Finally, We’re Winning The War Against Crime, Here’s Why

Benneth Igweh MNI, Commissioner of Police for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), embarked on a career in law enforcement driven by a deep-seated aversion to criminality.

Rising through the ranks, his journey has spanned nearly 20 states in Nigeria. Charged with maintaining law and order in the expansive FCT, Commissioner Igweh faces challenges in navigating the complex terrain and diverse population.

However, through robust patrol initiatives and community engagement, notable achievements have been realized, including the return of displaced villagers and a significant reduction in kidnapping incidents.

With a commitment to transparency and accountability, Igweh ensures disciplinary measures for police misconduct. Looking ahead, his focus lies on intelligence-led policing, urging residents to actively contribute to ensuring the safety and security of the FCT.

On a Nut shell sir can you give us a brief of you?

My name is Benneth Igweh MNI Commissioner of Police FCT

What inspired you to join the Law Enforcement agency and how has the journey being so far?

The journey has been very well, very rough, I started pursuing a career in the force because I hate criminality, I hate crimes and that is what prompted me in pursuing a career in the law enforcement agency.

Have come all the way, I rose from the ranks, I have worked in different places in Nigeria, I have worked in almost 20 states in Nigeria so I have come a long way and have being in the system and have being a crime fighter. People know me in town as a crime fighter and that is what I want to be known for.

Could you please describe some of the challenges you have encountered in ensuring that there is law and order in the FCT?

First of all, you have to know the pattern of a Nigerian. A Nigerian is somebody that if he complains a case against you to the police, he will like the police to use a sledge hammer to kill you and if you complain a case against him to the police, he would want the police to treat him as a VIP, that’s the psychology of a Nigerian in Crime fighting.

So this is one of the major challenges, knowing who-is-who, Abuja is a place that has 22 satellite towns and some persons leaving in them have no address and I keep saying it, from Gishiri to Kabusa to Nyanya to Mpape, 22 of them within the city and it’s a challenge because for you to know where they are leaving is an issue and many people think Abuja is Maitama, Wuse, Asokoro, Gwarinpa, NO! These areas does not even constitute one percent of Abuja.

If you reach a place like Kawu in Bwari, Garam in Bwari, Yibu, Ruboshi, the boundary between Nasarawa Toto, Gubugu-pesa by Karishi, Yibua, that’s where there’s Abuja.

Abuja is big, we have boundary with 4 states, and that’s one of the challenges, the terrenes are not so friendly, some are mountains, some are valleys, some are swampy, if you go to an area like Kuje, you have a lot of swampy areas that you must swim to pass and many people do not know, even in Bwari too is the same in some area. So it is one of the challenges, most of the terrenes in Abuja are not friendly.

So what measures have you taken to modernise and help the Police under your command to carry out their Jobs effectively?

One of the areas we have done is that every night and every day, we have the FCT today we have Day and Night patrols.

Everyday, we must be in the road, not minding the cost of fuel and diesel, the machines must be on the road and I thank God for people like the Inspector General of Police who would always encourage us very well, equally, the minister of FCT, they encourage us very well so we must do day and night patrol. If you are keeping a city like the FCT, you neither sleep nor slumber; it’s a very wonderful place because every known indigene, every VIP is here.

There’s no state that their people are not here, so if you are guiding Abuja it’s like guiding the whole country because there’s no state that their indigenes are not here so, that is what Abuja is and we are happy to be here.

So CP can you shear some of the notable achievement that your command has achieved within the short time that you have been in office?

A lot of achievements but the one that is very paramount to me and to the system is that a lot of towns like Kawu, Yibu, Pegi, Ebuwa, Yebu, Yaba, Ruboshi, that people left their homes out of fear have returned back.

We have returned the villagers back to their villages, they ran away because of kidnapping, banditry, and other criminal vices, they ran away from their homes but now we have returned them back and they are very grateful, they keep calling every day to express their gratitude, you can ask anybody, so that is one of my greatest achievement.

The Hakimi of Kawu will always say even if I die today am happy am back in my village and it means something to us and to security. We have given Abuja almost one month of no kidnapping and that is something that was almost on a daily bases here and the ones that were done before us are the ones that we are tracking now and we are doing a lot.

We have given them at least one month of no kidnapping and it is not easy and equally people complain of one chance, we have invented what we use and I have said several times, that there’s no law creating an offense to be one chance, one chance is robbery. So we have started treating them as robbers and that’s why they are of the streets.

We know so many gangs that we have picked and they are robbers, we cannot allow them to operate. Many people don’t know that there is no law, describing an offense to be one-chance, its robbery because it’s done by force. Even those ones that use to break peoples cars and remove either laptops or whatever that is inside the vehicle, we are picking them up.

Those people that use to snatch phone in bad joints, we are raiding them up and down, you can see my raiding system, we have to destabilize them because if you don’t destabilise them they will destabilise you so the best option is to carry the fight to them that’s why we go to the Lungu to start raiding, we can raid in Zuba, we can raid in Kawu, we can raid in Ushafa, we don’t care, so send a word to them that we are entering Nassarawa toto, they must know that we have come. So if you take the war back to them, they can’t be able to enter into the FCT and that’s what we are doing. If you go to an area like Gara-Wuse, it’s in Niger state or Tafa, or Madala, that’s where we go to fight them, we take the war to them and they can’t find time to enter into FCT.

