Superintendent of Police (SP), Ifedolapo Opeyemi Badmos is the new Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Lagos. She assumed office on Monday, January 11, 2016. Since then, the Ekiti born super cop has been very effective as the spokesperson for Lagos State Police Command under the leadership of the Commissioner of Police, CP Fatai Owoseni.
In this exclusive interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly in her Oduduwa, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos office on Friday, June 3, 2016, the Accounting graduate of Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti spoke elaborately on issues revolving around her life and career…
In January this year, you were appointed Public Relations Officer for Lagos State Police Command, how do you feel about that?
My appointment as Lagos Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), I would say is a call to duty and it’s in good faith and an enviable one.
What was your immediate reaction when you received the news?
I got the signal to report to the command as PPRO as a kind of mixed feelings because I know I am going to be in the public eye which I have always shied away from. And for the fact that you’re representing the police and you will, naturally, have to become conscious and cautious. You can’t be a normal person any more. So, that was like, “Oh, my God! So, right now, everything has become real.” And above all, I think it’s like putting me on my toes to be above board. And for me, it’s all good.
Since January till date, how has the experience been?
It has been a challenging one, though I expected it. That’s part of the things that gave me mixed feelings. It has been challenging and tough but I must say, my boss, CP Fatai Owoseni, under the tutorship of the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, has made the job easy for me. They have been able to be the mother and father hen as the case may be. And you know what the father hen does, when you’re doing it rightly, they put you under their wings and they cherish you. And if there’s any way you make a mistake, the mother hen will use the peck to just hit you and that’s all. And that’s if there’s anything that I need to improve on, they point it to me and make me know how to do it better. So, it makes the job very easy for me. I am not in any way scared. It’s when you have a boss that’s so aggressive, that you become scared and in the process may not know what to do because you do not want the wrath of your boss. You may actually misbehave. But kudos to my boss and the IGP. I will say I am under the tutelage of those two great people that I have mentioned.
What have been the challenges so far as Lagos PPRO?
The basic challenge is that not many people see police as friends or see them in good light. So, the challenge is like someone said, “How do you want to see your brand?” And as a PPRO, it’s part of my duty to sell my brand. And the challenge is getting the people to appreciate the fact or know the fact that the leadership of the force is working assiduously to restore the image of the police. Then getting to sink it into the public mind is a challenge because even if you go to the mountain top and shout it that police are your friends, they won’t believe you until they see the action that corresponds with your words. And in all, the leadership of the force is striving hard to ensure that we don’t only say police are your friends, we want action commensurate to what we say.
What has been your achievement since you assumed office as the spokesperson for the command?
Number one is that when I came in, we understood the open door policy of the Inspector General of Police and Lagos CP is also emulating that. So, when I came, I understood I had to let the public know that police now operate an open door policy. I strived to give that to the public by letting them know that Nigeria Police is their own police, especially Lagos State Command. And like what the CP did, the CP directed that I ensure the circulation of all the divisions’ phone numbers to the public.
Also, we tried to engage the social media because we understand it’s one of the power points of reaching the public and we concentrate on that. And we get the feedback which in turn makes us to review our operations and then meet public at the point of their needs. I think in all, we’re now policing the way it should be done. The members of the public can now feel the effect of their own police. And I think we have been able to bridge the gap between the public and the police. That’s one of the achievements.
Lagos is a heterogeneous state where crime seems to be on the increase all the time. Would you say that has gone down since you became the PPRO?
Don’t forget that one, I am not the CP Lagos State Police Command, I am just the mouthpiece of the command. But to answer your question of crime rate on the increase, I will say I disagree with you. Although, I don’t know the references or the criteria or statistics you’ve used to have arrived at that, from our own statistics, crime rate has dropped. It has not only dropped but to the barest minimum. And like you also said, Lagos is a cosmopolitan state, you may not be able to eradicate it all because you have all manners of people here. Decorum and ethics do not matter to some people. They just want to get things done. So, in all, we have been able to reduce crime to the barest minimum. Second, if we think of it, when last did you hear of bank robbery. Since CP Fatai Owoseni came on board, he has put operational strategies in place that have made it very tough for bank robbers. Waterways robbery has reduced. We don’t even get to hear of it again.
But what of kidnapping and traffic robbery?
Kidnapping is like a rampant thing. It’s not peculiar to Lagos alone. But the good thing is that, based on our performance, there was no person that has been taken away from Lagos that hasn’t been successfully reunited with his or her family. And not that alone, we also arrested the suspects. So, you will agree with me that most of the bank robbers that have found Lagos very tough are now facing soft targets. You will discover that most of these kidnappings occur in connivance with members or staff or even family members of the kidnapped victims.
So, how do you want us to address that kind of a situation? We can’t post a police officer to each Nigerian. If your driver drives you into the hands of kidnappers, should you hold the police responsible for that? It’s only if we’re not able to crack them, you may say police are not working. Or someone that’s in his room and his gateman opens gate and asked kidnappers to come in and whisk him away, you can’t also hold the police responsible for that. But if the police have not gone after such a person and rescued him, then you say police are not working. But in all, by the grace of God and by dint of hard work, you have seen this successful. And just like we have agreed on, Lagos being a cosmopolitan state, we can’t eradicate crime but we will bring it down to the barest minimum.
