A new dawn in Imo Police Command


Fredrick Taiwo Lakanu

THE arrival of Fredrick Taiwo Lakanu as the 31st Commissioner of Police (CP) in Imo State three weeks ago marks the beginning of a new dawn in the command.

Upon assumption of duties, CP Lakanu was quick in realising the enormous security challenges facing the state, and having been well prepared, with several years of cognate professional experience acquired in the Force, he demonstrated a clear understanding of what the assignment entails, and wasted no time in embracing it.

Except for the month before his arrival during which his present Deputy (Administration), Dave Akinremi, acted in his stead, the period preceding his assumption of duties witnessed a lot of internal challenges for the state Command, leading to loss of goodwill, erosion of confidence and trust from members of the public due largely to increased corruption, lack of professionalism and motivation.

Hence, having identified these lapses, and in a manner characteristic of a bold, charismatic, pragmatic and visionary leader, Lakanu was prepared to  think progressively different from his immediate substantive predecessor. Consequently, he introduced a number of innovations and embarked on a number of actions that resulted in streams of crime breakthroughs since the last three weeks. These achievements, no doubt, have made the long expected difference in the security situation of the state.

A fellow of the Defense College and an alumnus of University of Leeds, where he earned a Masters degree in Law, CP Lakanu has been introducing policies, strategies and solution-based innovations which are aimed at drastically turning the State Police Force around and regaining public confidence, with the determined effort to rout out all forms of crime and criminality. Prior to his deployment to the state, criminal gangs of all shapes and sizes had transformed Imo into a near-Hobsean state, where life was nasty, short and brutish, as armed robbers, kidnappers, hoodlums of all sorts, ritualists, child traffickers and ‘baby factory’ operators held the state captive, while the Police appeared helpless and the citizens groaned in pain.

There was indeed a general state of confusion, anomie and mass hysteria as Imo state notoriously acquired the reputation of the meeting point of criminal gangs, as those from other states found it conducive to conduct their nefarious activities in the state. This is evident by the number of arrested criminals who confessed to being based in neighbouring states but operated in Imo.

It is therefore under this milieu that the nominee for the award of the best crime fighter in West Africa set out to reassure members of the public that he is not in the state for a tea party. Over the period, Mr. Lakanu has continued to re-assure the people of the state by instilling confidence in the Force’s ability to fulfill its statutory responsibility of protecting lives and property, in addition to driving the reform mandate of the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase.

As a result, the torrents of achievements the action CP has recorded so far within this short space of time have helped to rekindle the hopes of citizens of the state that there is still light at the end of the tunnel.

The forward looking strategies, hands on approach, passion, determination and zeal to truly make a difference, in addition to a mindset that merely ‘mopping the floor’ is not a enough but something really needs to be done to stop the tap, have all helped this rugged Lagosian and Philosophy and Law graduate of University of Lagos to position himself in the minds of Imo citizens that ‘he is the one to come’.

As a result of his doggedness, most of  the  notorious criminals and their accomplices on the Command’s most wanted list who hitherto constituted a nightmare to the peace loving citizens of the state, and consequently, denied them  peace and  restful night sleep, are gradually being rounded up, while peace and calm are also gradually returning to the state. Criminals who had contemplated striking, but mindful of the no-nonsense approach of the new Commissioner have all stayed actions and are probably tinkering with the idea of relocating to other states.

With the apprehension of armed robbers, cultists, kidnappers, child traffickers and the rescue of some kidnap victims, the Command, under the able leadership of the CP has helped to save the state the trauma and unquantifiable loss both in human and material that usually accompany such nefarious activities. Within the period, the Command arrested 17 armed robbery suspects, 9 kidnapping suspects, 8 cultism suspects, 14 child trafficking suspects, 1 person for unlawful possession of firearm and another one for car theft. In addition, 8 kidnap victims were rescued, 5 arms and 7 vehicles were also recovered.

For instance, following qualified intelligence report and with the coordination of CP Lakanu, the Command nabbed an armed robbery syndicate on September 21, 2015, which was fingered in the robbery of one Prince Francis Ogbuji of Ukoromi filling station in Amakohia in Owerri, the state capital, and made away with the sum of 47 million naira. Four members of the dare devil gang were arrested and two vehicles, a Toyota Carina with Reg. no, SPR-872-PB and Nissan wagon, with Reg. no FST-897-DY were recovered.

