Interview

Exclusive: Kwara CP, Egbetokun breaks silence on Tinubu’s connection, 2019 election, greatest challenges, achievements

Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Kayode Egbetokun hails from Erinja Orile, Yewa South Local Government Area of Ogun State. Born on September 4, 1964, he graduated from the University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, Lagos, with Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics in June, 1987, he also bagged his Msc Engineering Analysis and a Certification in Electronic Data Processing and Computer Programming from the same University. He had his PGD Petroleum Economics from Delta State University, Abraka and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Lagos State University, Ojo. He lectured Mathematics briefly at Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos. The Super Cop also had close Protection Course at Dunkeswell Honiton, Chichester, UK and participated in the recent Global Conference in Chemical Security and Emerging Threats at Lyon, France. His police career started on March 3, 1990 as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police. In this interview with AHMED AJIKOBI, he gives insight into security issues in Kwara State and the EndSARS protest. Excerpts:
Your deployment to Kwara State for the 2019 election raised some dusts over allegation of your connection with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. How would you react to this?
I don’t understand why there will be a protest on basis of where I have worked before coming here. I was not the only officer who served as a Chief Security Officer to the then Governor Ahmed Bola Tinubu and will not be the last to serve as CSO to a governor. As I am speaking now people are still serving as CSO to governors, ADC to governors. Where I have worked doesn’t matter. It is the work that I do people should be interested in. They said we would be partisan during the election, but it was very clear that I provided level playing ground for all political parties. My party is Nigeria Police Force. Whether people hold that perception is left for them, I can’t speak for the public. But I don’t hear talks like that again.
Year 2020 is gradually coming to a close, how would you assess the security situation in Kwara State?
There is no crime free society in the world. As at today, going by crime statistics available, Kwara State is still one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria which is not by accident. There are lot of efforts going on to maintain that. The police are working round the clock; we don’t sleep. You see them on the street patrolling; others monitor situation from office. As CP, my phone is on 24/7, I receive distress calls and respond to them as late as 2am while you are sleeping. We have dedicated officers and hardworking men. I think the police deserve to be commended. Members of public should please appreciate police when they see them.
Farmers and herdsmen clashes in Kwara is on the front burner with incidents recorded in Okoolowo, Ganmo, Baala and Eyenkorin, among other communities in recent time in the state. How is your command handling the issue?
There were minor cases where cows strayed into farms and ate farm produce and farmers complained and the matters were resolved. Though some of the cases got violent but it is not as if it is rampant.
Recently, you lost an officer to ATM robbery at Geri Alimi and another police officer was killed at NNPC filling station along Asa Dam road in Ilorin, with huge sum of cash reportedly carted away. How many suspects have so far been arrested in connection with these incidents and where are we on the cases?
The Geri Alimi ATM robbers shot at patrol team and we lost an officer. They came to Ilorin and successfully robbed two ATMs. I vowed that the third attempt would not succeed. All our DPOs and men were mobilised against ATM robbery. We made sure that we frustrate them. That to me is an achievement and officers and men of the command should be commended for that, though we lost one of our men, an inspector to the incident. Since, there has been no ATM robbery in the state.
Has arrest been made in connection to the incident?
Robbery and kidnap suspects have been arrested here, but they committed the offence in another state. I believe the ATM robbers too will be arrested somewhere else soon.
Kidnapping and crime rate appear to be on the rise in the state with recent kidnap of a Director in Ministry of Finance, the Sarkin Hausa and another doctor along ogbomosho road. What is your take on this?
Kidnapping is on the increase in Nigeria, but low in Kwara where you can count cases. We had about five in a year. When I was in Benin we recorded at least four kidnapping cases in Edo State, daily. I remember at that time I was a Squadron Commander and while at a meeting with CP he appreciated officers that number of kidnap cases had dropped to five that particular week. We had five kidnap cases in a year, in Kwara. More so, all the people that were kidnapped in the state have been released.
Why is it that your Command don’t parade suspects as it is often done by Commands in other states?
It is not as if we can’t parade suspect. My own style is different. If we are investigating a robbery case and we have arrested two or three suspects in connection with that case and we have received weapons, parading those suspects out of about seven suspects will not help our investigation and our efforts to track down the remaining suspects. I will only parade suspects if we have concluded investigation and other suspects have been arrested.
The Ilorin/Ogbomoso road has become notorious for armed robbery, what is your Command doing to arrest this situation that has put lives of travellers in danger?
The robbers and kidnappers terrorising travellers on Ilorin/Ogbomoso road have been arrested. We have arrested six of them and other gang members are still at large. We are still after them. The moment they got to know that we have arrested some of them, they fled and there has been peace on that road.
The EndSARS protest in Kwara turned awry with cult groups allegedly cashing on it to perpetrate evil and a dismembered human head was discovered along Post Office penultimate Monday. What is being done by your Command to bring back sanity to the state?