What’s the latest concerning the Ikorodu kidnappers?
We have arrested suspects and we have equally charged them to court. And they’re facing prosecution.
But we learnt not all of them have been arrested?
(Cuts in) Yes, even abroad, you will agree with me that when crimes are committed, police are still on the trail after some have been arrested. It doesn’t mean we have abandoned the case.
Tell us the most exciting moment of being a police officer?
My most exciting moment of being a police officer so far was the day I passed out of the academy. What brought about the excitement? When you get into the academy, the junior officers are the one to train you, they will even use stick to correct your matching movement. They will say you’re carrying left instead of right. They control your legs with all manners of things. They put you through a lot just to make you strong and get set for the job. And at the end, people that were your trainers, you feared them, mere seeing them coming, you are jittery. But at the day you’re decorated as an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), one star officer, they’re the first set of people that lined up before us. They saluted us and said we’re now their masters. I was so excited.
It also affected my life. No matter what you’re going through, you endure because at the end of it you will enjoy. When you’re in the academy, you face it. You’ve just arrived and you feel like life is all about excitement, then you find yourself in a condition that seems to be the end of the world. It was so tough. You’re not even sure you survive it but at the end of it all, you got through. And then your torturers are now the ones welcoming you, saluting you. And you now look at them, power has changed hand. What that tells me is that whatever you’re going through, you endure. No matter how painful it maybe, there is always joy at the end of it.
Tell us about your most challenging moment as a PPRO?
My most challenging moment as PPRO was during the kidnap of the Ikorodu school children. It was challenging to me. One as a mother, I was emotionally down, because I put myself in the shoes of their parents. Second, my people from the fourth estate of the realm were also on our neck. They wanted to know what was happening, and you can’t reveal the process of rescuing. So, it was so harrowing. At a moment, you would feel it’s like the press people don’t see you’re doing anything. Should I tell them? I will now quickly hold back again, no, I won’t.
Immediately this process is revealed, then we have jeopardized the rescue operation we embarked on. So, it became so tough and challenging for me mentally and physically. And at the end of it all, by the grace of God, the command came out flying. I remember one of the pressmen that always called me, “Madam, when are we going to see these children?” The first time I said, “soon.” Then, he called again the second day, I said “very soon”. Still called the third day, I said again, “very soon”. He now said I have been saying very soon. I now said, “Let me add another word, you’re going to see them very, very soon.” And you know your colleagues, the following day which was on a Sunday morning, when I opened the newspaper, what I saw was that the Command PPRO said very, very soon, but we don’t know how very soon it would be. But as I was just reading the story I was laughing because already we have rescued the girls. It was very challenging but by the grace of God, we were able to get through.
You were the Divisional Police Officer, Isokoko, Agege, before your appointment as PPRO, what did you miss and what’s the difference between the two offices?
There’s not much difference between the two posts but just as you asked, what did I miss for not being a DPO again? I love operation. I used to go out on patrol myself. I had my own fire arms. And I was able to arrest so many robbers.
And we learnt that area is very volatile…
(Cuts in) If you go there people will tell you that while I was at Isokoko, crime rate in the area reduced to the barest minimum. How it happened, I don’t know. But I think a lot of them moved away from my vicinity because they knew I won’t joke with them. Most times, when they wanted to go for operation, we would get them. And if we don’t get them before the operation, immediately after the operation, we would get them. So, they ran away from my domain, and some that couldn’t run had to behave because they knew there was DPO that won’t take no for an answer as far as criminality is concerned. Maybe I would say I missed those patrols, especially those ones at midnights.
You studied Accounting, why did you enroll into the force, or was it because of lack of employment in the country?
No, I never wanted to be a police officer. I had always wanted to be a banker. But thank God for my mom. She was the one who said no to banking. At a point, I was like every opportunity I had to be a banker, my mother would say no. But when the opportunity to be a police officer came, my uncle, Biodun Adeyanju called me and said, “Why don’t you try and enroll into the police?” Although, my mom kicked against it, “Why do you want to join the police out of many other jobs?” But my uncle said when he graduated in 1984, he wanted to be a police officer but didn’t have the opportunity. That’s how she convinced my mother. Then, I agreed with my uncle. I even heard the senior officer that was part of the team during the recruitment telling a women sitting beside him, “Don’t you think this figure is good for police?” That was how I was asked some questions and I scaled through. And let me quickly say this, the police don’t discriminate in terms of what you studied in school because apart from academic qualification, there’s what we call professional qualification. And that’s why, after you graduate you are recruited or appointed a police officer or rank and file, you still have to go through the training school. That’s where they put in you all the professional requirement of the job. And if you scale through, you’re good to go.
You mentioned figure, do you mean sexy looks or what?
No, I am tall. And you know their requirement as a police officer, I think for the woman it’s about 5.4 feet and I was 5.9 feet tall. I think I was taller. I think he was captured by my height. And I think I have also heard from some people in uniform saying you’re so tall in uniform. You’re good for the job. So, on a lighter mood, I don’t think the Police Force made a mistake in recruiting me.
And you also don’t regret being a police officer?
Not at all.