In classical tales, critical moments produce heroes who come to the rescue of a suffering kingdom and such heroes are being adored while annals of the society perpetually recite their sacrifice. The Ikorodu Division which has been suffering from the menace of secret cult attacks and reprisals has finally gotten a hero in the new Lagos State Commissioner, of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu. The new commissioner, who has worked within the territory of Ikorodu and Lagos metropolis for years, has not only resolved to take down cultists in the division, he is making decisive moves and has started demolishing local secret cult bases, cell by cell in Ikorodu.
Those familiar with the famous tactics of the Russian Army during the Second World War and how they recovered Leningrad from the German army occupants, will know that CP Odumosu’s strategy of demolishing local cult cells is a victory plan to restore Ikorodu from paws of cult groups. In an extensive interview with Oriwu Sun Newspaper recently, Odumosu vows to put an end to cult mayhems in Ikorodu Division. In the interview which lasted over an hour in his office, the Commissioner of Police discussed his plans and spoke about other issues in the society.
Q: Stories of your recent activities indicate that you are tackling the cult activities with volt face, can you give us insight into these operations?
A: After carefully observing the security challenges in the society, I realised we have to use a new approach to attain our goals. One of the strategies is to nib attacks in the bud before they escalate to affect law abiding citizens. For example, our recent activities in Ikorodu and the adjoining towns of Ijede, Imota and others have reduced crimes compare to few weeks back, this is due to the new measures and strategies we are adopting.
Our strategy entails constant digging out of the cultists’ hideouts to weaken them. By doing so, we have destabilized some of them and prevented others from striking recently. When we got credible information that Ikorodu cult groups have a link with another cell in Ogudu, our intelligence network unravelled plans by the syndicate cult group to carry out a reprisal attack in Ikorodu. We swiftly moved into action and clamped down on them before they strike.
In that operations, we recovered arms and deadly weapons from the Ogudu groups. I also engaged the local monarchs in my quest to find lasting solution to the evil of cultism. Two days ago, I held extensive meeting with the stakeholders in Ijede and Egbin where we brainstormed over the challenges for over three hours. These steps are critical to our success in riding the axis and entire Ikorodu division from cult crises.
Q: How did you discover these cult hideouts and foil their plans?
A: A thorough analysis of the security challenges presents me with three crucial facts on the security challenges we are facing in Ikorodu, the issues of land grabbers, cultism and money rituals. These issues are interconnected. For instance, the land grabbers empower the cult boys negatively by supplying them ammunitions. After using these weapons, the cult boys engage in killing spree and robbery. You must understand that I am a Yoruba man, and an Ijebu for that matter, Ikorodu is by extension Ijebu and I am deeply concerned about the safety of the town. I launched an intelligence surveillance into the division and gathered that the cult groups in Ikorodu hibernate and initiate people in local shrines.
We gathered that some of the traditional monarchs supports these cult groups and allow their territories to be used as operational cells for the cult boys. Our intel revealed that one of the Obas in the coastal town along Ijede axis is a party to the Aiye cult group who have their headquarters in the Oba’s domain.
Q: Did you confront the Oba about his relationship with the cult group in his kingdom?
A: In our recent meeting with the stakeholders in his area, I told him our findings regarding his support for the cult group. I gave him instances and asked him why he allowed the Aiye cult group to establish a regional headquarters in his kingdom without reporting their activities, if he is not in support of what they are doing.
I used the police as an example, our officers are expected to do their jobs as defined by the law but if a police officer fails to prosecute a crime, it means he is a party to that crime. One of the secret cult groups’ activities centre is very close to his palace and he is quite aware of it. Since the Oba is fully aware of the happenings and activities of the cult group on his land and kept mute, he is giving them support, covertly and overtly.
Q: What other useful findings did your men uncover which are of help to the security situation?
A: My men discovered that the Eiye cult group also has an area-headquarters at Igbo-Ajede in Ijede area. We also discovered that most of the traditional shrines in that area used as cult hubs where cultists initiate new members and hide their weapons. They also meet at the beach for their meetings. I told the Oba and other stakeholders in that area that if these shrines were sacred in the past, they have been desecrated by the cultists.
These miscreants use women to render the shrines impotent by making them to change their sanitary pads there. Over fourteen shrines converted to secret cult dens were discovered and we believe more of such places still exist in those areas.
One of the things I told the Oba and other stakeholders at the meeting was that, they have to find ways to consecrate those shrines or risked being matched on by my men. We have demolished shrines wrongly used before and we will not hesitate to do same in these Ikorodu shrines converted to secret cult hubs. I gave them a matching order to suppress any situation brought under their notice, else they risk being tag an accomplice.
Q: How did you come up with such effective plans just few weeks after you assumed command of the state security activities?
A: Before assuming command as Lagos State Commissioner of Police, I had the privilege of working with former Governors Asiwaju Tinubu, Raji Fashola and now Babajide Sanwo-Olu, except for Ambode’s era when I served in a different state. I have engaged in the Lagos terrain during these regimes and head crucial units like the Lagos Task Force and the Lagos Rapid Response Squad (RRS) as commander. These are highly demanding units I led for years. As a proactive officer, I don’t seat and fold my arms when trouble is fomenting around. I take steps to curb potential crisis before it escalate into fatal scenario.
My vision is that all law abiding citizens should be able to sleep with their eyes closed and should be able to conduct their businesses in peace.
