Mr. Wilson Inalegwu is the Police Commissioner in charge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). He is a former deputy commissioner with versed experience in VIP protection. In this interview with News Investigators, the unassuming but highly skilled and intelligent Inalegwu talks about policing Abuja and the satellite towns, crimes within the city and issued strong warnings to criminals to leave Abuja now or face brutal consequence.
Well, because of what is happening in the northeast, people are unnecessarily scared. So what we are trying to do is to have a lot of visibility policing to make sure that people are rest assured in their minds that they are secured. Of course, we have our own share of crime, which is going down. We have cases of house-breaking here and there, 419 which obtaining money under false pretence, people using master keys to open vehicles, we have issue of land racketeering and also traffic issues. These are some of the challenges. And of course we have cases of cattle-rustling. What is our response? We have a lot of visibility policing. We have a lot of intelligence-driven raid operations of criminal’s hideout. We have also tried to get the public to back us by engaging in a lot of sensitisation. We have done a lot of that and so far so good.
One would imagine that the FCT, being the host of the seat of power would be going through some pressure. Do you have some pressure?
There is pressure. Everybody is coming to Abuja. All the internally displaced people, they want to come to Abuja. That is mounting pressure. We also have a lot of protests, people coming from their states to protests. Everybody want to come and have their conferences , summits, party primaries, party campaigns, the Bring Back Our Girls, RATTAWU, just name them. Every day, our hands are full. There is no day passing in Abuja that we don’t have 2-3conferences in hotels. So we have a lot of crowd attracting events. But that keeps us busy and that is what we are employed to do. Policing is like a ministry of trouble, it trouble that keeps the work going. When it comes, we are happy to deal with them.
Talking about political gathering, do you have the thugs / Area Boys Phenomenon in FCT?
Not so much, of course, there are pockets of it in the rural places. There are few cases in rural communities, because of their distance. But what we have done in this situation is to identify them, and we are going after them so that they don’t disturb peaceful conduct of elections. The FCT election is not as turbulent as other places. But that is not to say that we will take things for granted. We have just one election for February 14, National Assembly and Presidential and then we are done. We have only two members of the House and one senator, so all we are doing is to prepare. We have had more than seven meetings of inter-agency committee on elections, and we are strategising. Because we know that we share borders with states like Niger, Nasarawa, Kogi and Kaduna, and with the prevailing security situation, we are doing all our best to ensure that FCT election is violent-free. That’s our target. Actually, we are prepared for the campaigns, we have trained our personnel on crowd control, and we have also been gathering a lot of intelligence in collaboration with other security agencies. Our intelligence Bureau is working round the clock, we are working with local chiefs; we are working with various stakeholders. I think we are on course.
In order word, there is no place for thuggery in FCT elections?
No, because if you have to do thuggery, they may have to transport you all the way from one distant location, and in our borders, that difficult because at every entry point into the FCT, they are properly manned. So once you leave your location to come and commit thuggery here, you will be arrested and may end up in jail. So l advise all our young people to channel their energy to more productive venture and avoid criminality. Thuggery is a crime.
Is it right to say that the VIP protection which has been your area of specialty has helped in minimising crime in FCT?
Well, may be it is an area of comparative advantage because one has worked with a lot of VIPs, we do it on a regular basis, so because of that we seem to have developed higher skill in that area. Of course, VIP protection cannot go without crime protection because the general environment has to be secured for the VIP. So, it is the totality of security protection. VIP protection cannot be successful without the generally secured environment. That is why, for Abuja to be safer our neighbouring states have to be secured.
Do you experience increase in crime rate at the Yuletide season?
Well, God has been on our side, we have a lot of covert operations to stem the rate. We are very proactive, if you go around the shopping malls and around Wuse market, you will see our Canine, the sniff dogs, they are all over. We have a lot of visible patrols, with the totality of measures in place, Abuja is safe.
How safe are the satellite towns in Abuja?
Satellite towns are safe. We have a program for the satellite towns and l just want to warn the home invaders, burglars at night to be very careful, because the strategy we have is water-tight. It will be in their interest to stay off crime or leave Abuja, otherwise they will be caught. We have a different policing plan for satellite towns and we have activated them. So, those who think they can go in group of 10s or 20 robbing from house to house, they have to think twice otherwise the consequences could be very serious. Our determination is to protect every inch of FCT. We are not going to secure the city centre and leave the satellite out. Many of those who work in the city are also living in the satellite towns. So, our protective blanket covers every part of FCT. Those who are found of breaking into people’s houses, going in to violate people in their houses must stop. The strategy we have in place is full-proof.