Chief Sir Francis Ikechukwu Ezenwankwo is a Knight of St. John International of the Roman Catholic Church Nigeria.
He is the Chairman, Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) Anambra State Police command. He is also the Chairman, Non Academic Staff Union of Nigeria, NASU, Federal Polytechnic Oko Branch.
In this interview with www.odogwublog.com reporter, Covenant Oluchi Ikedinobi , Sir Ezenwankwo , a comrade at heart and action spoke about the challenges of PCRC under his watch, security situation in Anambra state, ongoing plans for a PCRC for Zone 13 , abolishing of SARS and replacement with SWAT, and his achievements in office. Excerpts:
As the chairman of PCRC, what do you think about security situation in Anambra State?
The establishment of this PCRC was done by captain Effiong in 1984, that was when he introduced this issue of community policing . The essence of this community policing is to assist the police in various communities. For instance, this man got this idea during the time of Lord Lugard in 1914, when Lugard proposed the policy of going beyond people through people, policy of going beyond them through them. The PCRC is just an eye of the commissioner of police in the various divisions of Anambra State. For instance, if a DPO is newly posted to Ajalli maybe the person is a northern person, he cannot know anywhere, one of the functions of PCRC in our division is to take the man to the traditional rulers of that local government, show them the community president general, that is why the Constitution of PCRC empowers that the traditional rulers and presidents general of any town are members of the PCRC. This is the essence of the synergy between the community policing. That was exactly what Captain Effiong did in 1984, so the functions now are many but not limited to assist various divisions on issue of security. You cannot talk about the police without talking about fighting crime and criminality, which was one of the objectives and principles of forming the police force as the oldest force in Nigeria, No force exists before police force. It was after the police that we have Army , the Navy among others.
And they are just a branch of police force and the principal essence of policing is to fight crime and criminality , protect the lives and property of individuals. That is why any police officer who is going against this policy is not helping Nigeria policing, because you’re going to fight the crime and criminality, protect the lives and property.
What is your thinking about the abolishment of SARS?
The issue of this abolishment of SARS came up, and I spoke extensively about that at SARS Awkuzu begging the federal government not to do that. I was looking at what should happen if this SARS is scrapped off. I was considering what will happen. You see if you come to your family, you say you’re inviting a police officer because of your family matter, you will see they won’t take it serious, but immediately you say I am going to Anti- cult Enugu- Ukwu or I am going to SARS , Awkuzu, people will be fidgeting. So, you found out in one of the functions, this special Anti-robbery squad, one of their functions now is making people afraid, making people to be free from crime. To the little they could , but in recent development where you now be a managing and damaging director is not fair again. You’re now trusted to save the lives of people and you’re now killing them, it is not fair.
So, what am even saying about the SARS is that Federal government should come up with another dimension. But my worry is that if you call it another name like what the IG announced now SWAT, it is the same personnel, though IGP is telling us that this new team are not part of old order and that they would be trained to have human face in the discharge of their duties.
I am still worried that whatsoever you call it, it’s the same personnel, like somebody now , you see APC and PDP, the same people from the PDP are into APC, is it not true? It’s a question of interest. So, I am not of the opinion that SARS should be scrapped off , but am of the opinion that the personnel within the SARS should be punished according to whatever thing anybody does. If a SARS man kill somebody, that man should be put against drums to be killed and immediately you start implementing it that way, there must be decorum, there must be discipline in that place, scrapping it will be creating another problem in Nigeria.
** Now that SARS is no more but SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics Team), do you think that your office can help in any capacity reducing tension between old SARS and the masses?
Yes, something should be done, that you dissolve the SARS doesn’t mean you’ve dissolved the personnel. That you dissolve the name entity SARS does not mean you’ve dissolved the personnel what the IGP is saying that this attitude of this people is not commendable because of that I am going to bring in another name that is not SARS . He also said that he will send all this SARS former members to be spectators in all the divisions, is it not the same personnel? If somebody should make someone a Rev fr. he has not removed the bad character in him. Maybe he measured up to be a priest, but the wickedness is still there , are you following me, so it’s a change of nomenclature because this people when you dissolve them in outfit they have not been dissolved as personnel of Nigerian police.
Again, note that killing of any human being is inhuman. Nobody has any right to kill anybody, its even a biblical injection that is why we have laws in Nigeria , in a civilized society, you don’t use gun on anybody. If anyone commits anything, you use the process of law to get what you claim is yours, and not killing people in cold blood. Truth is that you don’t do things like some of this officers do that warranted #EndSARS# in civilized societies. You can’t do it in America. You cannot use gun against anyone as a security personnel. Why should you be shooting people?
** Anger may be in the air in Anambra among these officers previously in SARS, any advice?
Let me even tell you in Anambra State, we can’t have that such issue, we have an able commissioner of police. John Abang is a very good man, we can’t see this kind of thing and we can’t tolerate it, it’s unacceptable for a police to be shooting a civilian, it’s unacceptable if anybody is caught in such an act , police officers should use the process of law in prosecuting offenders. If the law says kill this man, yes that is because the law have stated it. You cannot come to do extra judicial killing in 21st century just like what the Bakkassi did then in Anambra and some parts of South East. Killing by the police or SARS is extra-judicial killing and no person has any right in anywhere at any cost to kill, that is why people are now agitating against SARS. Why can’t we as officers listen to people before you do anything, follow the due process that this person have offended this person, push the person to court . We are in a civilized society.
- As the chairman of PCRC in Anambra State, have you been able to achieve anything in the last 5-6yrs ?