From experience, I understand that one loophole to Ikorodu security is the rivers and I have posted more men to the Owutu area which poses more security risk due to its proximity to river. We will ensure that the riversides are continually heavily guarded. Professionally, my philosophy is, ‘take the war to them before they (criminals) come out of the den’. One must go in before the crime is hatched to prevent collateral damages. Crimes are better curbed before they escalate. In the task force unit, we are trained to be proactive and that is why I wouldn’t wait for the cult boys in Ikorodu to perpetrate crime before reacting, we are taking decisive measures to salvage the situation.
Recently, I interviewed some arrested cult members in Odonguyan, most of them attested to the fact that they have killed people. One of them casually told me that he killed ‘just two’ people, I was wondering the atrocities these harden killers will do if allowed to roam our streets freely.
Q: What is the police doing about the timely release of apprehended cultists, who are soon set free to roam the street?
A: You must understand that we are in a democratic dispensation. In democracy, people are allowed to talk, to express their feeling whether it is good or bad. There are limits to how long we can detain a suspect, we cannot remand a suspect beyond three months and we cannot detain anyone in the cell for more than twenty four hours, we either acquit them or charge them to court. I always advise my men to be friendly with the citizens because they are conscious of their rights under the constitution in a democratic era.
On the issue of releasing the suspected cultists by the police on time, some of the community people, especially the leaders, are to be blame. Some of the community people will come and ask and even lobby for the release of the arrested cultists. Also, there are some lapses on our (the police) part, some of our men conduct indiscrete arrest without proper evidence to prosecute the suspects. In such case, due to lack of proper evidence, we are forced to release the accused.
Q: It’s obvious that your job is a difficult one, what can you say is the most challenging part of your job?
A: I don’t have any insurmountable problem. After my duties as Taskforce Commander and Rapid Response Squad (RRS) commander, I can withstand any challenge. These are the two most daunting tasks in the force and I have surpassed them, the experiences have prepared me for this job as Commissioner of Police.
Q: It has been a custom for police commissioners in the state to pay the Ayangbure of Ikorodu courtesy visits, but we have not seen you in the Oba’s palace since you assumed office. Any reason for that?
A: Actually, we planned to visit Ikorodu last week but movement was changed due to some exigencies. Hopefully, we will visit soon.
Q: How do you find time to unwind in your busy schedule?
A: I’m a workaholic, my responsibilities placed me in a tight schedule that I barely sleep. I can’t sleep more than three hours in a day (his eyes were blood shot), because most part of the night after I closed from work, I still monitor the police radio communication to know what is happening in the field. A busy city like Lagos requires a constant vigilance. One must also be abreast of what the men are doing on the field. My wife is aware of my work schedule and she has decided to allow me do my job in peace.
Q: What is your favourite food?
A: I eat rice often yet, I don’t have favourite food. We were taught in the force to eat light food so as not to fall slumber at duty. That’s why I take rice most times. We were also advised not to have specific favourite food, in fact, they will tell you not to get addicted to your wife’s food. These advice help officers to stay focus and fit.
Q: What can someone do to get on your nerve?
A: Nothing! Nothing! Not even my staff can provoke me. One of the qualities of a good leader is to know how to manage his or her feelings with people. I try to control my emotion when dealing with people.
Q: The recent ban on Okada (motorcycles) and Keke Marwa (tricycles) on major roads is taking effect but the traffic situations in Ikorodu roundabout and Ojubode are not helping matters. What are your men going to do about it?
A: This law banning Okada ban is not new, this present administration only implemented it. The law was promulgated in 2012 where 270 streets in Lagos were affected and many other clauses of the law restrict motorcycle riders in the inner streets from carrying pregnant women, they must not carry cargos/loads, they must not carry more than one person, they must not carry children, they must wear crash elements among others. However, the bike riders on the unaffected roads contravene these laws every time.
However, you must understand that the first duty of the government is protection of lives and properties. Following the Okada and tricycle ban on major roads, the governor is making plans to cushion the effects on the people. The governor is making arrangements to supply minibuses and cabs to ply backstreets before enforcing a total ban on the Okada riders from plying all roads in the state. For now only the restricted streets are affected by the ban.
Q: How will you describe Oriwu Sun Newspaper?
A: Oriwu Sun has set the tone for community journalism in Nigeria. With their quality of production, rich content and experienced reporters, they have set a high standard. More so, I am impressed by the fact that Oriwu Sun newspaper is abiding with the principles of investigative journalism, I have seen how it has refused to be used as a political weapon by politicians. I want to implore the management of Oriwu Sun to keep up with the perseverance, it is not bed of roses for them, I really understand.
Q: The Shagamu Road Police Station is in dire need of patrol vans, some stations in Ikorodu are also in need of patrol vehicles, what can you do to help them?
A: I am fully aware that the Igbogbo Road Police Station has a patrol van. I will look into how we can make arrangement to supply the stations needing patrol vans. Though, the Odogunyan Police Station is not directly under our command, but let’s see what will happen.
Q: The federal government has acceded to the establishment of the community policing, what’s your take on the matter?
A: It is true that the federal government has acceded to community policing and this was a result of many years of agitation for it and we have come to realise that they (the community policing agents) are the eyes of the police in the community and the eyes of the community in the police force.
For now, there is a standing order to recruit eligible men and women into the rank and file of the community police. They should be below the age of forty five year old while those within the age bracket of forty five years and above could be recruited into the cadet. The cadet corps are mostly on voluntary service. Members of the community police who distinguished themselves could be co-opted into the Nigerian police.