The recent arrest of some suspected car snatchers in Ibadan has confirmed fears being exercised in the Oyo State capital that Fatai Abubakar, a car dealer in whose possession some vehicles snatched at gun point in Ibadan were recovered years ago is back at work. Two men were arrested in a stolen vehicle in Ibadan some days ago and they disclosed to the police that the car, a Toyota Corolla was bought from Abubakar, better known as “Agba” . Agba who was arrested by the police for a similar issue in 2009 and was later released is presently on the run.
Street Journal was at the Police Headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan to ask some questions on the alleged complicity of the police in Agba’s release after his arrest in 2009. In the ensuing interview, the Police PRO, DSP Ayodele Lanade denied that the Police Force compromised or facilitated Agba’s release. Excerpts:
There have been insinuations that the police force compromised on the issue of Agba who was arrested around 2009, taken to court and released. Now he is wanted again by the police on allegations of committing the same offence. What is your view of this?
You have said it all, that around 2009, he was arrested and taken to court. I think the only thing police has to do is that when somebody commits an offence, we investigate, when you investigate and have evidence, you can charge that person to court. It is now left to the court to look at the evidences before it and then make useful judgment. But if you are saying in that aspect that the police is compromised, is police part of the judiciary or what?
It is not a matter of being compromised. The way I see it, in 2009, I was not here. But you said he was charged to court. I don’t know this man and I have never heard of him before. But some weeks ago, we learnt that a vehicle was snatched from somebody, he was taken to his residence, there they locked him in the kitchen, ransacked his house and went away with some valuable items.
When this man reported to the police, the police started investigating. During stop and search, that particular vehicle that was stolen from somebody was arrested at Bodija with two occupants. The vehicle was then brought to the station and the case was transferred to Monitoring. In view of this, investigation showed that the vehicle was sold to them by the person you mentioned, Fatai Abubakar, aka Agba, who is now at large.
When they contacted the owner of the vehicle, he confirmed that he is the owner of the vehicle. The occupants were asked and they said they bought the vehicle for N 2 million from Agba. The owner of the vehicle said the value of the vehicle is N 4.6 million. But investigation is still on on that case, that is why we will not be able say more on this case.
You are assuring us that the police is not compromised, but here in Ibadan, there was a suspect who confessed to a crime, he was taken to court and he was released. The PPRO said it was the court that freed him, we got to the Director of Public Prosecution said it was the police that mutilated the evidence and that he could only advice based on what was contained in the case file. He said that was why he advised that the suspect had no case to answer. How do you explain that?
When a case is being investigated, if a suspect admits that he committed a crime, the only thing you have to do at that time is to take that suspect before a superior police officer who will ask him again. He will read the statement again. If he now makes the same confessional statement and admits that he committed the crime, immediately, in red biro, you now countersign, you put it into writing that so and so person was brought before me, the statement was read to him and he confessed and said it was written by him.
You now sign and the suspect will counter-sign in red biro. When you have done that, there is no other thing that is needed. If he has countersigned that he committed the offence, what evidence do you need again? So you tender it in court before somebody will be convicted.
The only thing I can say is that in this country, all of us should work hand in hand. Everybody should contribute his quota. Everybody tries to put blames on the police, they say police has compromised. Is it police that is judging the case? And like the saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied. When a policeman is in Ibadan now, investigating a case in 2012, he has been visiting the court for several months and he was transferred, even before ordinary hearing was done. They now send signal to him, you have a court hearing on so so date. Maybe he came once, came the second time, do you know how far the distance is? Who is paying for his transport? When he comes once or twice and there is nothing being done in the court, are you expecting him to come again?
We should continue to work hand in hand. We should leave all these flimsy excuses, everybody; every sector should contribute its quota if we are to clean this country. It is not a matter of shifting blames on the police. I remember I worked in some places, I won’t mention names. A magistrate would come to work anytime he likes and when I reported him at the security meeting, the man came to meet my DPO, (I was the DCO then) he said who is that your boy that came to report me at the meeting? My DPO was even trying to appeal to him, but when I came to him, I said I reported you. You did not come and your absence in the office is hindering my own work. When I have suspects to be charged to court, I can’t take them to my house and there is a specified number of hours you can detain a suspect in your custody.
Everybody should contribute his quota. If we are to clean this country, that is what we should do. We should forget about whether police is being compromised. Is it only police that is being compromised? We should ask ourselves. Which organization in Nigeria is not corrupt? I beg Nigerians in the name of God, everybody should contribute his quota. Forget about shifting blames on one institution or the other. We should do what is necessary; we should work so that we can justify our pay, so that the country can be clean.
Talking about corruption in every sector, the police inclusive, we were here in Eleyele when Agba was paraded after about 3 months in detention at the Special Anti Robbery Squad. When he was brought out, he just had a haircut and it was obvious he just shaved, he looked robust and fresh. Does SARS have a barbing section, or how come a suspect had a haircut and shaved the day he was to be paraded?
In view of that, the constitution provides that you must make a suspect clean. Even if he is sick, he is bound to be taken to the hospital, not to talk of being clean. He ought to be clean, so far the suspect does not escape. Your suspect should not look very dirty when you are taking him to court.
Somebody who has taken crime as a profession, his body would be used to it. It is only when a reasonable human being maybe mistakenly enters into crime, you will see him within two or three days, you will see the depression in that person. Physically, you will see it. But those who have taken crime as a profession, it doesn’t bother them.
The issue of barbing in SARS custody, is it that the barber would be sourced from outside or how does it work?
The constitution provides that whatever the suspect wants, he has the right to take. He has the right to see his family, he has the right to see his lawyer, he has the right to do everything as far as he does not escape.
It is not that you will barb him inside the cell, he may be taken out of the cell so far the police is around. If he wants to discuss with his wife or his lawyer, you will be with him, hear what they are saying so that they don’t say anything that can jeopardize the investigation or the judgment.
If he is sick, you have to make sure that he is taken to the hospital and that the Doctor attends to him, he is treated and he is physically fit before you bring him back. Even if somebody has been convicted of murder, you must continue to feed him and give him everything he wants till the day he is executed.
It is not because the police has compromised that he was looking fresh or he barbed his hair. The constitution provides for that.
Okay let’s go back to the incidents that happened in 2009 when he was caught…
(…Cuts in) the case is under investigation and developments will be communicated to the press. Don’t let us elaborate on it. In 2009 we were not here, the present Commissioner of Police was not here. We don’t know him, we just heard the name. But when we catch him, if there are loopholes, then you can ask us questions. But as it is now, the case is still under investigation.
Crimes are normally on the increase at this time of the year, what is the Command doing to ensure that people in Oyo State will have peace and be assured of their safety this yuletide season?
We know that getting to the end of the year like this, people are hustling, things are faster than they should be because some people who are not working want to celebrate the Christmas and New Year more than those who are working and collecting wages. In view of this, the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, last week changed DPOs within the metropolis to keep them on their toes and make sure that they work conscientiously so that the Christmas and New Year period will be hitch free.
I can’t tell you the details because if we publicize that, the criminals too are reading and they will be aware of everything. We will ensure that the end of the year period is hitch free. Though you know when we talk of crime, it cannot be totally eradicated in our community but we are working to reduce it to the barest minimum.