After the last incident, two people were killed; one beheaded and the head dumped on the road. We are clamping down on those cultists. We exercised restraint during the period of #EndSARS protest because if we made arrest at that time, members of the public would turn it against the police. At that time we withdrew our men because the environment was hostile to the police. We had to wait for the situation to become calmer before we now went after those cultists.
What is you view to the EndSARS protest with the call for proscription of the outfit and, what is the assurance that SWAT will not suffer the same fate?
SARS started in the early 90s in Lagos on a very good note. They succeeded in cracking deadly armed robbery gangs in Lagos. Everybody praised SARS, because they were very effective. At that time we had brilliant and courageous men and they were getting result, recording successes. They were dreaded by criminals and loved by law-abiding citizens. After a long time, some bad elements started getting into SARS and that was when the problem of SARS started. We have learnt some lessons from that. IGP is very committed to building a very diligent team of SWAT. It’s not good for us to say SWAT is going to end up like that. Even if is going to be like that, it is going to take time. You know how long it took SARS before it became bad.
During your meeting with the press when you newly assumed office, you warned your officers against acts of indiscipline and misconducts. Has any of your men erred and what disciplinary action was taken against the culprit(s)?
I can’t give you the exact number now but I can tell you that in June this year six policemen were dismissed for various disciplinary offences. Some were demoted and others got various types of punishment for inordinate acts. We don’t tolerate indiscipline by our men. As a result of this, cases of extortion and human right abuse by police have reduced drastically in Kwara.
Most times, criminals arrested by your men and charged to court are acquitted and this is mostly blamed on failure of police to ensure diligence in the area of prosecution. How do you think police, lawyers and judges can collaborate in crime fighting?
Crime fighting is a collective responsibility of every law abiding citizens. We don’t have to leave crime fighting for police alone. Everybody in the society should come together to fight crime. But cases don’t succeed in court because when a case is charged to court it becomes a matter of law. The court will listen to even the accused person and the presentation of the suspect’s lawyer. Some of these cases we lose due to some technicalities, but I think the police are doing well. Take for example, two men of the Command who were dismissed, have been writing and telling lies. These are confirmed bad eggs that we dismissed, and they are fighting back, lying against senior officers in the Command.
Some of your men are of the view that you don’t give them the needed support as their boss, but rather take sides with members of the public on complaints against them even when the complainants are wrong. How would you react to this?
I wouldn’t support wrong complainants made against my men. What am I going to gain doing that? We investigate every allegation levelled against them before taking action. During the #EndSARS protest, there was noise on the media about Officer Friday in Tanke Police Division. I detailed the CIID to investigate all allegations against him. We asked members of the public to come up with evidence of misconduct. Up till this moment, the only evidence produced is a video clip where Officer Friday was among a police team that went to arrest a notorious and wanted suspect. The suspect was traced to a location and on sighting the policemen, he jumped from a storey building, Officer Friday jumped after him. He then ran into a mosque, where he was eventually arrested. Of course the notorious suspect proved stubborn and tried to resist arrest which warranted the use of a degree of force. In the video clip, the degree of force used equalled the offence committed. That was the only evidence of human right abuse levelled against him. Am I going to punish him for that when I even sent him to go and arrest the suspect? Unless I see clear evidence indicting Officer Friday, I will not sacrifice my officer wrongly to please the public.
What can you describe as your greatest achievements so far in office?
Maintaining peace in Kwara State which has remained peaceful and crime rate is low. A number of arrests in connection to robbery and kidnapping have been made. The state is still one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria; that’s a big achievement for me.How do you think the strain between police and citizens can be mended and how best can the battered image of police repaired?
Let me be sincere with you, I don’t know how that can be achieved based on my experience in Kwara State. I believe there exists good relationship between police and Kwarans. The community policing we started, do you know how many people that came out to support us? Just few weeks ago, DPO in Adewole police station invited me to come and commissioned a building that was built by a member of the community for the police. Members of the public regularly donate vehicles to police.
Based on your experience so far and in comparison with other places you have served, what are the major challenges of policing in a state like Kwara and how can it be surmounted?
One thing about Kwara State is that when it comes to issue of security they unite. Almost everybody in Kwara is law abiding. When it comes to security, you will see unity of purpose
What are the challenges of policing in Kwara?
The challenges are the same everywhere. The challenges of police in Kwara state are the same with that of the Nigeria Police Force.
Can you recall your most dramatic day in crime fighting?
It is the issue of the four Turkish national abducted in July, 2019 at Gbugbu village. The story was everywhere in the world. It attracted attention of national media to Kwara at that time and I was under serious pressure. It was a challenging time for me. The people of Kwara united with police to make sure the case was resolved. I was amazed with the support I got from people across tribes, religion; it has never happened before to me.
How do you want to be remembered when you leave the state?
For my fairness to people, honesty and for the successes we have made in crime fighting in the state.

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