By Chioma Okezie-Okeh
Retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, Tunde Ogunsakin has called on Nigerians to embrace the recent community policing campaign launched by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu hinting that it will surely, give rise to the State policing widely sought after.
Condemning the gruesome murder of policemen during the ENDSARS protest, Ogunsakin who is now practicing Law and also the founder of First Security Information Ltd, in this interview insists that no policeman should have waited for instruction from IGP before defending himself as the law supports it.
Recently the IGP recruited thousands of young men under the community policing scheme, do you believe that such will help in the fight against crime and criminality?
Community policing is very essential in fighting crime. The community must partner the police to fight crime. In other climes, if a new person comes into a neighborhood, the people living there knows. We went to UK for an investigation, on getting to the block where his apartment was, a lady told us that he ran away because she confronted him. She asked him what he does and when his response was not satisfactory, she called the police. Before the police came, the guy ran away. It means that everybody that lives in a community is a policeman.
Most of these people will be posted to the community that they hail from. The best way in reducing crime is community policing. State policing will come later but community policing is a prelude to it. Governors should relax; we cannot run away from state policing. If we do community policing, at the end of the day the state policing will come.
Disbanding SARS, was that the right approach to end police brutality and some of the issues raised during the ENDSARS protest?
People were clamouring and even police officers knew that SARS then has gone beyond the real reason why they were created. They were not properly monitored. SARS was created because of rampant robbery all over the place and you needed a department that would do sort of quick response to the issue of robbery. Kidnapping was not trending then. There was wisdom in setting up such unit, they were police officers specially trained to investigate, gather intelligence on where these robbers are. Go to where they are staying and plant insiders amongst them. Do intensive intelligence, and catch these bad guys on the act or where they are hibernating. But the SARS now started sorting out land and family issues. The society too is to blame; someone collected money from you, you go and call SARS. This was the major problem; society is to blame and they too went overboard. When ENDSARS came, government was responsive but the organizers allowed themselves to be hijacked. Killing policemen was so barbaric. Policemen lives too should matter.
Some Nigerians and policemen insist that the number of casualties amongst policemen was high because the IGP failed to order his men to defend themselves during the ENDSARS protest?
No policeman should wait for IGP’s order to use their arms. They don’t need order because they know the rules of engagement, you are being attacked and there is no other way to stop the attack than to use your fire arms. What do you do? This is the rule of engagement. They don’t need IG’s permission because all policemen know the rules of engagement.
What is your retirement package as many policemen argue that the reason why they are desperate to make money while in service is because of the meagre pension that awaits them upon retirement?
Police salary is nothing to write home about and when you look at the pension, they pay you, it’s heartbreaking. If you have information on what others are paid, I think police will be lowest. Government will have to do something to improve what police take away after retirement. I am a lawyer and I have my chambers; I also do security consultancies. You see, everybody that has retired might not have the same opportunity. As an AIG, I collect about N100,000 monthly; in Nigeria of today that does not count for anything. It is still not an excuse to be corrupt. It is not only amongst police; most civil servants are corrupt if they find themselves in a position to collect bribe, but then if they have integrity and character, no matter what you are being paid, you will still not be corrupt. But in a society where people believe that when you are in a position, it is their turn to steal from government, most people in power, if they have their way, they will soil their hands except you are trained from home; especially those from Ekiti, we have integrity. You can go and find out. When we are growing up in Ekiti, if police arrest someone from your house, automatically people will place ban on your family.
Which area should FG focus on to get an enviable police force?
Training, welfare of the men and procuring equipment are key to a standard police force. The information that we gathered was that during the riot, there was nothing available- no water cannon, no tear gas which are needed to disperse rioters. They simply ran away because the stations were not properly fortified. If those policemen were properly trained, equipped and they are adequately insured, they wouldn’t have run away from the police station.