring the presence of policemen at all times to deter criminals as a preventive measure. Respect for fundamental human rights by ensuring that no breach of human rights will be tolerated under my command and watch; our men’s conduct while discharging their duties must be in conformity with our professional ethics.
We will strive to build confidence and trust in members of the public particularly with state actors and non-state actors to participate with us, policing the state through intelligence-led community policing which will be all inclusive. I will not be allergic to constructive criticism but will see it as information to rejig our security architecture for our policing strategy. Also, some dedicated lines will be rolled out to members of the public for accessibility and feedback to members of our public. I will strengthen inter-security collaboration and synergy with a robust and healthy relationship with the head of security agencies in Lagos State in the security management of the state. I know every nook and cranny of Lagos State.
Lagos State has its own challenges and peculiarities. How will you handle all that?
I have worked as Second in command to Squadron Commander Mopol 22 Ikeja; Squadron Commander Mopol 43; Diplomatic Protection Squadron, Lagos; Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Lion Building and Divisional Police Officer, (DPO) Ikeja. That was then.
Now, as the Commissioner of Police, my duty is to provide adequate security to the state and make sure that the state is crime-free. We have been partnering with neighbouring states and communities and stakeholders in their various ways to assist the police in their jurisdiction. There are good Nigerians who have assisted the police in their jurisdictions, who gave DPO’s and Area commanders operational vehicles. In the Area Commands, In Area C in the Surulere axis, the House of Representatives Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has been assisting and Hon. Faleke whose jurisdiction was the Ikeja, Ojodu, Pen Cinema axis has been assisting us. They have assisted the DPO and Area Command by providing logistics to the policemen in the areas. We still want other stakeholders to assist the Police Division or Area Command under their jurisdictions to enable us to fight criminals together.
So how will you tackle armed robbery, kidnapping and cultism that are becoming rampant in Lagos State?
It has been about three months since I have been in office. We have not got experience of armed robbery in Lagos State. What we experienced in Lagos State was traffic robbery. The hoodlums robbed victims right in the traffic. They used the advantage to collect valuable items like phones, money, and wrist watches. We received complaints and were able to identify the flash points. The command mapped out strategies immediately. We involved our Neighbourhood Watch, our Tactical Team, RRS personnel including other security agencies. We clamped down on the flash points and arrested over 25 suspects who specialized in traffic robbery along Mile 2 and Alapere, Ketu axis. Also Okokomaiko, Ajah, Lekki. We have reduced the crime rates in that axis. We have not received any complaint from the members of the public in that axis. On the issue of kidnapping, we have not received any complaints of kidnapping except four cases recorded in Isefun in Ogun Boundary. We arrested the suspect. Another kidnapping incident was in the Ajah area where one foreigner was involved when entering a boat and was taken to the kidnappers hideout. And immediately my police tactical team swung into action and rescued the victim. We arrested two suspected kidnappers. We intercepted the kidnappers during their conversation to kidnap one Alhaja at Epe and the three suspects were arrested. On the issue of ritual killing, I have not recorded any ritual killing in Lagos State. I have called my officers to be vigilant over these cases of ritual killings. Ritual killing is rampant in other states. We put our mechanism on ground to make sure such ugly incidents do not occur in Lagos State. On the issue of crime in Lagos State, it has been reduced drastically. Every day we redeploy our tactical team to all the flash points and there is a 24-hour patrol. With other security agencies, we are working together to ensure we flush out hoodlums out of Lagos State. Also, I do go out with my patrol team to make sure all our policemen are on ground. Once, I went on patrol and the officers saw me, we gave moral support to them and they were ready to work both day and night.
There are always allegations of corruption against the police and other law enforcement personnel. How have you been handling How do you tackle corruption among the officers in Lagos State?
