The Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Garba Umar, in this interview with TONY OKAFOR, says the police have the capacity to deal with any troublemaker before, during and after the November 18 governorship election
How would you describe policing in Anambra State in the last three months that you assumed duty here?
Policing here is easy. If someone tells you it is difficult, then he is not speaking the truth. If anyone finds it difficult, it means that the person does not have the strategy. But when you have the strategy, it will be easy for you. The strategy is what I am adopting; we have efficient patrol teams being led by sector commanders. They don’t necessarily need to wait for a directive from the command headquarters before they act on any emergency.
How prepared is the Anambra State police command for the governorship election next Saturday?
The Inspector-General of Police was meticulous in arranging the operation, having received adequate briefings on all the areas required to be covered. So, we are prepared.
The IG did the entire mobilisation and we have taken everything into cognizance so we can have a free and fair election. We assure members of the public that we will have the best election with enough security; and people are sure, they know and have seen our strategy on security, and they are ready to come out and vote because they have seen our strategy.
Don’t forget that this is the only time in the history of election in Nigeria when, three months to a major election, no ugly incident has been recorded, and we have the highest number of governorship candidates contesting one seat in the history of Nigeria, 37 of them. This is the highest; we have never had these numbers before, and we have not recorded any violence yet. This is to tell you that security is working in this state.
About 28,000 police officers are expected to be on duty on that day. Won’t people be frightened to go out and perform their civic duties?
Let me tell you, the Electoral Act says each polling unit must be covered by three police officers, and what we are doing is that each polling unit would be covered by three police officers. We have 4,608 polling units in the state, and if you multiply that by three, you know how many police officers we will be deploying there. There are also 326 Registration Area Centres and that is where most of our men would be. If you multiply five men in each of the RAC by 326, you will know the answer. Then, there are 414 major streets and black spots in the state, and if we deploy seven to 10 men to these places, you will know why we are deploying that large number of police in the state.
The Indigenous People of Biafra is still threatening that there will be no election in Anambra State on that day. What is your reaction?
We are all aware that IPOB is already a proscribed group and the proscription stops them from meeting or carrying out any activities. We will go after them if they try to foment trouble, through our intelligence network. Since their proscription, we have not had any activity from them like before when they went about molesting people. Sometimes, in the past, they passed through my office and even throw stones at us and insulted us but since the Federal Government waded in and got them proscribed, we will not have any of that because they are now an illegal organisation and if they surface, we will go after them.
As I said before, the IPOB group has not been kind to the people of Anambra State because people’s businesses have been challenged and made to suffer setbacks, and there is a need for us, the security agencies, to wade in and make sure they are not allowed to do anything that will bring crisis to the state. That is why we are after them. We do not have any problem with anyone that is not a member of IPOB, but the moment we see you with anything that belongs to IPOB, automatically, you are a member. We are telling the people not to listen to IPOB threats but to be law-abiding citizens.
So, what message do you have for IPOB members as the election draws near?
I don’t have any message for them. We don’t have IPOB any longer, they have been proscribed. Who am I giving advice to; people who do not exist? They do not exist; so, there is no advice to give to people who are not in existence.
IPOB members still send press releases to us and they are very strong about elections not holding in Anambra. Their statements are usually signed by one Emma Powerful.
Tell that Emma or whoever he is that he is a coward; he is not powerful at all. He is always in hiding and cannot come out in the open and talk. Tell him this is advice from the commissioner of police in Anambra – that he should stop misleading the people. If he thinks he has a cause, let him come out of hiding.
As far as I am concerned, there is nothing like IPOB. That person (Emma Powerful) you are talking about is a criminal. He is a kidnapper and he wants people to remain in their houses on that day when police will be busy working in the field so that he will attack people in their houses. He wants to use it as an opportunity to perpetuate crime. People should not stay in their houses. They should come out en masse to vote. Anambra people will not allow themselves to be divided because united we stand, divided we fall. If we let them instil fear into our minds, then, they have achieved their aim; so, we must not let them. But I must add that the so-called IPOB members should not dare us; if they do, we shall teach them the worst lesson of their lives.