Home News Commissioner Of Police Mr. Anthony Ogbizi – Nnamdi Kanu’s sureties should tell...

Commissioner Of Police Mr. Anthony Ogbizi – Nnamdi Kanu’s sureties should tell us his whereabouts


The Commissioner of Police in Abia State, Mr. Anthony Ogbizi, tells OGBONNAYA IKOKWU how he confronted the security challenges in the state, including the activities of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, farmers/herdsmen crisis, kidnapping and armed robbery

You were posted to Abia at the peak of the IPOB activities. Can you recall the situation which you met on the ground?

Abia State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Anthony Ogbizi

The Commissioner of Police in Abia State, Mr. Anthony Ogbizi, tells OGBONNAYA IKOKWU how he confronted the security challenges in the state, including the activities of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, farmers/herdsmen crisis, kidnapping and armed robbery

You were posted to Abia at the peak of the IPOB activities. Can you recall the situation which you met on the ground?

I was in the Special Fraud Unity for about one year before I was transferred to the Railway Police Command Headquarters in Lagos. It was from the Railway Command that I was posted to the Abia Command as the Commissioner of Police on September 11, 2017, and I reported here on September 14, 2017. I actually came when the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra were at its peak. The fundamental challenge I met on the ground was the activities of IPOB. I came at a time when there was near collapse of law and order. There were targeted killings, burning of properties, particularly motor vehicles, burning of the police station and killing of police officers. We lost a police officer; an assistant superintendent of police and one other officer was injured in Aba when I came. IPOB members had taken the law into their own hands by engaging the law enforcement agencies violently, using petrol bombs and other offensive weapons. In fact, they were law unto themselves.

Did you have an idea of what you were going to meet in the state when you got your posting?

As a police officer, my fundamental responsibility is the maintenance of law and order. I was aware of IPOB activities in the state. However, the magnitude of my findings on resumption showed that I underestimated the situation that I met on the ground. Notwithstanding the magnitude of the problems, I hit the ground running. We started confronting the problems head-on and with the push from our sister agency, the army, we were able to calm the situation within days.

What specific measures did you put in place to tackle the menace?

Our main task was to deal with the hoodlums who took the law into their own hands by harassing innocent citizens, to the extent of going into stealing, vandalizing public properties and burgling peoples’ shops. Many people were even forced to desert their homes in Afara Ukwu, Umuahia, when they could no longer cope with the activities of IPOB members. We had the problem of people being intimidated and assaulted. There was a total breakdown of law and order with lots of deaths being recorded on a daily basis while properties were either destroyed or stolen. The movement of law-abiding citizens was restricted. So, the task before us was to restore peace and win the confidence of the law-abiding citizens.

Can you recall a major confrontation between your officers and IPOB members?

IPOB had already declared certain places as the Biafra Republic and named a particular community as the headquarters. Nobody dared go there. One of such places happened to be where the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, the Commissioner of Police and other top government officials live. For the police to enter such a place, we had to confront them in places like Afara Ukwu, Ariaria, and Powerline. It even got to a point where they were collecting revenue from the people. In fact, they went ahead to declare the whole of the South-East as Biafra land. So, there was a serious confrontation with them in which we lost a police officer. They were not in any way provoked, but because the police station was just close to Ariaria, the IPOB boys went there on the rampage, looted the offices, killed a police officer and burnt the station.

Did you at any time recover weapons from IPOB members?

We recovered weapons like petrol bomb, rifles, and other weapons. We also recovered their insignias; we got a lot of information concerning the military wing of IPOB that they were training and teaching their members’ military tactics.

Where is Nnamdi Kanu now?

Nnamdi Kanu was charged to court; he still has a case in court. He was granted bail by the court, but we heard that he jumped bail. The sureties, who secured the bail conditions for Nnamdi Kanu, should tell us his whereabouts.

His parents were also not in the palace. As the chief law enforcer in the state, where are they now?

As for Nnamdi Kanu’s parents, they have the right to live anywhere they want. Nobody stopped them from going back to their house, but if they decide to live elsewhere, it is their choice. None of them is in the custody of the police; so, we are not in a position to say where they are.

How have you been handling kidnapping activities in Aba since you came to the state?

