By Bassey Anthony:
…As CP Awunah Adopts Cutting-Edge Strategies
Despite his cheery disposition, Don N. Awunah, the 21st Commissioner of Police in Akwa Ibom state is, unarguably, a focused, committed police officer, who deploys his A-plus intellect, and vast policing experiences in ridding the society of crimes.
His rich academic background and early exposure to the time-tested values of hard work, honesty, penchant for excellence, and love for his country prepared him adequately for the many successes, promotions and accolades which he has meritoriously earned over the years as a police officer.
His well-deserved promotion, and subsequent deployment to Akwa Ibom state as commissioner of police has proved the axiom “that a good wine needs no bush”. Indeed, the people of the state have confessed that crime has reduced drastically since CP Awunah was posted to the oil-rich state in February this year.
According to some respondents interviewed by Daily Asset in the state, the CP has acquitted himself creditably in his assignment. They said their position is predicated on the fast sliding crime rate in the state.
The CP, at a recent interaction with our correspondent, revealed the secret of his successes lies in his proactive, methodological and dogged style of combating crime.
The Man CP Don Awunah
CP Don N. Awunah hails from Gwer West local government area of Benue State. He enlisted into the Nigerian Police Force on March 15, 1988. The number one police officer in Akwa Ibom State started his sojourn into the world of academics at St. Mathias Primary School, Ogwashi-Uku, Delta state between 1968 and 1969.
He later proceeded to Ladi-Lak Primary School, Yaba, Lagos between 1969 and 1973, where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC). He thereafter proceeded to Padopads Harmony Secondary School, Makurdi between 1973 and 1978. From 1978 to 1980, the young Don Awunah was at the School of Basic Studies, Ugbokolo.
Determined to acquire more academic laurels, Don Awunah proceeded to the University of Lagos, and graduated in 1984 with a B.A (Hons) in Philosophy. He followed it up with a certificate in Mass Communication from the Federal Polytechnic, Idah, Kogi State in 1990.
Not done yet, the Akwa Ibom state police commissioner went further to the Benue State University, Makurdi, where he obtained an ADPM qualification in 1996. He capped it all up for now with Master’s Degree in international Relations and Strategic Studies from the University of Ilorin in 2010.
Courses and Seminars Attended
Besides his rich academic accomplishments, CP Awunah has attended various national and international workshops and trainings aimed at fine-tuning him to be a thorough-bred professional in his chosen career-policing.
A few of such trainings include National Security Training in Israel in 2015, Train-the-Trainers workshop in Trafficking in Persons, organised in collaboration with ABA-Africa, Community Policing Training, Houston, USA in 2007, Police Leadership and Management-Community Policing, Scottish Police College, Scotland, 2003, Crime Prevention: Transnational Organised Crime, Unafei, Fuchu, Tokyo Japan 2000.
Others include, IT Conference for Judicial, Law Enforcement, Intelligence and Security Officers, Abuja in 2004, Study Tour of England and Scottish Police Formations-Community Policing in 2003, UNODC Seminar for Criminal Justice Practitioners on Implementation of UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime among others. CP Awunah is a detribalised Nigerian, widely traveled and a linguist.
CP Don Awunah has garnered robust professional experiences having held various top positions in the Police Force both within and outside the shores of Nigeria. However, the most notable ones include Deputy Commissioner of Police-Homicide, FCIID(2014), Deputy Commissioner of Police-Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Edo State(2014), Assistant Commissioner of Police CID ‘D’ Department Akwa Ibom State(2011-2013), Area Commander, Owerri Area Command, Imo State (2010-2011), Assistant Commissioner of Police, Management Service (2009-2009), and UN Police Spokesperson UNMIT(2008-2009). He was also the Police Force Public Relations Officer at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.
He also performed other adhoc duties which include Police Representative at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Police Representative. Board of Michael Imodu Institute of Labour Studies, Ilorin (2004-2007) among others.
CP Awunah is a Fellow, Institute of Security Studies (fsi), Fellow, Institute of Corporate Administration and member, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).
He spoke recently with our correspondent on his approach and concept of policing in Nigeria, and particularly his achievements in crime busting since assumption of office in February.
His Concept of Nigerian Policing
CP Awunah’s believes that the Nigerian Police is founded on the core principles and values of loyalty, discipline, dedication, accountability, and service to humanity. To him, the Nigerian Police has acquitted itself as a friend who shoulders the responsibility of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians in spite of all odds.
He is of the strong opinion that the police force is one of the strongest pillars of democracy in the country which also aids in the smooth running of the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government.
