“There are two kinds of criminals…” – Obie, ABH Defence Minister
-KOLAPO Ayobamidele, ABH Press
In the evening of June 30, 2019, a serial thief was caught in Alexander Brown Hall, which happens to be the third time the same thief will be caught in the hall. Mr. Obinwanne Enemuo popularly known as “Obie”, the Defence Minister of the hall, in an interview with Ayobamidele Kolapo of ABH Press explained how the thief was caught, why the thief seemed to keep returning and what Brownites should do to beef up security in the hall. One important statement he made is “SECURITY IS A COLLECTIVE EFFORT”.
ABHPO: Good afternoon Mr. Obie. Reports have been flying around that a thief was caught in ABH last night. Is this true?
Obie: Yes. It is true. There was one caught. And he is not just a thief, he is a repeat offender.
ABHPO: I heard he has been caught on two previous occasions. Is that also true?
ABHPO: So, how was he caught yesterday night?
Obie: From what I gathered when I came on the scene, he had been going from room to room on D-Block 1st floor, posing as a Brownite. He attempts to open doors, and if he meets any resistance in the room he claims to be looking for some “pseudo-name”. The name he used yesterday was “Lawrence”. He says “Sorry, I’m looking for Lawrence”, and the person replies “Sorry, wrong room”. And then he goes on like that, till he meets a room where there is no resistance and the door is open, then he commits his crime. That has been his normal mode of operation, even during the previous times he was caught. So last night, unfortunately for him, someone that had been around during his previous apprehension recognized him and raised an alarm. I happened to be passing by so I just rushed up, and the moment I saw him I recognized him as well.
We escorted him to the security office. On getting there, we searched and interrogated him. He initially denied ever coming to ABH before until one of the pictures someone took of him the last time now resurfaced. That was when he now started pleading for forgiveness.
ABHPO: So, what was done to him?
Obie: Like I promised in my manifesto, everybody caught has to receive some form of discipline. So members of the Defence Committee, the Security Unit and some Brownites were allowed to whip him, using only belts, avoiding his head and other vital areas.
After that, I contacted the CSO of UCH. We then escorted him to the security office of UCH. We debriefed them of everything that had happened. They did their interrogation and decided that the best thing would be to hand him over to the Police, probably the OPERATION BURST Team. They called a patrol van from the station to pick him up, and the CSO sent a representative with the van that picked him up to debrief them of everything I and the Defence Committee had told them.
ABHPO: Reports have it that the last time he was caught, he was also handed over to the police. So do you think there will be any difference this time?
Obie: Well, we are in a flawed system, sorry to say. Seeing that he is a repeat offender and he probably won’t stop, the best thing would be to detain him for a longer time or actually try him in a court. But then who is going to press charges? Is it the Hall Management? Is it the students? Is it the victims that he has stolen things from? Because if you want to press charges in this country, then everything he has stolen from you has to be held in custody till the case is over. So do we have willing Nigerians that can sacrifice their property and time for that length of time?
Although, after speaking with the CSO, he said he would try to see if this guy could be detained for a lot longer time, and if there are better disciplinary measures that can be taken, he would see how that can be done.
ABHPO: When he came last night, there were a number of reactions from Brownites. Some said he wasn’t disciplined well the previous times. Some said he cannot try this in Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall in UI. So do you see his repeated coming as a fault of the Defence Ministry?
Obie: No. Definitely not. There are two kinds of criminals. There are criminals that go into crime to solve a particular problem. These ones have a shaky foundation. When they get caught and are disciplined, they stop. Then there are people that were brought up stealing. These are hardened criminals. They are not the type that get scared off by beating. For this criminal in particular, if you looked at his body, you would be able to tell that he had been involved in beatings that involved someone gashing his head open to the point of requiring stitching. So, this is a long standing criminal. Also, on different occasions, he changes what he calls his ‘juju’, so he believes that it would work next time.
ABHPO: If there is a recurrence of such an event, what do you suggest that Brownites do? Let’s say we have someone going from room to room, using a “pseudo-name”, what do you suggest Brownites do?
Obie: I’m glad you brought up this question. I and other executives have been hoping to hold a congress with Brownites. We hope to do this as soon as the new set (the 2018 set) come in legally. SECURITY IS A COLLECTIVE EFFORT. The problem I have identified is that people are too lax with strangers on their floors. I have pleaded and pleaded. When I approached some people, particularly females, about this, that they should approach strangers on their floor and ask them to kindly leave; they said they are scared of doing it because they have no jurisdiction to do this, and that is what prompted the notices in the first place. Now, these notices, like I explained, were not put up to scare Brownites from inviting their siblings or loved ones over. The notices are signed from the Hall Management. People are supposed to use it to send strangers off their floors, and it won’t be you saying it, it will be the Hall Management saying it. But, apparently, the notices have just been there. Some people have actually been using them, and I pray they continue. So I’m appealing to Brownites; please any strange face you see on your floor, just go up, challenge them, ask them what they are looking for. The most that will happen is that they’ll actually be floor members or siblings of someone, and then a simple “sorry” will handle everything, and at least, now you know that face.
ABHPO: Asides from that, do you have any other suggestions for Brownites?
Obie: This one goes to the female floors. The Security Unit regularly complains that whenever they turn on the lights on the corridors, Brownites turn it back off. The reason for turning on this light is because of the respect they have for female Brownites, that they do not want to patrol their floors at night because, you know, females deserve a lot of privacy. But all they ask is that the light on their floors be kept on. Now, I’ve tried to work with the floor reps to do this but a lot of floors currently do not have floor reps, so it has been quite difficult. But they are pleading, lights should be kept on, especially at night, so that with a glance you can spot any suspicious activity which would now pre-empt them to come to the floor, and they (females) are the ones at the entry point of the hall. Unless they are agreeing that these men should start patrolling their floors, and I don’t think it makes any sense for men to be patrolling their floors. WE JUST BEG. Now for those lights that are spoilt, we have taken note of them and we are making plans to fix them as soon as possible, but for those that are working, please, all we ask is just keep your lights on. Also, lights are being fixed in between blocks, as has been noticed, to make sure that there are fewer hiding places, and I congratulate the Hall Chair who took the complaints of the Security Unit and is fixing the lights in between blocks. I just admonish Brownites to continue on their own parts and, together, I think we can have a safer tenure and a safer hall. Thank you.
ABHPO: Thank you sir. So, asides from that, do you have any other thing to tell Brownites.
Obie: Be the best doctor you can be (laughs).