When I came on board, my first lecture with officers was to say no to corruption. I encouraged them to imbibe the IGP Usman Baba Aikali’s vision on community policing and applied professionalism in their job. I have the attention of my policemen to build on community policing with the entire public. They should work together with the public who assist them to have vital information when the need arises and it will help them to apply professionalism in their noble job. If any policeman is caught extorting the public, the Police Act is there, we have our internal mechanism. Police force is the best profession in the world. It is a job where you have rules and regulation, and if you obey them, the public will respect you and the job.
Every day, we do lecture our officers and junior officers to work with the public not to terrorise them or victimise or extort them. The public needs them to protect their lives and property. I have also warned my officers against illegal duties. If any officers are caught, such officers will be prosecuted. The sectional head is there, I am talking of the DPOs and the Area Commanders to supervise their men properly so that they will not involve themselves in illegal duties. I will not tolerate any undisciplined officer. I will discipline him and make such officer an example to other officers. I love my police officers. I am like a father to them. I want them to do their job and be ready to serve the public.
There have been complaints about welfare of the police. How are you handling police welfare?
I always give my officers permission to go for their leave. I don’t deny any officer. They must go and rest, when they come back from their leave, it makes them healthy. The present IGP Usman Baba Aikali has made officers to live in good accommodation. There are befitting barracks and accommodation. There has been an increase of salary for our officers. The IGP Usman Baba Aikali has prepared a good welfare package for officers through an insurance scheme. If any policeman dies in service, the insurance scheme will take care of the deceased’s family. All policemen now have life insurance. Even if they die in active service, the family they leave behind will not suffer. Since I came in as Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, I have never lost any of my policemen.
You talked of community [policing. Now, what is the relationship between the police and traditional rulers in the state?
We have a cordial and good relationship with the traditional rulers. They do give us advice and guide us whenever we are doing our job. The good relationship we have with them is both on professional and personal levels. They have been playing a vital role in community policing. They give us information and if there is any crisis, they use their wisdom to settle issues within their community.
The campaign for next year’s election will starts in September, according to the time table released by INEC. How prepared are the police in Lagos State to ensure a peaceful campaign by the political parties?
We started training and re-training of our police officers to enable them to be well equipped and prepare them on how to conduct themselves in public. We have given our policemen orientation on how to manage crises when the need arises during the campaign. We have trained them on how to stop the hoodlums or hooligans not to hijack the campaign ground. Our duties are to protect lives and property. We do put our policemen in a strategic point where we know it is a flash point.
There are operational vehicles and communication gadgets if there is any distress call. We have also advised our politicians to conduct themselves properly during their campaign. They should not indulge in hate speech or in vandalism of government property. We don’t want such things to happen. They must obey the rules and regulations and maintain peace in the state.
What would be your message to Lagos residents?
There is no way we don’t need the support of Lagosians. We need them to always give us information. When they see strange things in their environment, they need to work together with the police. The popular slogan is, “Police is your friend.” My door is open wide to anyone that wants to give us information, so that we can flush out these hoodlums who come from neighbouring states to cause mayhem in Lagos State. The vision of the IGP Usman Baba Aikali is clear on community policing where the public can partner with the police to enable them to achieve the same goal.
Many people claim they didn’t have much information about you prior to your coming to Lagos. Even now, they claim they do not know who the Lagos Commissioner of Police is.
Well, I am Abiodun Sylvester Alabi. I was born on December 31, 1964 at Ilawe-Ekiti, now in Ekiti State. I attended St. John Primary School, Ikere Ekiti, proceeded to Christ School, Ado Ekiti, later went to Ondo State College of Education, Ikere Ekiti. I proceeded to the University of Lagos, Akoka where I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and graduated with a Second Class Upper.
I am also a fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Management. A member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, New York, USA and fellow of the National Defence College (FDC)
I am a well organised and detailed oriented personality with a taste for high standard of performance. The excellence and thirst for more knowledge made me enrol into the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife in 1988 where I obtained my Masters degree in Sociology in 1989. I offered myself in service of this great nation and got enlisted into the Nigeria Police Academy on March 3, 1990. At the completion of the rigorous training for 18 months, I was posted to Abia State Police Command in Osisioma Division, Aba as the Divisional Crime Officer.