He posits that crime fighting is critical to community, state and national development as every aspect of human existence in the country has been positively affected by the operations of the police.
He disclosed that the Inspector-General of Police, IG Ibrahim Idris has democratised the police force to serve as the people’s police. He said there is “now a paradigm shift”. We are practicing intelligence-based policing with a human face”.
How he intends to bring his wealth of experience to bear in Akwa Ibom State
CP Awunah has promised to bring his wealth of experience garnered over the years in his national and international police engagements to bear in his assignment in the state.
According to him, Akwa Ibom is a unique state, and having served in the State as Assistant Commissioner of Police, CID ‘D’ Department between 2011 and 2013, he was very familiar with the crime terrain of the state.
He said that he is adopting analytical, intelligence-based and proactive methods in fighting in the state, adding that his modus operandi conforms to international best practices.
CP Awunah said that though the crime index in the state was the lowest in the country, he was not resting on his oars to ensure that criminal elements are dislodged from every nook and cranny of the state.
He commended the Akwa Ibom state government for its logistical supports to the police command, a gesture which has helped his command in the task of combating crime and achieving the security of lives and property of the people.
Achievements since assumption of office through “Operation Impact”
The state police boss said he decided to launch “Operation Impact” after a thorough crime analysis in the state. He said that ‘Operation Impact’ a mechanism for combating all forms crime has paid off especially with the dislodgment of crime hideouts during which suspected criminals are investigated and arrested.
According to him, “Operation Impact’ has helped in stemming the tide of gangterism, cultism, armed robbery, communal clashes and other forms of criminal activities in the state.
CP Awunah said that he has set up special units within the Akwa Ibom State Police Command such as the Anti-Kidnapping Unit and the Anti-cultism unit, in addition to “re-jigging our policing strategies”.
He posited that crime analysis conducted by the police command under his watch reveals that most crimes in the state are tied to cultism and political struggles and rivalry, insisting that the anti-cultism unit has discovered that there are more than forty cult groups operating in the state.
To this end, the CP revealed that he has posted well-trained and highly motivated officers to man the special units, and that through community policing, and improved intelligence-gathering, so many of such crimes have been brought under control.
Recent achievements of the Akwa Ibom State Police Command under his watch include, the arrest of eight suspected killers of Obong Ime Willie Atakpa, Secretary of Ukanafun Local Government Area and his visitor, Akaninyene Udo Aka. The victims were killed on Easter Sunday, April,16. 2017.
Other breakthroughs are the arrest of 12 suspected cultists and recovery of firearms from the suspects in Eket Local Government Area, arrest of Chief Monday Ndarake Okon, Emmanuel Marcus Umoh and Iboro Okon Umoh, the three suspected killers of Chief Okon Sunday Ubon and one Dick Udofia in Okoyo village, Ukanafun Local Government.
Also some local government areas considered as notorious crime flashpoints such as Ukanafun are gradually be cleaned up of criminal elements by the CP and his men. This is improvement in the security situation and restoration of normal day-to-day activities in the affected areas.
Corruption and Image of the Nigerian Police
CP Awunah is of the strong position that the police in the country is not as corrupt as some people think. Admitting that corruption is systemic, the police boss argued that police officers are part of the society hence cannot be completely insulated from the stain of corruption.
“There are bad eggs within the police force no doubt, but I think accusations against the police has been grossly exaggerated”
He admonished Nigerians to stop looking and amplifying the bad side or excesses of the police but rather support police officers to perform their constitutional responsibility of securing the lives and property of citizens and foreigners in the country.
Awunah adjudged the Nigerian Police as the best in the world, as it has performed excellently in international for a, adding that “Nigerian Police are the most sought after in the world. I would score the Nigerian Police over 80 percent in terms of performance”.
Lamenting that accusations against the police are exaggerated, he said “There are few people that can throw stones at the police”.
Akwa Ibom Police Command and Speedy Prosecution of Suspects
He maintained that the police force is the strongest force in the administration of justice in the country. According to CP Awunah, the police in the state under his command is ready at all times to work with the judiciary and other security agencies, including witnesses to ensure that justice is speedily served to suspects.
Challenges of the Akwa Ibom State Police Command
CP Awunah said one of the challenges facing the police in the state is the disproportionate number of police officers in relation to the population of civilians in the state.
According to him, “There are less than 5,000 police personnel in the state, whereas the population of people in Akwa Ibom about six million”.
He said, “Due to this deficiency , we try to have a strong policing strategy. We place high premium on community policing because the safety of the people are in the heart of the police in the state always”.