Before now, insecurity in Kogi State was a thing of serious concern, especially in Ankpa Local Government Area, where the Eje of Ankpa was also kidnapped. However, that has become a thing of the past as the Chairman Ankpa Local Government Area, Ibrahim Abagwu, reveals to Daily Trust Saturday how insecurity was tackled in his domain. Excerpts
Insecurity is ravaging virtually every part of the country, how are you tackling the situation in your local government?
Before my assumption of office, there was a worrisome level of insecurity in Ankpa Local Government Area consisting of kidnapping, cultism, banditry, armed robbery and other forms of criminality. But on the day of our inauguration, the governor charged us to put a stop to the menace of insecurity.
He said we need to go after the criminals terrorizing our local government areas. So, when I assumed office, I immediately constituted a neighbourhood watch. It was an idea put together by my humble self and my aides.
We tailored the idea along a community line; we started from the unit, where we got persons from each unit, to the ward level and then the local government area itself. We have 178 units across Ankpa Local Government Area. Within the unit, we had a representative representing and overseeing the unit and reporting back to us. He reports to the ward, and the ward representatives report to the local government area.
All the intelligence is gathered and processed in synergy with the security agencies, the army, the police, the civil defence and even the local vigilante. Anytime we meet, there are volumes of information to be processed. All the chiefs, district heads and traditional rulers were involved. We also asked the chiefs that if there are any of their children or relatives involved in the crime, they should bring the person out. We made it clear that there would be no hiding place for anyone no matter your status.
As we get information, we act on it and that was why we were able to clear the local government area of criminals.
Since January that we put this process in motion, we have not witnessed any kidnapping in the whole local government area.
Before you came on board, how frequent were these kidnappings?
Before now, kidnapping was taking place like 5-6 times a week in the local government. The DSS and the police can confirm this to you. On a daily basis, people were kidnapped on their way to the mosque or church, people travelling were not safe, it was becoming a daily affair. It reached the level where the Eje of Ankpa, the paramount ruler of Ankpa was kidnapped. He was kidnapped about four days after I came into office.
The situation was so bad that we had to call our people – both at home and in diaspora, together, and we said nobody can come from outside and do this. There must be an insider. Today, the story is different.
The kidnapping of the paramount ruler, days after your assumption of office, spurred you to action, when you hear of kidnapping, especially in the North, how do you feel?
No, let me say it is not only the Eje of Ankpa. Once anyone is kidnapped in Kogi, the governor will be up and doing to make sure the right thing is done. If there is any security report, the governor will call the chairman and ask what is going on in their area, and the chairman will call the chiefs where the incident took place and ask what is happening? That is how we work. There will be a security meeting, intelligence gathering will be on, that is what we do to get results. In any security situation, you need a serious intelligence network to push them out and that can come from the unit. When people see that you don’t compromise, you are committed, they will take note and act accordingly.
Before now, Ankpa was like a hub for criminals, on a daily basis, any time we were on the news it was one insecurity or the other. But when I came in, my commitment yielded the result that we are seeing today.
Even though we know that states have their own peculiarities, are you open to sharing ideas with other parts of the country to assist them in solving their own problems?
That will be from my governor, because he is the person that gave me the charge. We cannot just do that on our own. I believe other governors have their own ideas that are working for them. But if other states actually want to know what we are doing, they can talk to my governor. He has the code of what we are doing. If he says this is what you can do, then we can do that.