Femi Ogbonnikan takes a critical look at the exceptional performance of the Rapid Response Squad under the leadership of its Commander, ACP Olatunji Disu, in crime fighting and how it has helped in no small measure reduce violent crimes to the barest minimum
Lagos is unusual in comparisons with other states of the federation. Apart from assuming a mega status, as the second fastest growing economy in Africa and seventh in the world, Lagos State plays host to both national and foreign nationalities that throng the ‘centre of excellence’ on a daily basis, in their thousands, for commercial and industrial activities. In summary, it is the economic hub of the country.
With an estimated population of 21 million, in the latest report, according to the state government, in the post colonial era, Lagos State was created on May 27, 1967, according to the ‘State Creation and transitional provisions decree No. 14 of 1967, which restructured Nigeria into a federation of 12 states, it has the highest Gross Domestic Products (GDP), which houses one of the largest and busiest ports in the African continent.
On account of the premium placed on the thriving commercial, industrial and banking activities, the state government, through the establishment of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring the security of lives of its citizens and investments.
Recently, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, said the state government has spent over N15 billion in 2016 to beef up security and ensure the safety of lives and property.
The governor made the declaration at a dinner held at the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja, in honour of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, who was on a two-day working visit to the state.
He said security, being one of the tripods upon which his administration is built, has improved drastically since he assumed office.
He attributed the development to the sustainability of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), a template, he said has helped to champion funding of security agencies to carry out effective policing across the state.
“Like the IGP said yesterday, the template of which we are using to run the Security Trust Fund is worthy of emulation and he has also averred that they would like to replicate it in other parts of the country and also for men of the Nigeria Police Force,â€ Ambode said.
Recommending the LSSTF model to other states, Ambode said the initiative has gotten serious buy-in by the public, revealing that out of the N15 billion spent on security last year, the private sector contributed over N5 billion.
The governor particularly commended the efforts of former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Musiliu Smith, who is the Chairman of the LSSTF, saying that the model he midwifed in 2007 has changed the face of security in the state.
“That same template that he (Smith) brought to Lagos that we have continued to use in the last 14 years and itâ€™s been working and in different forums, he has shared how he started it and how we have also improved on it.
“For us to be having the private sector, just to give you a very clear example, as at last year, we have spent as a government close to the region of N10 billion, but the private sector has actually contributed more than N5 billion of their own money into the Security Trust Fund.
“There is no way the private sector would do that if they donâ€™t believe in the cause of our Security Trust Fund. So I want to recommend it also to others, it is something that could work in other states. Like you said, funding is a major issue for security in this country and then we can have partnerships with the private and public sector to also help in securing the country,” Ambode noted.
Stressing that security remains fundamental to the development of the nation’s economy, the governor assured that the state government would continue to support the Police and other security agencies.
“We believe strongly that if Lagos is peaceful, there would be life in other parts of the country. I believe the task ahead is greater than the things that you have achieved in just a few months that you have been there and I believe you would make your own mark just like your predecessors,” Ambode said.
Besides, Ambode, when he received the immediate past and the new Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni and Mr. Imohinmi Edgal, respectively in his Alausa Office on Tuesday, September 5, 2017, admonished the new CP to sustain the tempo of the fight against crimes and criminalities in the state.
“What is most important to us I’d emphasised that we must keep the city safe. Lagos must be safer; and Lagos must be cleaner and it is based on that we can invite investors to come in. That is when we can protect our 24/7 economy. And so, we can’t afford not to have a vibrant police force. More importantly is the fact that we, in government, can’t have a prosperous state and the prosperity and peace that Lagos is enjoying now actually founded on that fabric of the security of lives and property,” Ambode said.
In a bid to reinvigorate the Lagos State Police Command, the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), came on stream in 1999 during the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the then governor, as a child of necessity, with a clear mandate to fight crime and make the state habitable for the citizenry and uninhabitable for criminal elements.
With the rebranding on November 27, 2015 and provision of the modern crime fighting equipment, such as 100 (4-door) saloon cars, 55 Ford Ranger pick-up cars, 10 Toyota Landcruiser pick-up vans, three helicopters, two gun boats, 15 Armoured Personnel Carriers, others, all valued at N4.765 billion and complemented with drones and tracking devices, the Squad under the leadership of Mr. Olatunji Disu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), has, since his inception as Commander, in no doubt, with the active support of the personnel, displayed exceptional leadership capability with the requisite capacity to respond swiftly to crime in any part of the state.
