EXCLUSIVE REPORT: ENGENDERING A PEOPLE-CENTRIC POLICING: The DCP Tunji Disu Example

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By Sonia Odita

July 15, 2020.

Photo from Cyborg Disu receiving an Award
Disu being honoured by Crime Reporters
Disu and his boss, CP Lagos

Disu and Crime Editors

Nigeria Police Force as an institution; over the years has acquired some poor corporate image for itself due to the anti-service activities of some of its personnel across the ranks.  The Force is unarguably the near to worst agency of Federal Government with reputational crisis that has remained an albatross for whoever becomes the Inspector General of Police at any time.

It is so, because attempts at creating a good image of the Force by those who care, are often working at cross purposes with the dare-devilry of those who are not for any positive change due to their primitive tendency of boosting their chances of survival through illegal policing activities that largely hinge on corruption, greed, selfishness and un-patriotism.

The truth, however remains that in spite of the regime of the dare-devils in the Force, there are many patriotic, selfless, decent and progressive-minded officers and men within the system whose penchant is to bequeath the future generation; a Nigeria Police Force that wears the garb of a decent global security outfit.  Such officers are not lacking and one of them is Tunji Disu; a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) and current Commander in charge of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) at the Lagos State Police Command.

Coming as the fifth commander in the history of RRS so far;  Disu who assumed office in 2015, unarguably occupies an enviable position in terms of records of achievements.  His predecessors, no doubt laid a good foundation for him, but it is greatly to his credit that such foundation became more solid under his watch contrary to what could have been the case under the leadership of some pedestrian commanders.

Born in Lagos Island in 1966, Disu who began his post-primary education at the the MayFlower Junior School, Ikenne in Ogun State later had stint at Secondary Grammar School, Epe and St. Gregory’s College Lagos for his senior secondary school education.  He later proceeded to the Lagos State University where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Education before enrolling for a Post Graduate Diploma programme in International Relations and Strategic Studies at the same university.

Not done with intellectual pursuit yet, he proceeded to Adekunle Ajasin University in Akungba Ondo State for a Masters in Public Administration programme.

He enlisted in the Nigeria Police Force in 1992 as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) and trained at the Nigeria Police Academy, Kano before his redeployment to actual police duties that have over the years taken him to various places.  He has served as Divisional Police Officer in various divisions and state. At various times, he served as officer in charge of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Rivers, Oyo and Ondo States.  He was one time Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department at the Rivers State Police Command. Over the years also, Disu had participated in several international peace missions.

Since his appointment in 2015 as the Commander of the Rapid Response Squad, he has steadily proved that he is on a mission to etch his name in gold by extra-ordinarily working hard to make RRS a global brand through a more humanistic policing approach.  Perhaps, with a benefit of hindsight as the ADC to Governor Bola Tinubu when the RRS was birthed as an off-shoot of the former Operation Sweep in 1999, Tunji Disu has been very effective in handling the affairs of RRS.  He was involved in the Tinubu administration’s transition of Operation Sweep into Rapid Response Squad.

As a witness to the transformation of RRS from a military-styled outfit to a civil-based security agency, Disu has applied a more pragmatic steps targeted at changing the perception of Lagos residents, morale of his officers and swiftness in the discharge of duties statutorily assigned to the outfit.  The RRS was set up to act as first responders in emergency situations like armed robberies, spontaneous uprisings or clashes by hoodlums, cult groups, natural disasters or emergencies like building collapse and other related situations given the peculiar nature of Lagos.

The Squad in the past five years under the watch of Disu has upped its game as it has become evident in many situations that its operatives are usually the first responders in emergency situations even before police personnel from some formations close to the incident scene.  The RRS is blessed with about 2000 personnel greater percentage of who are dedicated.  They work 24 hours on daily basis, policing every nook and cranny of Lagos.

To a pedestrian thinker, the relevance of the RRS unit within the structure of the Lagos State Police Command may be meaningless, but it is certainly discernible that Lagos State rightly stands out as a unique state within the 36-state structure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  Its cosmopolitan status blessed with a burgeoning population that far exceeds 20million residents of both national and international citizenships makes it mandatory for a specialized approach to be in place in policing the entire state.

As the commercial capital of Nigeria with mega status and second fastest growing economy in Africa and seventh in the world with investments sprawling in every corner of Lagos, it is only instructive that the leadership of the state goes a step ahead to do the needful by promoting a security outfit that falls in line with quick response policing found in some advanced countries.  The idea is to ensure that lives and property are protected at all times with such finesse that is not commonly found within our local regular policing system.  The existence of RRS is therefore very much in order and the management of it so far, has also been encouraging with the likes of DCP Disu in position of leadership.

From available records, Disu’s administration has not disappointed the Lagos State Government as the dreams of the founding fathers have not waned but still glowing by the day as his penchant towards taking the objectives of establishing the Squad to a higher level is quite evident.  It manifests in the several landmark achievements recorded so far, to which the leadership of the state has steadily shown some appreciation.

As a quick intervention force, the RRS under the leadership of Disu in the past five years has recorded great successes in foiling some robbery attempts, arresting robbery suspects, tracking internet fraudsters, quelling community squabbles that often pitch one group against the other like the Itire clash of October, 2019 and Boundary area (in the densely populated Ajegunle community of Lagos) conflict where hoodlums often try to breach the peace of residents.

Commander Disu has severally led his men to storm the Lagos ICT market popularly known as the Computer Village in Ikeja to arrest dealers of stolen phones, recovered such stolen phones leading to the arrest of many armed robbers, pickpockets and criminal gangs that terrorize communities in Lagos State.  The RRS under Disu has busted car thefts, arrested suspects of blackmail, notorious cultists and teenage robbers.

