The Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police in-charge of Zone 2 Command headquarters, Onikan, Lagos, Alhaji Abdulmajid Ali is poised to ensure that he leaves no stone unturned in taking the fight against violent crime in Lagos and Ogun States to the doorsteps of their perpetrators. In this interview with Femi Ogbonnikan, the AIG assures that the zonal command, with its personnel, is on top of every security challenge that comes its way. Excerpts
There is an assumption that Zone 2 Command has less responsibilities in tackling crime because it supervises two states, Lagos and Ogun. How would you react to this?
We are very busy here and I think, and you have seen it yourself. It is not just easy for us to handle. If you take the two states, Lagos and Ogun together, then you will understand that the security problems we are having here are more than those of any other zonal command in the federation. So, we are very much on ground and we had set up our own proactive measures to tackle most of these crimes and criminalities. We set up a team called Zonal Intervention Squad (ZIS), which is based in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital. So, we are thinking of setting up another one in Lagos. Soon, the ZIS of Lagos State will commence operations. And since the team of Ogun State commenced operations, they have made a lot of arrests. They have recovered more than 26 stolen vehicles. A lot of kidnappers have been arrested. A lot of armed robbers have been arrested. They have recovered arms and ammunition. So, it is something that we will continue to do. I was even involved in visiting Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos state, and he has promised to assist us with patrol vehicles. Already, we have patrol teams on ground to tackle these violent crimes.
On your assumption of office at Zone 2 Command headquarters, you collapsed the Anti-Robbery Squad of the zone and replaced it with Anti-kidnapping team. What informed this development?
It is the anti-kidnapping team we changed into the Zonal Intervention Squad (ZIS), to make them more proactive and responsive, and that is why we call it, “Intervention”. When given information, they can move from Abeokuta to Lagos and those in Lagos can as well move into Ogun State, without having any problem. So, their mode of operation should cover both states.
Why was Abeokuta the first choice of the Zonal Intervention Squad (ZIS), and not Lagos where most of these crimes occur?
No! We had just set up one in Abeokuta, but that of Lagos state will soon be set up and it will be based in Ikorodu. The Abeokuta’s base is to secure the entire Ogun State, while the one in Lagos State will be set up in Ikorodu, in a short while. We are just getting more patrol vehicles and we will kick-off in Ikorodu soon.
Among all major towns and cities in Lagos State, why did you pick Ikorodu for the Zonal Intervention Squad (ZIS)?
Most of our problems in Lagos State are within that axis. You should know what we are talking about. All these kidnapping cases are within that axis. Reports of criminal activities are within that axis and so, particularly through the waterways. We want our officers and men to be alert. All these kidnapping cases are within Ikorodu, Isawo, Ogijo, and other areas in Ogun state that share common boundary with Ikorodu.
Why are kidnapping cases on the increase in Ogun State?
They use areas in Ogun as launch-pad to attack Lagos and go back. But the DPOs and the Ogun State CP are doing their best. The CP of Ogun, Alhaji Ahmed Liyasu has raised up his own patrol teams and they have been going round these black spots. The CP there is very much at alert and that is in conjunction with our Zonal Intervention Squad (ZIS). The same thing with that of Lagos state and they have been doing very well. They have made a lot of arrests. Ogun State is having borders with some areas like Ondo, Oyo and international routes, and we are definitely on top of the situations.
When you were Ogun State CP, you tackled Cultism headlong, but has the trend reduced or not?
Yes! It has gone down, in the sense that we have succeeded in arresting them, telling them to renounce their memberships. Many of them have done that and we gave them blanket cover, in what we call ‘amnesty’, by His Excellency, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, the Governor of Ogun State. And, so many of them have renounced their memberships; Ijebu-Igbo is now calm. We arrested a number of them, with the assistance of the people in Ijebu-Igbo. Ijebu Ode is also calm; Ewekoro inclusive.
The other place we are just looking forward to tackle is Sagamu axis. Sagamu also will soon follow suit, so that they can renounce their memberships. We still have some of them in Ogijo and so, we are looking at it.
Do you have problems with manpower in policing the two states?
It is a general problem, and that was why I decided to send many of the men I have here at the Zonal Command headquarters, to the two commands. Of recent, I transferred over 250 officers and men to Lagos and Ogun states to go and assist in fighting crime there. They were just here doing nothing. So, I said they should let them go there and assist.
Almost on a daily basis, motorists and other road users are being attacked along the ever-busy Long bridge, stretching from Isheri to Magboro, as a result of the ongoing road rehabilitation, what steps have you taken to address this problem?
Everything is under control now. The CP of Ogun State has taken it as a challenge, and I have also put him on his toe to ensure that the place is calm; to put patrol teams on the bridge, to ensure surveillance and monitoring are properly being done along that bridge. And we are succeeding.
What particular type of crime is giving the Zonal Command serious headache?
To be sincere, the two commands are doing very, very well. But you know, crime cannot be totally eradicated, but they can only be reduced. You know, we can’t completely put them off. We still have some pockets of stealing; we can’t say people are not stealing, they are still stealing, but our problem is on the waterfronts, and we have been trying our best to tackle that. To be frank, the situation is under control. Like you know, Lagos is cosmopolitan and there is going to be crime, but it has been reduced drastically. And I will continue to ensure that we maintain that.
What of the collaborative efforts with other sister security agencies? How cordial is it?
It is very good, because of recent, I have started visiting some of the sister agencies. I was with the Naval Western Command, Apapa, Lagos. I visited other Armed Forces. I had visited the Immigration Service to assist us with information on some of these illegal immigrants coming into our areas, and the Navy to assist us in the patrolling waterways; and to make sure that these areas are crime-free in this coming yuletide period