Imo­himi Ed­gal: Re­brand­ing, bat­tling crime in La­gos

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - OPINION - By Luke Onyekakeyah

UN­EX­PECTED cir­cum­stances re­cently forced me to stray into the ter­rain of Imo­himi Ed­gal, the La­gos State Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice but the ex­pe­ri­ence turned out to be re­ward­ing as I got to know more about the po­lice chief and his work. A typ­i­cal Nige­rian doesn’t be­lieve that there is any­thing good to write about the po­lice based on the ac­tiv­i­ties of some bad eggs within the force. But there are other Nige­ri­ans who see ev­ery­thing good in the po­lice.

I know a very prom­i­nent Nige­rian who speaks well about the po­lice based on his en­counter with some po­lice of­fi­cers on the high­way. This man’s car broke down on the high­way and he was help­less. But some po­lice of­fi­cers came around and as­sisted him to fix the car.

He said he wanted to show ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the of­fi­cers and so of­fered them some money, which they bluntly re­fused to take say­ing that they were do­ing their job. The man was stunned and couldn’t be­lieve it. That, in in­deed, is how the po­lice re­late to the ci­ti­zens in the de­vel­oped so­ci­eties.

Ir­re­spec­tive of what­ever im­pres­sion any­body may have; my po­si­tion is that with­out the po­lice, crim­i­nals would have over­run all of us but the po­lice keep them at bay to en­able us go about our nor­mal daily busi­nesses un­mo­lested.

Ideally, once you have the po­lice around you, you are safe. There are many who would dis­pute this ar­gu­ment based on their ugly ex­pe­ri­ence. But that does not can­cel the po­lice al­to­gether. There are more good po­lice per­son­nel than bad eggs.

A fraud­ster who duped me had turned around to re­port me to the po­lice in­stead of pay­ing back the money. It was as­tound- ing to me. I had no choice than to re­port to a higher au­thor­ity to see to the mat­ter.

That took me to Imo­himi Ed­gal’s of­fice. I had thought that a let­ter writ­ten to the com­mis­sioner would take an age to get a re­sponse but I was to­tally wrong.

Within 24-hours, I re­ceived a call from Imo­himi’s of­fice that my let­ter has been treated and I was re­quired to show up at his of­fice to give more in­for­ma­tion. That I did and the mat­ter is be­ing han­dled ap­pro­pri­ately.

The prompt re­sponse to my let­ter prompted me to prod into Imo­himi Ed­gal. Who is this man who is re­brand­ing the po­lice and at the same time com­bat­ing crime in La­gos?

As I said ear­lier, be­fore now, I had thought that let­ters writ­ten to the po­lice com­mis­sion­ers (CP) or the In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice (IGP) would take don­key years to get a re­sponse if at all there is one. But that im­pres­sion has been erased.

Ex­cept one is a crack and fear­less po­lice of­fi­cer, ready to brace the chal­lenge of fight­ing crim­i­nal­ity in all its ram­i­fi­ca­tions, the thought of be­ing posted to La­gos as the po­lice chief could be fright­en­ing. The spirit must be will­ing to carry the body go and con­front crim­i­nal­ity in La­gos.

The rea­son is not far-fetched. The cos­mopoli­tan na­ture of La­gos has made it the cen­tre of at­trac­tion for all forms of hu­man en­deav­ours - busi­ness, trade, com­merce, in­dus­try, man­u­fac­tur­ing, em­ploy­ment, etc. La­gos is Nige­ria’s Lon­don, New York, Paris, Tokyo, among oth­ers.

Be­ing the com­mer­cial nerve cen­tre of Nige­ria, the good, the bad and the ugly con­verge in La­gos to seek greener pas­ture. Nige­ria’s greener pas­ture, if there is one, is found in La­gos. And so, it is not sur­pris­ing that where the greener pas­ture is found, there you would find all man­ner of hu­man be­ings scram­bling for it.

The teem­ing pop­u­la­tion in La­gos, over 20 mil­lion, is not there by ac­ci­dent. Ev­ery sin­will­ing to co­op­er­ate with the po­lice to gle in­di­vid­ual in La­gos is busy with one acburst crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties in their lo­cal­i­ties. tiv­ity or the other, whether good or bad. This is al­ready pay­ing off.