The moment we decapitated IPOB, the next challenge we faced was other serious crimes like kidnapping, armed robbery, drug dealings, child trafficking and cultism. What we did was to look at their modes of operation and we designed the strategies to stop those heinous crimes. We redesigned the security architecture of the state. If you move around now, you see nipping points all over. We created and deployed nipping squads to isolated areas were these kidnappers used to operate freely. The Divisional Police Officers, who were not performing, were redeployed and we replaced them with those who were bold and committed to duty. Within the space of three weeks, incidences of kidnappings reduced and lots of arrests were made. Lots of interceptions of child trafficking syndicates were also made. We arrested many robbers and it reduced the robbery incidences to a great level.

Another strategy was that we took the war to the criminals’ hideouts. We developed local intelligence, which means we earned the confidence of the public. I have learnt something and that is once you win the confidence of the public and they know that you are committed and determined to do the right thing, they can help you by giving you information. That strategy has helped us a lot, such that even from my office, I can call a DPO in Aba to move to a scene of an incident because of information was given to us from members of the public.

How did your men unmask the activities of a criminal gang in a three-bedroom flat somewhere in the Ogor Hill area of Aba?

I must thank the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris because he deployed an intelligence response team, and when the operatives came, we added a few trusted local officers to them, particularly those from one division in Aba and the DPO. We also got some officers from our crime squad here included in the IG response squad and they did a marvelous job.

They met heavy fire from the kidnappers, but they overpowered the hoodlums, and in fact, the squads discovered where kidnappers hid their arms in a tank carefully constructed under a car. Over nine notorious kidnap suspects were arrested and the victims, including a 78-year-old man, were rescued. However, the old man died in the hospital because he was denied his drugs for one week.

The Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway used to be a very notorious point and what I did was to deploy a fearless police officer there and we made a shocking discovery there. Most of the kidnappers were living in the midst of the people in the communities. Acting on intelligence, we arrested about seven of them in a forest, while we are still looking for those who escaped. That explains why that area is still calm till today.

Did you undergo any special training on how to tackle certain crimes?

I’ve spent 32 years in the police. My policy is that I must attend to any visitor who comes to me, irrespective of their class. That is how we gather intelligence. I have been AC operations in Delta State. I have been in the investigation (unit). I have been a DPO in the most challenging areas; so, the training and experience gathered over the time are what I am working with. I’m grateful to the IG because often, he brings his wealth of experience to bear by giving us the needed manpower and materials to confront challenging situations at any given time. He sent two units of the mobile police to me at that time, which helped us to beef up the tipping points. The local police officers here know that I will be serious with them if they fail in any operation; thus, they also became serious by following instructions.

How have you been managing the farmers/herdsmen crisis in the state?

The IG has been helpful too; he gave us two units of mobile police officers and directed us on how to deploy them. If I go outside that directive, I will have myself to blame, so I deploy the mobile police officers to the appropriate command. For example, Ohafia Command has a unit and also the Bende Command. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu also constituted the farmers/herdsmen committee, of which I’m the chairman and members of the committee are drawn from the stakeholders — government officials, the military and other security services, the traditional rulers, religious leaders, the farmers and herdsmen and even members of the state House of Assembly. Within the period since I came here, we have held meetings, about six times, with the members of the committee and chairmen of various local government areas. We have spelt out the need to maintain peace and control the movement of cows in the state. We also spelt out the legal implication of people taking the law into their own hands during the time of crisis.

How do you ensure regular training for your officers in the command?

I am conscious of our perception of the public, which is why we do not joke with the training of officers in the command. I commend and encourage those who behaved well and I equally discipline those who misbehave at any time. We hold lectures and training for our officers to encourage them to conduct themselves within the ambit of the law. Just as we do not play with their welfare, we don’t also bat an eyelid when it comes to the discipline of officers.

We had training about human rights and anti-corruption last week. It is about policing in a democracy. The Centre for Civil Society and Justice, an umbrella body of various civil society and human rights groups in the country, organized the training.

The IG wants it to sink into the minds of all of us that we can’t abuse the rights of citizens, extort them, collect bribes from them and citizens are encouraged to report any police officer involved in any of these to the Commissioner of Police.

Source: The Punch


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