OBI LAID THE FOUNDATION FOR SECURITY IN ANAMBRA SAYS LEHA.

How Obi laid foundation for security in Anambra - Leha

How Obi laid foundation for security in Anambra - Leha

A one-time Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations), DIG Philemon Leha (rtd), in this interview with ODOGWU MEDIA, shares some of his experiences as a police officer in the service of Nigeria, including a revealing tenure as Commissioner of Police (CP) in Anambra State
 
  How is life in retirement and how are you coping?
 
Well, in principle, one is supposed to be resting, but I have a few things occupy­ing my time; further studies, con­sultancies here and there. But, in all, I am coping nicely and life in retirement has been peaceful and refreshing.
Having spent many years in the Police Force, could you recall some of the challenging assignments you undertook? Among others, you served as CP of Anambra State during a very trying period for the state?
Your choice of words is very in­teresting or do I say apt. By some of the challenging assignments, you seem to be aware there were many challenging tasks. In my time, I was drafted to various dif­ficult areas at different times. I was posted to Anambra State in 2009 to help restore sanity to the area. The state had witnessed incessant armed robberies and kidnappings to the extent that in August of that year alone, robbers ransacked four banks for four hours virtually unchallenged; which was serious cause for worry for the Police in particular.
The then Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo, called and sent me on a rescue mission to Anambra State to re­store peace. I was a Deputy Com­missioner of Police then, but was subsequently promoted Commis­sioner. It was a tough assignment and I am happy that relative peace returned to the state during my tenure.
 
How was that achievable?
 
It was not the sole achievement of the Police, but with the active support and collaboration of the then governor, Peter Obi.
What specific measures did you adopt to curb crime in Anambra State?
The first thing I did was to study the situation; and then attempt to unravel what exactly was happen­ing in the state – the real reasons for the incessant robberies, kid­nappings and other violence acts? Next was to examine the set-up of the Nigeria Police and charac­ter of its officers in the state. One of my findings was that some of the officers had been in Anambra for about 10, 15 to 20 years; some having been in the state since they joined the Police Force. Having spent that long a time, many of them had become ‘part-and-par­cel’ of Anambra State and had lost their sense of duty. I promptly re­quested their transfers. In the same vein, I also requested the IGP to draft a reasonable number of mo­bile policemen to the state, which he granted.
From my tour of the communi­ties in the state, I discovered there was lack of trust between the peo­ple and the Police, which endan­gers security, law and order. With the support of the Obi administra­tion, I restored public trust in the Police; and made all my four offi­cial telephone numbers available to them. I appealed to them to have confidence in me. I also assured them that no information they gave me would be leaked and that they should hold me responsible for any breach of the trust on the part of the Police.
It was like an agreement; signed and sealed. The results were tre­mendous as we received vital infor­mation that led to timely interven­tions in crimes and apprehension of criminals. As a matter of fact, I took a chance to the shock of my men – to release a man arrested for robbery who declared he had repented and would be feeding us information on any planned rob­bery activity in the state. Indeed, he became a valuable source of infor­mation that enabled us nip many robbery operations in the bud.
Even in retirement, I still receive calls from some stakeholders on the security situation in the state, which I pass on to the serving commissioner of place.
 
What role did you think the for­mer governor Peter Obi played in your successes in Anambra?
 
As I undertook my assignment in the state, I was greatly encour­aged by the commitment and de­termined focus of Governor Obi. Security was on his priority list and he always offered us logistics and other support on a scale I had not witnessed elsewhere.
People who do not understand him tag him a ‘miser’ because he does not throw public funds around like many other politicians; but it is really his philosophy they fail to appreciate. From my ob­servations as a trained policeman and interactions with him, Peter Obi has Anambra State at heart. He wanted to take the state to a greater height, which he did. In the process, he endeavoured to raise a team of men, women and orga­nizations with good intentions for the state.
Indeed, he was highly instru­mental to the success of my assign­ment to combat crime and crimi­nality in Anambra State. Aside from his support for the security agencies, he promoted collective responsibility for security and ini­tiated the demolition of properties belonging to or used by kidnap­pers to discourage their nefarious activities.
 
Could it be said that the founda­tion of a secure Anambra State being celebrated by the current government in the state was laid during the Obi administration?
 
There is no denying that fact; that is exactly the position. Despite the elaborate ground-work I did, my assignment would not have been successful without the com­mitment and concrete support of the Peter Obi administration. He also mobilized the citizenry to give us their co-operation. He provided us with utility vehicles, money to fuel them, allowances for the officers and built strategic security structures. Obi bought ve­hicles for the force. He really made a great difference, which the state is enjoying to this day. His succes­sors mostly need to consolidate on what we achieved with the support of Obi.
 
The man, Peter Obi seemed to have made quite an impression on you...
 
Peter Obi was also a policeman indeed and actively played his role as the Chief Security Officer of the state. I recall that he often telephoned the IGP, DIG and CP to ascertain the state of affairs on security matters; and we gave him updates regularly, with suggestions on how to resolve security chal­lenges that are always arising in our dynamic society. He mobilized all the security and para-military out­fits, including the vigilante groups in the state. He was really a de­pendable host to work with, which you do not easily find elsewhere. He was and still is a phenomenon and highly instrumental to the sta­bilization of security in the South-East, particularly Anambra State. Like him or hate him because of his attitude to money, Peter Obi remains the best that any state in Nigeria could possibly have. He is a very responsible man.
 
Do you have any regrets work­ing with the Nigeria Police and in what areas would you suggest im­provements in the Force?
 
Personally, I have no regret working with the Nigeria Police; having joined as ‘one star’ and re­tired as DIG (Operations). Though I haven’t made money’ while in service, I am contented with Al­mighty God has done for me and that I did not compromise my integrity. I started a building but have no money to complete it. The house I live in was built for me by some good-spirited people from Anambra State after my service in the state. They include Governor Peter Obi, Cletus Ibeto, Emeka Offor, Arthur Eze and Innoson Chukwuma. God will reward them for what they did for me. Such has been their generosity that I wanted to name the building ‘Anambra House’.
Before I left for Anambra State, the then IGP, Ogbonnaya Onovo, had warned me sternly. He told me that the people of the state were very enterprising and wealthy; that if I went there to harass and de­mand money from them, I would probably become rich but would be disgraced by them; but if I do my work effectively, I would be ap­preciated. On that note, I resolved to focus on my assignment with the best of my ability, serve my fatherland and to depend on my salary for my family’s up-keep. I have no regrets for adopting that resolution
For the Nigeria Police itself, it is, however, regrettable that suc­cessive Federal Governments have not given the force adequate sup­port, especially in funding. The Police are not properly funded to conveniently fuel patrol vehicles, service the vehicles, effectively mobilize police officers for de­ployment, purchase stationery, maintain its institutions, includ­ing detective schools and police colleges.
There is also the problem of poor welfare for Police personnel. It is worse for those on special du­ties. They are sent to far-off places and remote locations without ac­cess to food, water or any form of refreshment or money to pur­chase that. Many of them then device means of sustaining them­selves on those missions, which is the much talked-about ‘N20’ they are said to collect from motorists. No serious Police Force will en­courage such acts, but the govern­ment should do the right things.
OBI LAID THE FOUNDATION FOR SECURITY IN ANAMBRA SAYS LEHA. OBI LAID THE FOUNDATION FOR SECURITY IN ANAMBRA SAYS LEHA. Reviewed by benedict odinaka on Wednesday, November 01, 2017 Rating: 5

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