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 astounding 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 single individual in Lagos is busy with one activity or the other, whether good or bad.It is from this angle that you find an assortment of criminals, miscreants, hoodlums, thugs, cultists, ritualists, thieves, robbers both armed and unarmed, pickpockets, one chance, yahoo-yahoo, fraudsters, criminal gangs, name it, all operating from different nooks and crannies of Lagos, using different tricks and strategies.
Given the diversity of crimes, it would require, as I said earlier, a crack police chief to be able to lead and direct the effort to keep the criminals at bay so that innocent and law-abiding citizens can go about their normal daily businesses unmolested by lawless felons. It is, therefore, not surprising that the best among the best police officers are posted to lead the anti-crime battle in Lagos. Mr. Imohimi, without doubt, must be among the finest in the Nigeria Police force, which is why he was deployed to Lagos.
From the moment he was appointed the Acting Commissioner of Police sometime in September 2017, he left no one in doubt about his preparedness to revolutionise policing while fighting crime. Beginning from the idea of community policing, which the Lagos State Government embraced by establishing the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC), to assist the police and other security agencies with grassroots information and intelligent gathering, Commissioner Edgal began by amplifying the concept.
He did this by embarking on familiarisation tours of the various localities in Lagos State to hold town hall meetings with the people. This endeared him to the people who, from all intents and purposes, are willing to cooperate with the police to burst criminal activities in their localities. This is already paying off.
For instance, the invasion and demolition of the scary Badoo evil shrine in Ikorodu was stunning. Mr. Edgal, who led the operation himself, left no one in doubt that he is out to stamp out criminality in Lagos State.
In February 2018, Edgal’s grassroots partnership yielded another dividend when the police burst about 70 suspected cultists in a forest at Elemoro in the Ajah axis while they were reportedly being initiated into the Aiye Confraternity.
Furthermore, another 256 youths in Mushin, who had constituted themselves into “terror” gangs were rooted out in a fierce operation launched to sanitise the area. Mushin is notorious as a hotbed of criminality perpetrated by hoodlums. Following the invasion by Edgal’s men, the residents, who hitherto lived in fear, heaved a sigh of relief.
Before Edgal took the baton, kidnapping, which was rare in Lagos, was becoming a regular occurrence. Students in boarding schools were kidnapped in Ikorodu and Epe. Members of the public were alarmed that schools had become soft target for kidnappers. The arrest of the notorious kidnap kingpin, “Evans” climaxed Edgal’s anti-crime fighting.
Evidently, in the past eight months of Edgal’s unwavering and unrelenting stance against criminality, the police Intelligence Response team (IRT), the anti-kidnapping squad and other detectives have been combing the nooks and crannies of Lagos State to snuff out kidnappers and sundry criminals with the result that the spate of kidnapping has reduced. This is not a mean feat. More support and encouragement are needed for Edgal and his men to prosecute their onerous task.