By Ozioma Odita
August 24, 2020|RAZORNEWS
When she was appointed as the first female police officer to head the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti, Yaba, Lagos, in early 2018, only those familiar with her pedigree could believe that Yetunde Longe; a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) was coming with a Midas touch that would change the narrative of a department, which was sliding back to the state it was before CP Olayinka Balogun; a commissioner of police (now retired) years back kick-started the rebranding of the ‘old SCID Panti’.
Years back in the late 90s and early 21st Century, SCID was literarily in environmental mess as it looked more like a junk yard with decrepit exhibit vehicles littering every available space. Its cells emitted foul odors that often reminded visitors to the place of a mortuary environment as suspects, some of whom were arrested with serious body injuries could spend days and weeks in confinement with the festering wounds that sent out unpleasant smell.
Such was the state of the SCID of yester-years before the likes of Olayinka Balogun took the headship of the place and chose to turn things around. Obviously buoyed by the same spirit of decency, DCP Yetunde Longe on assumption of office as the DCP in charge of the department chose to take the place to a higher stake by committing time and energy in silently rebranding every facet of the department both in terms of attitudinal change of personnel and operational processes.
Perhaps with a benefit of her early exposure at the New York Police Defense Academy, United States of America where she did her internship soon after she realized her interest in police practice, Longe became more determined to bring the best global practice to bear in the activities of the Nigeria Police Force. She had enlisted in the Force as a Cadet in 1990 and since then, has served in different capacities and formations across the country.
At a time, she was at the Force CIB, Abuja where her dexterity was manifest. At various times, she served as the second-in-charge at the State Criminal Investigation Branch, Lagos, , Second-in-charge at Area F Command, and later Commander in charge of Area F. She was one time Commandant of Police Training School, Deputy Commissioner of Police, SCID Bauchi and some other positions.
Her academic and professional experiences span several institutions and organizations of diverse higher studies both in Nigeria and overseas. In terms of training, Longe has had the privilege of attending career courses in areas like Advance Detective Course, Police Staff College, Jos in 2006, Protection of Civilians, COESPO Italy in 2012 and also Training for Police Women in Gender-Based Violence – UNFRA/LS in 2015.
A citizen of Lagos State, a committed member of the Catholic faith and an old girl of Lagos Anglican Girls School, Broad Street and Lagos Anglican Girls Grammar School, Suru Lere; Longe leaves no one in doubt of the sterling qualities she is made of, with respect to her career as a police officer. These qualities have come to full glare since she assumed office as the DCP in charge of SCIID Panti and any discerning observer can carefully testify to the fact that there has been a great paradigm shift in the Department since she became the boss.
With its statutory nomenclature as a department charged with the detection and prevention of unusual crimes, the SCIID was founded to follow established global best practices. Regrettably, it went off-track at some point thereby leaving some abnormalities that obviously made it imperative for cleaning the Augean stable. The lot fell on DCP Longe to do the rebranding work and gladly, evidence abound showing clearly that those who appointed her did not make mistake.
Lagos as one of the states with the greatest economic activities and largest population in Nigeria; is reputed as having the highest attraction to all manner of immigrants from within and outside the country. This situation obviously creates some social disorder, as many of the immigrant settlers and other residents with no gainful employment resort to social vices that are in breach of the laws of the land. Invariably, some offenders are caught by the law enforcement agents, and among them are those who eventually find their way to SCIID due to the nature of their crime. These offenders are usually in great numbers.
Over the years, the SCIID was known for having many suspects in its cells as investigations into their cases lasted. Apart from infringing on their fundamental human rights of freedom of movement, such long incarceration had resulted in health challenges. However, with the assumption of office by DCP Yetunde Longe as officer in charge of the SCIID, such long incarceration became a thing of the past as she ensures that suspects are no longer detained more than necessary.