What steps do you take to ensure transparency and accountability in the Police force, when it has to do with issues of Police Misconduct, how do you handle that?

We don’t condone any misconduct because the Inspector General of police who is the number one police man, is a decent person, we know him, we know his track record and that’s why everybody is trying to take steps from him so we cannot condone indiscipline especially if you see the way he takes indiscipline, not to talk of getting involved in criminality, very decisively, he take those actions very decisively and that’s what has ensured what you can see, police men are now behaving fine so, it’s not an issue, if any police man commits, we take it up on the nature of his commitment, we take it like that.

We cannot say let us lower the bar because his a police man no, if you go to some of our cells, you will see some of our policemen in our cells that’s the way the thing is, electric to the left, electric to the right, the way you do to Okeke, do it like that to Haruna.

CP how do you handle situations involving unrest or protest in the FCT and ensuring the rights of the citizens are protected?

Yesterday I was in the street with the labour protesting against the government and there was another group protesting in support of the government, so all of us met in the national assembly and everybody has equal right so, the pro and the anti, all of us met at the National Assembly, I was there with them. We settled everybody according to the plan and the way he or she presents their selves.

This people said they wanted to protest, we said ok and the other people said they wanted to go on solidarity we say ok, so all of us met at the National assembly, you saw the press covering us at the National assembly, I was there and am fully involved.

Sir what initiatives have you put in place to address crimes like cyber-crimes, human trafficking and organised crimes within the FCT?

Well we know the history of organised crimes, you see from my nature and study, am I one of those that study organised crimes and in the school where I went to study organised crime, I was trained by the Carabinieri of Italy and the Carabinieri started dealing with organised crime right from the Mafias, the drug Mafias since the ages. So in FCT, we have not left any garden to be free, you know drinking gardens? FCT has over 130 plus drinking gardens.

We don’t allow them to drink and stay so we have invented stop and search in the gardens because that’s the only place they can go, stay as long as they want, discuss and go away with nobody asking them what are you doing there, so we disturb them and that is why many of them are finding it hard to sit and organise.

We have equally sent our intelligence around, we have gathered a lot of intelligence, so for organised crimes in FCT, what we have for them in our system, they cannot succeed, my men are on ground both technical and otherwise.

Looking ahead CP what key priorities or initiatives do you want to implement to secure the future of the Nigerian Police force within the FCT?

Am looking at intelligence lead policing. If you observe closely, we have been succeeding because residents of FCT have started trusting the police. If I open my phone, you will see a lot of messages and information’s that people are giving because we came with a mantra of When you see something, you say something, when you say something we would do something and I ensure we will do something.

When they see something and they say something, and we do something, they would have confidence, in fact many palaces we raided we didn’t know they existed, it’s the citizens, like the one i raided yesterday, it’s a text message and when we went for surveillance Foreke, it was wonderful, we couldn’t believe its existing within the city and we have to raid it.

If you know what we saw, what we discovered, you can’t believe it, so one of the things we are doing is that we are telling the minister of the FCT here that there are a lot of uncompleted building even in places like Maitama, you see a citizen sometimes a very senior citizen, because his neighbour did not complete his own house, miscreant’s, armed robbers, will enter and start leaving which have made the senior citizens vulnerable to this criminals. So what are we doing with uncompleted buildings, you can see we have started raiding them from Maitama and we would extend it to every area in the FCT.

There are a lot of uncompleted estates, if you enter Lugbe, Lokogoma, Mbape 2, there are a lot of uncompleted estates and this are our problems and challenges because many of them have no access road and some, the roads are not motorable and people are building, going inside to build and those are our challenges and we are surmounting them.

What would you like to point out to conclude this interview?

What I want to point out is that, I want to inform the residents of the FCT that they should go about their normal business and thank God the era of fear is going and we have had night life coming back to Abuja at least for one month now, it is coming back very well and we will continue to try our best to ensure safety of life and property. They should equally help us by giving us any information.

When you see something, say something, by saying something, you would prompt us to do something so that is my message. We would look forward to a better FCT, if you see us doing raiding, there are a lot of baba-bola (scavengers) in this town, you may not know that many of them are not Nigerians, they don’t have address, they don’t have name, so if he commit’s any havoc, once he leave’s that place, his gone because he returns back to his country so there are things you see, when you see something, you say something.

You may see baba-bola (scavenger) and think he came only to take your trash or to carry things that are not useful to you but his also looking at your house to see what you have, if you spread your cloths outside, he collects it, fold it and puts it inside his bag. Some are going as far as collecting the DSTV because they know they can sell it off.

Anything you keep outside they must pick it so please residents I continue to beg you, open your eyes, primary security is of the eye not of the gun, what did you see, that is very important. The gun is secondary. The message here is help the police to help you.

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