Jesus Christ!!!! Yes! We have achieved a lot. One, when I was elected to the chairman of PCRC in 2015, there was nothing like PCRC in anywhere in the division in Anambra state. The existence were just mere mouth. I started with chairman of PCRC Ajalli division. I was there for 5yrs, I formed the PCRC Ajalli division, the records are there. There was nothing like PCRC at Ajalli, the then Francis who was the chairman, was the chairman, treasurer was everything. I came in without anything and formed the PCRC, as I was leaving we were 48 as members. I opened account and left N180,000 in that place. Then, I was elected the chairman Area command Nnewi, there was nothing like PCRC, in that command Nnewi. I went there started now forming all the divisions in Nnewi, both the PCRC at Okija, Otolo, CPS was shaking. I opened account with Zenith bank, as I was leaving I left over N300,000 in the account. Before 2015 in Anambra state PCRC, there was no account . It was power tussle between one Agupusi and Opika. There were court cases. There was problem everywhere. I was elected and I decided to resolve that issue between the two factions.
When I was elected, I opened an account with first bank, and we have been able to form PCRC with elected officials and membership in the whole divisions in Anambra state. I have done the first calendar to show the world that all the DPO’s are working somewhere in one division and or the other. I have given partnership award to deserving sons and daughters of Anambra state. That was in 2018. We organized it and used Awka south local government quarters to do it and by Grace of God, I am now the chairman of PCRC when zone 13 started. So, it’s now what we called good luck beget good luck. We are there , we are now going to form the PCRC zone 13. Now we have made the division between Anambra and Enugu because Ebonyi state is no longer with zone 13. Ebonyi returned to zone 9 Umuahia. So, in the shortest possible time now, we’re going to form the PCRC there.
So, we’re doing something . Thirdly, if you go to commissioners office there, you will see a gigantic building that was built by PCRC under my watch. If you go to Area command, Awka the building levy was made to all the divisions in Anambra State and we could have building today at area command Awka, so the former commissioner of police Umar Garuba pleaded with us to leave that one in the state command that they wanted to use it as a guest house, because it was a very beautiful building and it should now help us organize area command that was why he left that place to Area command for our meeting after rehabilitating the structure there. We built it , if you go there , you will see PCRC Anambra state.
Opika started it and I finished it. Very beautiful building and we’ve applied to the state government to give us a land where we will build our headquarters. We have recently written a letter to Isu-Aniocha Uze, where we are going to do garden , guest house, table tennis and so on . we’re now working towards that Isu-Aniocha at Uze, most importantly , there is unity in PCRC Anambra state. The day we went to see the AIG zone 13, during introduction, we found out that every division in Anambra state was there and that every division in Anambra state has an account, you cannot operate without having an account that is an executive order with rightful signatories including the chairman, the secretary. I do the inauguration of divisions myself by Constitution empowerment whenever they do it, I will go there and inaugurate it. There is eventually peace everywhere. That was why we went to the new traditional ruler of Amawbia for a courtesy call with every division in Anambra state, and there is no division with rancour or crisis.
I introduced preaching before any meeting and we must talk about politics. We must equip ourselves and be conscious of security around us because foreigners are coming and you know one problem facing Enugu state is problem of foreign relations . Nigeria is a foreign state it’s a new state and the problem we are suffering here now is problem of foreign invasion. You know what am speaking, about, people now are trooping into Anambra state, and after that you talk about Economic problem, talk about social problem, talk about other problems. So that is it. Exactly what is happening , we have true peace. Nobody will tell you about division of labour because it is maintained for the officers of PCRC, what is your duty is delivery. For me , I do my own duty and leave. The treasurer, the financial secretary will sit down and check income and expenses either of them can pay into the account. What I am concerned with is to see the alert that has come, that is the excellent way we’re running it. So we have peace in PCRC. We assist the police in the little beat we could . The assistance is not always mentioned for some reasons. I directed every division to attend to the needs of their command like for example , when the tyre of the vehicle of any divisional police officer is not working, it is the function of the PCRC now to fix the tyre and some of the divisions are doing it.
How will you rate Governor Willie Obiano’s security scheme in Anambra State. They say Anambra is the most peaceful and safest place, but many people are saying otherwise?
Let me just tell you the honest truth , Governor Willie Obiano has done well in the security. He has done well. I am a realist. In as much as he has shortcomings, he has done well with security because he provided gadgets to the police officers , but if the officer throws it out without using it . The fault is not that of the Governor but the officers provided with working tools but refused to work.The Governor recently gave them motorcycles ,the essence of this motor cycles to the police is for prompt action to the rural areas where vehicles cannot penetrate and somebody who has such initiatives has done very well. He gave out security vehicles to the vigilant groups in all the communities in Anambra State. He pays them, if somebody can employ you and pay you and you fail to do your job, it’s not the fault of that person. Are you following? So, that’s exactly , he has done well. He has done very very well. He provided vehicles for the police for patrol etc. In security, let me score him 85%. You see the Airport he’s building, this will help the traders in Anambra State. In as much he has not done anything for PCRC Anambra State, even when we have done more than 10 press releases lauding his feats and making a request for a bus. We have even written many letters to the Governor’s office and nobody responded. We wrote just recently again through the Director Inter Party Affairs, and we have not seen anything, but that he does not remember PCRC does not make him not to be hard working, we are just an integral part of the state.
Would you like to talk about Anambra Politics 2021?
I’m not a politician but a career civil servant, but it will be a tough Election.
The political Giants of Nigeria are from Anambra State, it will be a tough election and I always pray in this kind of match, let the better side candidate win, that has been me.