In her one year in office, no fewer than 600 criminal cases were handled on such high profile crimes like kidnapping, murder, forgery, armed robbery and so on. Many of these cases are originally handled at the divisional or area command levels, but due to their nature, the headquarters of the Lagos State Police Command usually referred them to SCIID, Panti for diligent investigation and prosecution as the Department is better equipped with men and resources to handle same.
Sticking to the mandate of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police (Longe’s immediate boss) which is predicated on charging suspects to court within the legally stipulated period, Longe leaves no stone unturned in ensuring that no suspect is unnecessarily detained as bails are given while investigations are speedily done to ensure that within a short time, those to be charged to court are taken out in good time. With the quick conclusion of investigations and release of suspects either through bail (if the offence is bailable) or early prosecution, the cells are progressively decongested unlike what used to be the case in past years.
As a way of not being accused of breaching the rights of suspects of early release if their offences are bailable, Longe ensures that court orders are secured to keep any suspect longer in detention if there is need for it especially while waiting for the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) on certain high profile cases. Her actions so far, have brought some sanity to the cells at Panti and created conducive environment for suspects as their rights are no longer abused and could not warrant the meddlesomeness of some civil rights lawyers who in the years past had made SCIID Panti their second home.
Prior to her appointment, the Department had almost lost its virtue as the topmost investigation arm of the Lagos State Police Command, but with her keeping watch over the activities of officers and men of the SCIID, the department has substantially cleaned up the bad reputation. Longe does not hesitate to query officers for wrong actions neither does she tolerate indiscipline on the part of the rank and file who perhaps, would want to take the Department back to the inglorious lane of yester-years when it was seen as a centre of abuse.
The DCP has cleaned up the SCIID operational space, injected discipline, enforced proper dress culture that befits personnel of a department envisioned in line with what obtains in saner climes. She has also reduced corrupt practices usually associated with bail by ensuring that bail is free for suspects charged with bailable offences in accordance with the extant rules of the Nigeria Police Force even though some personnel have chosen to interpret it otherwise in the time past.
As a way of promoting efficiency in their activities, Longe has not relented in ensuring that personnel of SCIID are exposed to trainings that would enhance their operational performances. She would not hesitate to engage resource persons or agencies that could provide such trainings. One of such trainings she facilitated for officers and men of the Department centred on community engagement and security services. The training was conducted by a United Kingdom-based security company known as Target Search Global (TSG).
The training among other things was to further help the police personnel improve on their relationship with members of the public. It also helped them to focus on, unveiling new trends and techniques of combating security issues and eliminating security threats in Nigeria. The training went further to expose the officers and men to mental health awareness, intelligence profiling, criminal data collection, modern interview technique and forensic evidence analysis.
As part of Longe’s efforts at repositioning the SCIID, Panti for better performance, the Department under her watch in July, 2019 attracted the donation of an ultra-modern Statement Taking Room facility which is a new technology in policing. The facility was donated by a non-governmental organization, known as Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (ROLAC) in collaboration with the European Union.
The state-of-the-art facility is to help bring justice to many and also assist the police to deepen their investigation and assist in the prosecution of suspects in compliance with the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State, 2015.
The new technology which was commissioned by the Commissioner of Police, Lagos before it became operational at SCIID Panti is a pre-requisite in the administration of the Criminal Justice Law which according to its provisions makes it mandatory for suspects to confess in writing and also electronically recorded on Compact Disc. No confession obtained from a suspect contrary to this, will be admitted in evidence according to the Criminal Justice Law.
DCP Yetunde Longe’s headship of the SCIID, Panti and the modest achievements made so far within the two years she has been in charge clearly give credence to the old saying that what a man can do, a woman would do better. She has demonstrated with keen interest that given the right environment, the womenfolk in service or leadership positions would always leave some imprint just as she would be remembered as one officer in charge of SCIID, Panti who added to the existing office buildings to accommodate more personnel and create good working ambience for them. She did it with lean resources and the effort would remain historical.
As she continues to exhibit humility, efficiency and Godliness in the discharge of her duties, the sky would certainly be her starting point and not the limit as she serves God and humanity in the years ahead.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED