Magnus Eze, Enugu
Tricycle operators in Enugu state have vowed to continue singing the praises of the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Balarabe Suleiman for issuing stern warning to officers who extort their members as they ply their trade.
They also attributed the commendable achievement in maintaining peace and security in Enugu state to the entrenchment of community policing in the state.
Chairman, Association of Tricycle Transport Union (ATRTU), Enugu State, Comrade Benjamin Ika, who disclosed this in an interview with Daily Sun at a town hall in Enugu, on community-oriented policing, said that channel of communication has been established between their members and the police authorities.
“The extortion of Keke operators by the police has reached an alarming level, even if the rider’s papers were in order, they will ‘pack’ the person and ensure that they delay him. I am happy that the representative of the Commissioner of Police today has assured us that it will not continue. I have also heard from some DPOs and senior police officers who advised that any time we have such incident; we should report it to the most senior officer in the police station. I think that will go a long way in solving the problem and I am confident that what we have done today will bring lasting solution to our problem,” the union leader enthused.
Asked whether Keke operators in Enugu state could really say that the police were their friend, he answered in the affirmative, pointing out that even husband and wife could disagree but at the end of the day; they would always settle and continue to live amicably.
He debunked insinuations in some quarters that some Keke operators were criminals, but instead explained that some criminal elements buy tricycle and operate.
According to him, there was no way any registered Keke operator could indulge in crime because if he moves from Agbani Road to Abakpa, he would be easily identified by another tricycle operator before he could ride two poles.
He insisted that no criminal was in their fold and disclosed that the union in a bid to checkmate such unscrupulous elements was working with the State Ministry of Transport to do data capturing of every commercial tricycle operator in the state.
“There is something going on in the Ministry of Transport by the issuance of rider’s permit. This permit has number; meaning that in the event of any incident, once the number is keyed into the system, it would show the owner of the tricycle; the residential address and everything about him,” he said.
Also, focal person of the Nigeria Policing Programme (NPP), which organised the sensitisation event in the three senatorial districts of the state, Okwudili Amaechi, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, said the essence was for the people to see policing as everybody’s business.
The representative of the Commissioner of police explained that the concept was not novel, though it had not really permeated the nooks and crannies of the country.
He said: “We believe it is the only way we can achieve the change we all want in the system. Community policing is intelligence led policing; so, we don’t need to be begging the people to cooperate with the police. We want them to own the policing business and provide information to the police. By policing here, I mean every security agency. It’s everybody’s business.
“Community policing has been with us but the awareness may not be much, that’s why we’re trying our best to extend the frontiers; getting more people involved.”