When he assumed duty as the Commissioner of Police, it was a tale of one day, one heinous crime. CP Kamaldeen Kola Okunlola, was so overwhelmed that, he virtually assumed the role of Chief mourner, paying condolences to families of victims of robbery, assassin or banditry attacks, reports ADENIYI OLUGBEMI.
To men and officers of the Sokoto police command, the best era in recent time, was the tenure of CP Ali Aji Janga, who took over from CP Ibrahim Kaoje, as the 44th Commissioner of Police to spearhead the affairs of the Sokoto State Police Command and handed over to CP Kamaldeen Okunlola, as the 45th Sokoto State Commissioner of Police.
CP Kamaldeen, who assumed duty on February 23, 2021, following promotion and redeployment of former CP Ali Aji Janga, to the rank of Assistant Inspector-General of Police and posted as AIG in-charge of Zone 10, Sokoto, had the baptism of what awaits him when he was welcomed to Sokoto state with wanton killings and kidnapping of innocent citizens, by bandits in three border local government areas, within a spate of four days.
Areas visited by the marauders are Gwadabawa, Amarawa and Gatawa towns, in Illela and Sabon Birni local government areas respectively, as confirmed by the command PPRO, ASP Sanusi Abubakar, in a press statement.
He said, “suspected kidnappers had earlier visited Gwadabawa local government area and whisked away the PDP local government chairman, Alhaji Nasiru Isah, whose whereabout is yet to be ascertain.”
Also, in the past two days bandits and kidnappers struck at the two towns of Amarawa and Gatawa, within Illela local government area, and Sabon Birni local government, killed dozens of people, as well as rustled various livestocks.
At Illela, the bandits succeeded in whisking away a wealthy business man, kidnapped several persons from Gatawa, while many others were maimed and internally displaced.
Scores were also kidnapped by the notorious and guns wielding bandits who unleashed terror on residents of Sabon Birni local government.
On March 2, 2021, suspected kidnappers abducted family members of Sokoto state Commissioner for Youth and Sport Development, Honourable Bashir Gorau.
The commissioner, who confirmed the abduction to our correspondent narrated that, the incident occurred in his home town, Gorau, in Goronyo local government area.
Gorau said, “It’s about 12:45am that suspected bandits attacked our house in Gorau town, Goronyo local government area and abducted wife of our elder brother Alhaji Lawali Gorau and one of our brother Hassan Manya.
“The information I got was that, the bandits stormed our house and started shooting sporadically. They eventually whisked away my sister in-law and brother.”
The doorstep of Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi, next day, was the next scene of the unabated attacks by gunmen on villages in Sokoto state, where suspected bandits in large numbers attack and killed one Malam Bello Magaji, at Saketa-Dingyadi.
Malam Bello Magaji, a staff of Sokoto state government and son of the late village head, who was matcheted by the bandits, died while being rushed to the hospital. The bandits in an early hour operation, also abducted a housewife and an aged woman, Hajiya Innawuro, wife of the late village head.
Alhaji Yusuf Dingyadi, a special assistant to governor Aminu Tambuwal, who confirmed the dastard incident to our correspondent lamented that, “these rampant attacks in our surrounding villages of Dingyadi, home town of Minister for Police Affairs is becoming too worrisome and unfortunate.
“There are no presence of serious police patrol or check point to stop the incesant attacks.”
In his narration, Mansur Magaji, brother to late Bello Magaji and husband to the housewife whisked away said, “the attack on Saketa was carried out by bandits who invaded the village on motorcycle.
“They had a field day ransacking houses without hindrance. They matcheted my brother who put up a bold resistance, and he later died when he was being conveyed to the hospital. They left with my wife and our aged mother.”
Distraught Mansur Magaji however, hinted that, the state commissioner of police, Kamaldeen Okunlola, visited the village for on the spot assessment.
On March 5, 2021, Sokoto State Police command confirmed killing of more than ten people during another bandits attack on Tara village of Sabon Birni local government area of the state.
The Command public relations officer, ASP Sanusi Abubakar, who confirmed this to our correspondent on telephone, said the attacks also left at least three people critically injured.
The village head of Tara where the attack took place, Mainasara Muhammed Tara, who narrated the incident said the bandits also carted away unascertained number of livestock away after burning down their food storage facilities.
“They came around 11:58pm, through the uncommon route to the village because our men and youth are guiding all the major entrances. We have not been sleeping in the night because of the incessant attacks on our villages.
“We divided ourselves into groups and each group was guiding one of the major entrance into the village. So, they sneaked into the village through the eastern axis, and opened fire on members of the group that were stationed around that area, and killed them.
“They then proceeded into the town, killing people. We buried thirteen bodies, including a six year old girl and seven people who were critically injured have been taken to the nearest hospital for treatment,” Muhammed said.
Muhammed noted that this was the second time in two months that the village was attacked, recalling that they had lost about 200 livestock in the previous attack.
Isa local government area was CP Kamaldeen next port of call on April 1, 2021, and his mission was to commiserate with personnel of Operation PUFF ADDER and families of two officers killed while repelling attack on Bargaja village. On April 27, 2021, five days after his familiarisation visit to Kware local government area, CP Kamaldeen was forced to rush back to the local government headquarters, as hell was let loose when resident of Kainuwa village, raised alarm that hoodlums enterred their village and rob one Alhaji Aminu Ibrahim.
Angry mob burnt down the divisional police headquarters, set ablaze one suspect and burnt down police vehicles including that of the Divisional Police Officer, DPO.
Respite however, came the way of Kwara-born, CP Kamaldeen, as he gradually settled down into office. The magic wand he employed to check the alarming crime rates in the state however, remains unsung, uncelebrated.
The seed that CP Kamaldeen, heroic crime bursting activities will not be hugging headlines was sowed by his disdain for the press when his maiden press conference scheduled for March 17, 2021, at the command headquarters, was abruptly cancelled, without cogent reason(s), from the command.
Behold, the AIG in-charge of Zone 10, comprising Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara commands, Ali Aji Janga, was marvelled, as he listened with rapt attention, to the scorecard of Sokoto police command under CP Kamaldeen, when he paid his maiden official visit to the command.
The official visit was a home coming to AIG Ali Aji Janga. The ebullient AIG who had held sway as Commissioner of Police at Kogi, Bauchi, Kaduna and Sokoto state Commands, save for the gathering of police officers and other rank and files presence, was closed to rebuking CP Kamaldeen in the open, for not celebrating the successes the command recorded under his watch.
Instead, the AIG took CP Kamaldeen on elementary tutorials, the rudiments and benefits therein, in constant and no-hold bare engagement with the media, on activities of the command.
“I am marvelled with the achievements you had recorded within the period under review. You need to be blowing your trumpet by calling for press conference in order to showcase the success recorded in the command.
“Media engagement should be part of your usual routine. You need to come to terms that, if you don’t blow your trumpet, nobody will blow it for you because, everyone is busy blowing their own trumpets,” the AIG admonished.
Will this home truth make any difference in CP Kamaldeen Okunlola relationship with the media in Sokoto? Time is tickling.