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Mr Ene Okon is the commissioner of police for Abia State who was transferred from Ebonyi State in February shortly before the 2019 general polls. In this interview with, he threatened to arrest the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu if he steps into Abia State.
You were posted to Abia in February; can we say it’s so far, so good?
I am CP E. Ene Okon, commissioner of police, Abia command to start with. Yes, I assumed duty as state commissioner of police, Abia in February 2019. That was the period of electioneering leading to the 2019 general elections. All my attention and efforts were tailored towards the success of that election, security-wise. I thank God we went to the election and with what we put on ground and the professionalism exhibited by officers and men of the Nigerian Police here, Abia was rated one of the most peaceful states in the Federation during that election period.
What other achievements have the command recorded within the period under review?
So far, so good with what we’ve been able to do. You will agree with me that during that electioneering, some of the hoodlums had a job to do. I mean the politicians engaged them in one way or the other, either as political thugs that they were earning little things from the politicians. Soon after the election, the money from politicians were not forthcoming again and of course, the guns they got from politicians to prosecute the thuggery assignment were not retrieved from them. With the guns with them, they went back to their trades; that is criminality, armed robbery and kidnapping especially in Aba.
We devised new strategies to curb the situation and the strategies paid off. Within a space of three weeks, we were able to bring kidnapping to a standstill. We had a good number of arrests, a good number of kidnapped victims rescued. We equally had a good number of recoveries of vehicles and arms from armed robbers as well as arresting them. We equally have a high number of cultists arrested. Now, I can proudly tell you that cases of armed robbery and kidnapping have reduced drastically. But there is no human society is100 per cent crime-free.
We know the command has some challenges, like in Aba, the police there say they don’t have operational vehicles, what are you doing to address this?
Yes, we have logistics challenges; there is nowhere you have everything that you need. Inspector General of Police (IGP) is doing a lot in that direction and of course, you know that we went into election. Just the other day, the state government told us that very soon, it will support us with vehicles. In short, we were assured that the vehicles had already been purchased and it will be a matter of weeks for us to have the vehicles.
You were quoted as saying that anybody that associates with IPOB in the state will be regarded as a terrorist, why that hard stance?
I have taken that stand because IPOB is an illegal organization; it has been declared as a terrorist organization. I am to enforce the law, maintain peace and order in Abia State. I can never, never allow any illegal organization in the state and anybody that belongs to such organization and carrying out any illegal activity should be treated as a terrorist and you know how terrorists are treated; I have said it and I’m repeating it. Just the other, we aborted a planned celebration of Biafra Day. The command that is headed by me does not know what is Biafra; we cannot have another country within a country. We remain Nigerians, living in Nigeria. So, they cannot celebrate any day, Biafra has no day to celebrate.
Why do you appear so harsh on IPOB since its members do not carry arms?
That is what they believe, that is their assertion that they don’t carry arm, but the law does not say so; they have been classified as terrorist organization and that is final until they prove to the entire world that they are not a terrorist organization. But who says they do not carry arms, have you searched and did not see any arms? Do terrorists brandish arms?
There is this assertion in some quarters that what the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu is doing today in Nigeria was done some years back in India, South Africa and some other countries. Why is his different?
Freedom fighters in India, South Africa and some other countries fought for their freedom; did theirs take the shape of that of Nnamdi Kanu? Those ones were merely nationalists, Nelson Mandela fought apartheid, which apartheid is Nnamdi Kanu fighting in Nigeria? There are no bases for comparison what happened in India and South Africa with what Nnamdi Kanu is doing. Mandela fought against apartheid, but Kanu is carrying out hard, subversive tendencies.
From the way you are sounding, it’s suggestive that if Nnamdi Kanu enters into Abia today, police would arrest him
He is already a wanted man. You and I knew how he escaped; he is standing trial already, so, any time he steps in here and he is seen, he has to be arrested and handed over to the court to face his trial.
What’s your advice to IPOB members?
Which members? Where is Biafra? We don’t have Biafra not to talk of indigenous people of Biafra. Rather, the people I will give advice are criminals operating in the state; they should relocate because Abia is no longer going to accommodate them.