The Squad has made grand breaking successes in its bid to ensure security of lives and nipping criminal activities in the bud.  Although, RRS was designed to be the first responder to crisis; under Disu, the Squad has so far lived above expectations by averagely getting to crime scenes even before others.   Apart from infusing modern policing techniques, Disu has brought re-orientation of officers in the Squad in order to erase age-long wrong perceptions.

It is certainly not an over-statement to say that under Disu’s leadership of the RRS, there has been a change in the perception of the citizenry as the Squad is fast evolving more persuasive approach in the task of discharging its duties.  The RRS has largely become a people friendly outfit in some aspects as it has become a common sight to see RRS officers assisting members of the public in need of assistance particularly those with broken down vehicles in bad spots and at odd times.  Such attitudinal change under Disu has been promoting the image of the Squad since he took over.

As a 21st Century police outfit tending towards global positioning in its operation, the RRS under DCP Disu is also fast engaging in advocacy as a crime preventive measure.  One of such engagements came up early this year at the Security Day Celebration organized by some law enforcement agencies for secondary school students in Lagos.  Speaking to the students on the need to avoid modeling their lifestyles after such characters like Afeez Fashola popularly known as Naira Marley, the Commander pointed out that such life-style is not decent enough to be copied by any responsible child.

According to him; this category of people are fond of wearing their trousers beneath their buttocks and always expose their under-wears.  “The Marlian also change their natural hairs to deadlocks, smoke illicit substances and live very rough lifestyles and other abnormal attitudes. Living such a lifestyle is abnormal” he cautioned.

Prior to the emergence of Tunji Disu as the Commander of the Rapid Response Squad in 2015, four other persons had headed the outfit at different times, with Tunde Sobulo as the pioneer commander.  He  was in the saddle for four years (2001 – 2004), Kayode Egbetokun (2005 – 2007), Olusegun Odumosu (2007 – 2015), Samuel Awopetu (January 2015 – May, 2015).   It is interesting to note that among the lot, Disu’s administration has had the benefit of attracting more attention from the State Government through the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF).  The Fund was set up in 2007 as an interventionist agency primarily to raise fund from institutions and organizations in private and public sectors and individual stakeholders by way of donation towards enhancing adequate funding of the various security outfits in the state.

The RRS is one outfit that has continued to benefit from LSSTF as the Fund equips it through the donations and contributions from organizations and well meaning individuals to enhance its operational capability and the effectiveness of the men of the Squad.  This is reflected in the thousands of motor-bikes, patrol vehicles, helicopters, gunboats, ballistic helmets/bullet proof vests, rain coats/boots etc.  All these have significantly helped to reduce the crime rate in the state.

Due to the pragmatic and efficient deployment of these modern equipments in the fight against criminal elements in Lagos, the success rate within the first two years of Disu leadership of the RRS attracted the attention of security stakeholders in and outside the state.  One of such stakeholders is the Security Watch Africa which in 2016 honoured him as the Most Outstanding Police Operational Officer in West Africa.  The event took place in South Africa.  At the same event, the RRS as a unit of the Nigeria Police emerged as the Best Anti-Crime Police Squad in West Africa.

On presentation of the awards to the then sitting Governor of the State, Akinwumi Ambode  soon after arrival in Nigeria by Disu and other state officials who were in South Africa to receive the awards, the Governor who  was excited by the award, was prompted to increase the amount payable as insurance death benefit to police personnel  who die in active service in the state to N10million.  Prior to that development, death insurance benefit for rank and file was N1million while officers were entitled to N2million.

As a performing Commander of the RRS, Disu has continued to win awards.  In October 2019, he was meritoriously honoured at the Distinguished Media Leadership Award of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Lagos Chapter even as in 2018 he was voted by the Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria as Police Officer of the Year due to his achievements as RRS Commander.  In October, 2019 also DCP Disu got an award from Police Secondary School, Minna Old Students Association for his commitment and exemplary service as a police officer.  He has continued to win laurels.

As a good manager of men and resources, Disu has continued to appreciate his RRS personnel who toil day and night to make Lagos peaceful.  He is a good motivator of fellow officers and men and would go to any length to show it as their welfare plays a big role on how committed they could be at any time.  Since the RRS personnel work under pressure, it is expected that the Blood Pressure of the average official is always on the high side, but Disu has made it mandatory that each personnel is medically tested before deployment to any tasking assignment.

The RRS personnel under Disu are also exposed to different kinds of training to enable them be in sync with any such outfit anywhere in the world.  Occasionally, they receive training in arms handling and other operational challenges as their mandate could take them even to the remotest parts of Lagos and environs.  As not all areas of the state can be penetrated, RRS personnel are trained on how to manage crisis in the vulnerable areas within such communities that cannot easily be penetrated.

One can safely say that under the leadership of DCP Tunji Disu, the Rapid Response Squad has drastically reduced the crime rate in Lagos metropolis as its operational vehicles manned by well kitted operatives are visible patrolling or stationed in strategic locations ready to give hoodlums and other criminal elements a good fight.  The quick response nature of the outfit has been encouraging hence the Lagos State Government under the present leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu like his predecessors would stop at nothing in providing the needed logistic and financial support to the Squad.

The RRS under Disu has continued to be a winning team as its people-centred approach in policing the state remains highly noticeable and appreciable to both individual and corporate stakeholders who also, would always be willing to donate to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund anytime the call is made by the state government.

This is an EXCLUSIVE report of Razor News 2020.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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