It is from this an­gle that you find an asFor in­stance, the in­va­sion and de­molisort­ment of crim­i­nals, mis­cre­ants, hood­tion of the scary Badoo evil shrine in Ikolums, thugs, cultists, rit­u­al­ists, thieves, rodu was stun­ning. Mr. Ed­gal, who led the rob­bers both armed and un­armed, pick­op­er­a­tion him­self, left no one in doubt pock­ets, one chance, yahoo-yahoo, fraudthat he is out to stamp out crim­i­nal­ity in sters, crim­i­nal gangs, name it, all La­gos State. op­er­at­ing from dif­fer­ent nooks and cranIn Fe­bru­ary 2018, Ed­gal’s grass­roots part­nies of La­gos, us­ing dif­fer­ent tricks and ner­ship yielded an­other div­i­dend when strate­gies. the po­lice burst about 70 sus­pected

Given the di­ver­sity of crimes, it would recultists in a for­est at Ele­moro in the Ajah quire, as I said ear­lier, a crack po­lice chief axis while they were re­port­edly be­ing inito be able to lead and di­rect the ef­fort to tiated into the Aiye Con­fra­ter­nity. keep the crim­i­nals at bay so that in­no­cent Fur­ther­more, an­other 256 youths in and law-abid­ing ci­ti­zens can go about their Mushin, who had con­sti­tuted them­selves nor­mal daily busi­nesses un­mo­lested by into “ter­ror” gangs were rooted out in a law­less felons. fierce op­er­a­tion launched to sani­tise the

It is, there­fore, not sur­pris­ing that the area. Mushin is no­to­ri­ous as a hot­bed of best among the best po­lice of­fi­cers are crim­i­nal­ity per­pe­trated by hood­lums. Fol­posted to lead the anti-crime bat­tle in Lalow­ing the in­va­sion by Ed­gal’s men, the gos. Mr. Imo­himi, with­out doubt, must be res­i­dents, who hith­erto lived in fear, among the finest in the Nige­ria Po­lice heaved a sigh of re­lief. force, which is why he was de­ployed to LaBe­fore Ed­gal took the ba­ton, kid­nap­ping, gos. which was rare in La­gos, was be­com­ing a

From the mo­ment he was ap­pointed the reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence. Stu­dents in board­ing Act­ing Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice some­time schools were kid­napped in Iko­rodu and in Septem­ber 2017, he left no one in doubt Epe. Mem­bers of the pub­lic were alarmed about his pre­pared­ness to rev­o­lu­tionise that schools had be­come soft tar­get for polic­ing while fight­ing crime. kid­nap­pers. The ar­rest of the no­to­ri­ous

Be­gin­ning from the idea of com­mu­nity kid­nap king­pin, “Evans” cli­maxed Ed­gal’s polic­ing, which the La­gos State Gover­nanti-crime fight­ing. ment em­braced by es­tab­lish­ing the La­gos Ev­i­dently, in the past eight months of Neigh­bour­hood Safety Corps (LNSC), to asEd­gal’s un­wa­ver­ing and un­re­lent­ing sist the po­lice and other se­cu­rity agen­cies stance against crim­i­nal­ity, the po­lice In­with grass­roots in­for­ma­tion and in­tel­litel­li­gence Re­sponse team (IRT), the anti­gent gath­er­ing, Com­mis­sioner Ed­gal bekid­nap­ping squad and other de­tec­tives gan by am­pli­fy­ing the con­cept. have been comb­ing the nooks and cran

He did this by em­bark­ing on fa­mil­iarisa­nies of La­gos State to snuff out kid­nap­tion tours of the var­i­ous lo­cal­i­ties in La­gos pers and sundry crim­i­nals with the re­sult State to hold town hall meet­ings with the that the spate of kid­nap­ping has re­duced. peo­ple. This en­deared him to the peo­ple This is not a mean feat. More sup­port and who, from all in­tents and pur­poses, are en­cour­age­ment are needed for Ed­gal and

his men to pros­e­cute their oner­ous task.

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