On the same day, operatives of the Command apprehended another armed robbery syndicate that had terrorised residents of Okigwe for a long time. All the members of the three-man gang were rounded up and a locally made double barrel short gun and a number of live cartridges were recovered.

Also, the Command arrested one Nnamdi Chukwu (m) 21 yrs old at Umuawaka while attempting to steal a green colour KIA Sorrento SUV , with Reg. no. TJ-354-KJA, belonging to one Mrs. Akinlade Mercy of  Umuoba Uratta in Owerri North Local Government Area of the state. The suspect is presently cooling off in Police custody and assisting in investigations.

Similarly, the eagle-eyed members of the Command, following a tip off from members of the public, busted an armed robbery syndicate which specialised in car snatching, at Pine Wood Hotel in Owerri. The operation led to the arrest of one Joseph King ‘m’, aged 26yrs of No. 1 Alfa Akpajio road 1, Eleme, Port Harcourt, Rivers State and seven others. A Toyota corolla car, with Reg. no. EF-964-FST and a Ford Explorer SUV with Reg. no. APP-987-BZ were all recovered.

Also the Command apprehended one Friday Umeibe ‘m’ of Ohafia in Abia state and his accomplice, both year two National Diploma undergraduates in the department of Public Administration of Federal Poly Nekede. The two were arrested for cult related activities on campus. A silent stainless steel pistol was recovered from them.

Following a routine patrol, the Command also arrested one Duru Franklin, ‘m’, aged 21 from Umuezeala Nzerem in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of the state with two locally made double barrel pistols. The suspect is currently being held in custody and undergoing interrogation. The Command also busted a child trafficking syndicate when one Chizoba Nnadogu ‘f’ aged 25years from Umuaka Orlu in Imo state wanted to transact her new born baby with two others for the sum of 750, 000 naira.

Again, on September 9, 2015, Anambra State Command alerted their Imo counterparts of the escape of an armed robbery gang from the state. The Command quickly swung into action and subsequently effected arrest of one Kalu Chidubem ‘f’, 18 years, while two of her accomplices –Emeka Ekwudile ‘m’ and one M.O.J ‘m’ of No. 36 Kenneth Oliseh St. Asaba, Delta state are still at large.

A black infinity SUV vehicle and other items recovered included a pair of camouflage trouser, two walkie-talkie, fake US dollars and one IPAD phone. Several other arrests involving child trafficking, cultism and unlawful possession of firearm, armed robbery, as well as the rescue of kidnapped victims were equally made by the vigilant members of the Command under the watch of the able and indefatigable CP Taiwo Lakanu.

The successes recorded so far by CP Lakanu have been as a result of his visionary and dynamic leadership, the synergy he has built with sister agencies and the cooperation from his subordinates, notable among who are his three Deputies (DCP Dave Akinremi-Administration, DCP Ene Okon-Criminal Investigations and DCP Walter Inyang-Operations), the three Area Commanders of the state, Divisional Police Officers and other officers and men of the Command. Given that Owerri, the state capital constitutes the hub of activities in the state and therefore the focus of criminals, the Area Commander, ACP Francis Bisong, needs to be commended for the Commands’ operational efficiency as well as for his loyalty and commitment to the leadership of CP Lakanu.

It is pertinent to mention that these streams of breakthroughs have been in spite of the capacity deficit of the Command, exemplified by inadequacy in men and material. For instance, the Command is seriously in need of functional operational vehicles, communication equipment like tracking devices to assist in haunting down criminals, especially kidnappers and armed robbers.

Regardless of these deficiencies however, CP Lakanu, who has been enjoying a lot of goodwill from members of the public, has continued to re-assure all law abiding citizens of the state to go about their legitimate businesses without fear of molestation as the Command is determined to deal a crushing blow to crime and criminality in the state, while also appealing for more cooperation on information that may be useful in the arrest and prosecution of criminals.
• Asoluka is a Public Affairs commentator

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