While making a giant stride in policing Lagos with vigour, born in Lagos Island to the renowned family of Disu in Rica, Tokunbo Quarters, Olatunji Disu had his
post-primary school education at the prestigious May Flower Junior School, Ikenne, Ogun State under the tutelage of the prominent educationist, Dr Tai Solarin and also his senior secondary education at the Saint Gregory’s College, Lagos Island before proceeding to the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo campus (in 1985) where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in English (education). His quest for a higher qualification saw him enrolling for a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in International Relations and Strategic Studies at the same LASU and subsequently a Diploma in Personnel Protection in the United Kingdom (UK). Disu’s career in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) began when he enlisted into the force on May 18, 1992 and he was admitted at the Nigeria Police Academy, Kaduna Anexxe. Disu’s career progression in the force got a boost with his deployment to Lagos to serve as ADC to the then Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, shortly after which he was posted to Ogun State Police Command as the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in-charge of Ago-Iwoye. On account of his sterling qualities to lead the ever Nigeria Police continent on African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to quell the crisis in the war-torn Darfur in 2005 and returning home with laurels and outstanding commendations earned him various enviable positions which he has held, including his leadership as Officer in-charge of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Ondo State Police Command Headquarters and subsequently, Officer in-charge of the SARS, Oyo and Rivers States Police Command Headquarters respectively, helping to manage on one of the most volatile and politically turbulent states in the country. Soon afterwards, he was elevated to a new rank as an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and he was at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Rivers State Police Command before his transfer to Lagos State Command and subsequent deployment as the Commander in-charge of RRS.
Upon his assumption of office two years, Disu and the RRS personnel have demonstrated competence which has translated in bursting several violent and fraud cases.
For instance, the arrest of the kingpin behind the seven-day kidnap of Veronica Iyabo Anisulowo, Seun Oloketuyi, at Ecovec Royal Hotel, Ojo, Lagos, sometime in April 2016, was a landmark achievement for the squad and is still fresh in memory. Oloketuyi was personally nabbed by Disu at the hotel with the aid of tracking devices while on his trail from Lanlate, Igbo-Ora, Ilero, Shaki, Ogbomosho, all in Oyo State and to Ilorin, Kwara State before he eventually took off and headed to the hotel with a bid to jetting out of the country to Dubai (United Arab Emirate), the following day in his bid to escape from arrest. At a Lagos hospital where he had earlier visited for treatment over an undisclosed ailment, upon his arrival and met an auxiliary female nurse who attended to her, it was gathered, gave her in to the decoy team deployed led by Disu. The lady in question and the kingpin, it was learnt, have been dating and she had cooperated with the decoy team.
“The lady took an Okada to the hotel and they had been conversing on phones, while the Commander and his boys had laid siege on the hotel. As the lady called her and Oloketuyi was disembarking from the staircase, the Commander who pretended to be one of the customers quickly surge towards him and gripped him from behind by his jeans trouser. And that was how the kingpin was nabbed,” hinted a police sergeant that was part of the arrest. Similarly, was the case in which one Blessing Yanyanbin kidnapped a Chinese national in Ikorodu. Another Godwin was arrested in Warri, Delta State in connection with a kidnapping incidence in Iju-Fagba, Lagos. Also, on December 16, 2016, a five-man kidnap syndicate invaded an undisclosed hospital in Lagos Island and kidnapped its medical director and its owner. It took the swift intervention of two armed RRS decoy teams deployed with the aid of tracking devices to locate the victim to a thick bush in Epe, an outskirt of Lagos where the police teams engaged the kidnappers in a heavy shootout. At the end of the ensuing melee, the five kidnappers were mowed down during crossfire, while the victim was rescued unhurt after seven days incommunicado. Others are the unravelling of the murder of a 50-year-old Bureau De Change operator, Mabel Mba Okafor, a resident of 16B, Close 9, Victoria Garden City (VGC), in Ajah, Lagos, on Wednesday, August 17, 2016. For a week, a decoy team was deployed in Bali, Taraba State in trail of the prime suspect, Tanko Abdulateef, 22 years old, and he was apprehended. Two mobile phones of his late boss and several other personal effects were recovered from him. The suspect confessed killing his boss by ripping open his bowel with secateurs.
Other notable achievements include the arrest of several dealers in stolen mobile phones across the state, especially in Ajegunle-Apapa and Ikeja Computer Village, leading to the recovery of cache of stolen phones; the arrest of several armed robbery suspects, one-chance gangs, blackmailers and pick pockets. In terms of bank frauds, several cases bordering on frauds have been cracked by the RRS teams, thus leading to the arrest of several suspects and colluding bank staffers. Some of the prominent cases are: N150 million bank fraud with the arrest of one Israel Ochenhi; Peter Ezerupe; Obeny Udeme; and a Winners Golden Bet fraud amounting to N5 million. Of note, was the recent involvement of the RRS personnel in the raid and subsequent arrest of no fewer than 250 suspected badoo members in Ikorodu who held the entire community by the jugular for over a year.
However, RRS has taken policing beyond the traditional conventional means of crime detection and prevention. It is designed to be the first responder to crisis. It is living up to expectations by averagely getting to crime scenes even before the nearest police formations. The state command is leveraging on new technologies, like drone surveillance phones and social media tracking and Internet fraud at the disposal of the squad to burst many high profile cases.