Ngozi Braide, the former spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command, in this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly shortly before her redeployment, spoke about her job and various other issues. Excerpts:
A couple of days back, there was a publication that some people have opened Facebook accounts on your name. This will be the second time such a thing will be happening to you. What are you really doing to forestall reoccurrence of this criminal act?
It’s really embarrassing and shocking as well. I don’t know why people just want to use my name to commit such a crime. Last year when I got wind of something like that, I went to Facebook while we started investigation in the command. And after that particular account was closed, I can remember I quickly issued a press statement that I was not on Facebook. And I also warned the people to beware and not to deal with anybody claiming my name on Facebook. After my contact with Facebook team, I think that thing was taken off. But to my greatest shock and surprise, I started receiving calls from people I don’t know. All the police public relations officers in Nigeria have their names and phone numbers on the internet. So, some of them actually got my number from the internet and they’re trying to say they sent me a Facebook request and all that. And three out of these people have some companies. Some called to say they have paid some money into the account I gave them. Another one said I asked him for a particular amount to pay for a vehicle to be auctioned to him. Another person even said he had already paid N180,000 and I was asking him to pay about N500,000 to secure him a job with Shell Petroleum Company. I had to let them know I am not on Facebook. I also made them understand that I have decided to issue a press statement on that. And after issuing the statement, the Command set up a team and they have commenced investigation. By the special grace of God, we would fish out the perpetrators of this terrible act.
But were you on Facebook before the incident?
No, I was only on Facebook many years back. And it was a different name I used then. That was even before I became the PRO. I never used Ngozi to open any Facebook account. But for the past five years, I have not been on Facebook. Even when I went to Facebook, I saw five different names with my pictures on display, with different profiles. Some said I went to school in Osun, some said in Oyo, some even said Cross River. I never attended any school in any of these states. I attended Lagos State University. So, I don’t know how and where they got all these fake profiles. All I know is that we’re going to get these people.
You’re not the first person to have experienced this. A lot of celebrities out there have suffered similar experience in the hands of this scammers. What is the police doing to curb this heinous act?
People have not been reporting. It’s when they report that we investigate. The internet is something that’s so wide. At times, it’s not as easy as tracking the crimes that are committed physically. These are things that are done on the net. But with information, we can get them. What I mean is that when the victim comes up with information to assist the police, at least reporting. We have some experts on cyber crimes. These experts will go after these people and get them arrested. It’s not like over the counter report and you go back. Like in my own case now, I have gotten enough information on that. The victims of these people have contacted me, so we have a lot of information to act on. So, what I want to advice all the celebrities and well meaning Nigerians is that when they have such, they shouldn’t ignore it or encourage it. You don’t just keep your fingers crossed and continue encouraging them to keep committing the crime. We all need to join hands to fight this crime.
What’s your comment on terror alert in Lagos, with particular reference to the bomb blast in Apapa, Lagos recently?
I can remember I spoke with you when that thing happened and told you that a tanker went up in flames around Folawiyo Tank Farm. We didn’t know the cause. Also, I am not an expert. But what the Command did was to bring in Explosive Ordinance Division experts and they came in to find out what actually happened. I was also with the team. We all saw everything. And they commenced investigations. They received complaints at the scene of the incident. I also made it known to the media that the outcome of the investigation will be made known to the public.
But since then, no outcome has been released to that effect…
I will find out because nothing of such has been submitted to me. After finding out from the Command, I will let you know whatever the outcome of the investigation is.
What’s your candid assessment of the security situation in Lagos right now?
There is no problem. All hands are on deck. We’re working round the clock to ensure that Lagos remains calm and safe for everybody. The Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko, like I always say is somebody I would always love to work with because of his discipline and integrity. Also because of the way he always condemns and fights crimes.
But all the shopping malls and cinemas have beefed up security because of fear of attack and all that. Isn’t that?
Lagos Command and Nigeria Police all together are responsible and disciplined organizations. We always want to be proactive. We don’t have to sit down and cross our legs until something happens. We know the security challenges in the country, so we must be proactive. So, what we did was just a routine that we need to inform and advice people to also know the importance of security. You should also secure yourself as an individual. You don’t leave everything in the hands of law enforcement agencies. The shopping malls, cinemas, financial institutions, markets, religious centres and so on. All these places have to be fully secured because we don’t want to record any problem.
You have spent two years exactly as Lagos Police PRO. How would you assess your performance?
It’s like you, Tade, setting an examination to write and also ask me to score myself. So, I think I am not in a better position to do that. You and the public should be able to do that.
Be that as it may, would you say you have achieved your goal or goals?
I have achieved one of my goals. I believe I will achieve the other one before I leave. I set out two goals but on the day I will leave this place, I will tell you the two goals.
Would you say you’re fulfilled as PPRO?
I am very fulfilled. There is no regret serving as PPRO, Lagos Command.
Lest we forget, a couple of weeks back, there was a case of child kidnapping leveled against an Ikorodu, Lagos based pastor, which the police waded into. How far have the police gone about the matter?
We have almost completed the investigation. From our findings, the woman caught with the child is mentally unbalanced. We wrote to the psychiatric hospital to test her mental status because she wasn’t coherent when she was speaking. She was not really talking as a reasonable person. So, we felt something was wrong. She said she has been in the church three times, twice last year and once this year, that was in March. And it was in March 2014, that the man asked her to do that. We now asked if she has spoken to the man, she couldn’t say anything reasonable. The man said he even travelled. He said he just came back that day of the incident and he doesn’t know the woman from anywhere. The pastor said he doesn’t even run the place as a church but deliverance ministry, where he counsels and delivers people. We now asked the woman what she would have done with the child if she had gone to that place and she didn’t meet the man. She said she would have kept the child until she sees the pastor. We should have obtained statements from her children but we learnt that somebody came with a vehicle to her place that day and took away her children. We learnt that these kids were also in the house when the incident occurred. I just want to use this medium to correct the report by some print media that a kidnappers’ den was uncovered in Ikorodu. There was nothing like that because we didn’t recover any human parts anywhere nor people that are kidnapped and kept there. What we only saw was where people brought there by their relatives for prayers and deliverance.