DSP Usman Dimka is the Delta state commander of Eagle-Net, a subset of the Delta state police command. In this interview with some journalists at the state police headquarters after Governor Ifeanyi Okowa commissioned the Eagle-Net office he built, he revealed so much about Eagle-net. However, he said suspects should not be brutalised in cells but should be treated in line with provisions of fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria. Editor of Emeraldng.com, AUSTIN OYIBODE, was there.
Tell us about yourself
I am DSP Usman Dimka. By the special grace of God, the commander, Eagle net special squad, Delta state police command.
The police have many units, now we are hearing of Eagle net. What is unique about this unit?
Actually, it is an anti-crime outfit, established to augment the other patrol teams like SAKCS, SACU, dragon patrol which is stabled in the highway to prevent felony and other conventional units.
For all these units you have mentioned, the Delta public is very much aware of them but this Eagle net is it well equipped as others?
Being special squad does not differentiate us from other policemen. We are all police officers, it is just that it is a well trained unit that consists of different kinds of officers who are trained in combat operation and other vices aimed at preventing criminality. After the training policemen receive while joining the police force, the unit is retrained by myself and other instructors that we have kept permanently for training and retraining of officers so that they will be very efficient in discharging their duties. We are not violent and I don’t think other dragon patrol are violent. We are trained as public servants. And we are all the same police officers.
In the Warri area when you started, your impact was well felt, but lately we no longer feel the impact of Eagle net, what has happened?
Actually, we are on visibility patrol and at the same time, it is not actually seeing them that matters, we use our decoy vehicles for intelligence gathering. By the time we discover the hideout of the criminals, we launch out and strike with the official vehicles. I will agree with you that maybe crime rate may have increased, it rises and falls, it is normal even in America, but the issue here is that the same intelligence gathering we use was how we were able to arrest those criminals that were terrorising Ekpan, Uwvie, Warri and environs.
I was there personally to recover the general purpose machine guns, sophisticated machine guns, AK47 and others. Since those recoveries were made, I make bold to say that crime rate in Warri and Ekpan has reduced. With the help of other units like SAKS, dragon and other conventional units, crime rate in Delta state has reduced drastically.
You were able to put up this edifice and we can see a lot of sophisticated gadgets. Unlike the conventional police officers, whom every Nigerian know that does not give to the public. But this you have done is great. What gave you the inspiration?
Well, before I joined the Nigeria police, I have that zeal that by the special grace when I join the force I will try my best to make impact in the Nigeria police and irrespective of the meagre salary we have, I believe we can do something. We must not only rely on the federal government but thhrough community policing, we can achieve what ever we want to achieve.
That is why I embark on community policing. We have interactive session with community members of AOR, that is area of responsibility. If you are good and nice to them, you present yourself as a disciplined police officer, at any time you need assistance, they will help you. And instead of employing it for personal use, you put back what you get through the police back to the police. That is how I was able to build edifices as offices in the various states I have served.
How have you been able to use trackers to arrest criminals?
Have you ever seen a footballer playing very well telling you the secrets he uses to score his ball? It’s not possible, it’s my personal secret. If I mention that to you, I’m telling the criminals the techniques we use and they will go for plan B.
You have a well furnished office with modern equipment, can you say you are fulfilled with all these achievements?
Honestly speaking I am. There is one thing that is remaining for me and that is a tracking device. It is an ICT device which we use to track criminals. With the present inspector general of police, I know we will get them because he has started in other sectors headed by Abba Kyari and others. They have well equipped tracking departments. It assists in tracking criminals or stolen goods and vehicles. And I know gradually, the IGP, Ibrahim Idris, is doing very well and he is putting more efforts to ensure thar such ICT centres are extended to the states. If we get these gadgets all over the country, I don’t think the police will will find it hard to track criminals.
Knowing in our country, we don’t have maintenance culture, you built something like this in Ibadan, and today you are building another one here in Delta. I want to know how you intend to maintain this level of excellence?
Well, in terms of maintenance culture, I supervise this office myself and every morning when I come, I check around to ensure everything is intact. If I find anything wanting, I have to caution the officer that I detail to be taken care of the offices. So, with that they become extrordinarily cautious. I do employ some trusted civilians like youths who have just finished secondary school and could not go further with their education due to lack of funding. I bring them in as cleaners with little salary.
With the little token of salary monthly, they take it as this is where I get my daily bread and they do that job effectively. You make them understand that you are there for them at any time. With the assistance I get from members of the public, through community policing, I use it to pay their salaries and still maintain the office. That is how the office will remain as it was during the commissioning.
As a human being, what are the legacies you want to leave behind?
I have done this in several places. Like when we were in Oyo state, we were able to build the skynet special squad. As at then, we started with 30 men and five patrol vehilces. People donated vehicles, we use that to police their areas of residence. When I was handing over, I handed over 24 patrol vehicles from the five I started with. I handed over 162 policemen from 30 men. After leaving, I went to Abuja. As a unit commander, through the support of my area commander then, I told him what I wanted to do.
I said I wanted to refurbish the office, the junior staff quarters, the senior officers quarters and the officers mess. He asked me how am I going to do it, I told him through community policing. He started by donating his own to me. And I joined with the little I have and started it. With his support and other unit officers and with members of the public, we were able to build one of the best in Abuja, the same community policing.
If we make members of the public to understand that we are not volatile or violent, they come close to us, if we show them we are friendly, we can build edifices through their support. If we show them we are not corrupt, we didn’t join the force for corrupt purposes, they will come to us. This was how we built the edifice in Oyo state. I started the same thing with the support of the unit commanders.
From community policing, I started getting support everywhere. Top government officials who heard I was doing these things, supported me. It is not my personal money. Where do I have money to build this? I am a police officer, I know the salary of a DSP but because of whom you are before the members of the public, we can build a town if we present ourselves as reasonable police officers to reasonable members of the public.
While the governor was accessing the cells, I saw many beautiful things inside the cell, airconditioner is even there. I began to think to wonder whether this place is designed for VIPs. Why did you build such place for crime suspects?
It was the same thing in Ibadan. But later, people got to know it was meant for suspects. I could vividly remember I was asked why did I put a wheelbarrow pusher in a cell with a bed in a northern command. Everybody, no matter your status whether you are a VIP, a common man, as far as you are a suspect, you are meant to be there pending when you will be charged to court and possibly found wanting.
The beddings, pillows, mattreses, toiletries that you saw is because it is the fundamental right of every human. That is how it is supposed to be. They are only suspects, they have not been declared criminals. So, treat them as humans. That treatment you give to them even if they are found wanting, it may change their behaviour.
For somebody who is arrested by the police, feeling that on arrival, he will be brutalised, he is giving such airconditioner, he has access to beddings, he can shower, he will look at himself and think twice, I’m I that important? So, he will say I’m important but I’m turning myself to a useless being. If the police can arrest me and give me this treatment, I promise when I go out, I will never allow myself to do evil again. I will rather change to be a better man than what I have turned myself into. You see you have reformed him, not through brutality. That is the reason for what you saw. That interrogation room, you can see how comfortable it is, there is even water dispenser in it. If a suspect wants coffe, he would be given, it is his fundamental right. During interrogation, he will answer you in a simple manner and give you all details you want from him.