By Kemi Kasumu
Veteran Journalist and former Chairman of Vanguard Newspapers, Alhaji Kola Animasaun was, on Tuesday, inaugurated as Chairman of the Eminent Persons Forum (EPF) for the Agege Local Government Area of Lagos.
Conducting the inauguration ceremony, held at the palace of the Olu of Agege, the Area Commander of Area ‘G’ Command, Lagos, Mr. Lanre Ogunlowo, said the forum was basically the idea of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris, to bridge the communication gap between the police and individual communities across Nigeria in tackling security issues.
The Area Commander who appreciated the new chairman’s commitment to ensuring security of lives and properties by accepting to serve, said, “I am here to inaugurate the Eminent Persons Forum (EPF). The idea is of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris and basis for it is that security is the basis for peace and peace is the basis for development in any society.
“The community has been supporting the police but we want to give them more job to do. The DPO and I are here today on transfer. We will go one day but the community will remain. Therefore, it is the community that can secure the place more than the police can do because, you know your area, you live there and you can tell better how to achieve success securing it,” the Area Commander said.
“The doors of the police are open. The era where people use their connection with DPO or Area Commander to terrorise people is over. My phone will be open to all but when you call me, the first question I will ask you is whether you have informed the DPO. It is when the DPO can’t handle a problem that I come in and when I can’t handle it, then it goes to the commissioner of police,” he enlightened on the procedure of getting police solve problems at any given time.
In his comment, the Olu of Agege, Oba Kamila Isiba, said he was in total agreement with the EPF because it was out to bridge the communication gap between the community and the police. He then spoke to both the Community Development Committee (CDC) leadership and the police saying, “Security of lives and property is uppermost in our lives. If you notice a strange person in the community, as CDC chairman, come and notify me and from there I take it up.”
To the police Area Commander, he said, “Anytime people call the police, let your men be on alert and respond to their call. Many times when you call police in time of armed robbery incidents, they would come only after the robbers have finished their operations. It is not good and it is the reason people don’t have confidence in the police. And people are afraid to give information to the police because they don’t have confidence in them being that it has always been the case that police were said to reveal to criminals who came to report them. But now that we have had this Eminent Persons Forum, the people are going to volunteer information for the police to be able to secure us well,” Oba Isiba said.
Delivering his acceptance speech, Alhaji Kola Animasaun, who was brief, said, “We can continue to talk and talk but the venue for talking is not here and the time to talk is not now. We will still devolve into committees. But I want to tell you all that I have accepted to be chairman of the Eminent Persons Forum in this area and will do all that is required of me as occupier of that position.”
Also speaking at the forum, a retired Magistrate, Mrs A. Adeoye, said, “Although I am a bit older but I am ready to serve. So, let us work together.”
A retired Army Colonel told the gathering that, “What I want us to know is that security is job of all. What spoils all our security efforts is the attitude of saying somebody is my son or so. If anybody has been bold enough to commit crime, he should be bold enough also to face the consequences. There should be no sentiment in handling security matters,” he said.
In his own comment, the Dallatun Agege and spokesman of Arewa Council of Chiefs in the area said noted that security was two ways. “The first way of security is the police and the other is we the community people. Security is two ways. Not all aspects of it are under the police. The other way is we. We have Hausa, Ghanaians, Igbo, Yoruba, others in this Agege community. If a Hausa person commits crime, the Hausa leader must not be sentimental about handing him to the law. Likewise, if a Yoruba person commits crime, the Yoruba leader should not be sentimental about handing him to the law enforcement. He must not be covered.
Giving vote of thanks on behalf of the Nigerian Police, the DPO of Dopemu Divisional Headquarters, Mrs Mary Ayim, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), briefly responded to some of the issues raised in the area of prompt response to calls. She said the problem with that was communication gap. “That is why we are here to close the gap. This meeting will be quarterly, every three months. We are now supposed to be checked by you. The era of police is lord is over,” she said as she thanked everybody for honouring the invitation to the inauguration ceremony of the forum which she said was detailed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to be the forum for retired people like Judges, military, police, journalists and so on for them to share their experience of life with the police in promoting security of lives and properties in the various communities.
CSP Mary Ayim particularly thanked Alhaji Kola Animasaun for accepting the offer to serve as pioneer chairman of the EPF in the area.
On the roll call were the Olu of Agege Kingdom, Oba Oyedeji Kamila Akanni Isiba, former Chairman, Editorial Board of Vanguard Newspapers and new Chairman of EPF in the Agege Area, Alhaji Kola Animasaun, the Area Commander, Area ‘G’ Command, Lagos, Mr. Lanre Ogunlowo (ACP), DPO Dopemu, Mrs Mary Ayim (CSP), Baale of Dopemu, Agege, Lagos, Alhaji Shuaib Ajani Shitta Afogunlowo, Dallatun and spokesman of Arewa Council of Chiefs Agege Area, Alhaji Kabiru Ali Dinar, the Magajin Agege, Alhaji Ali Zango, retired Magistrate A. Adeoye, President, Aluminum Profile Glass and Accessories Retailers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Olanite Biliamin Oladimeji, a retired Army Colonel and leaders of Hausa, Yoruba and other communities living in Agege area.