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Sound n’ Screen:Crime Beat On NTA Channel 10… The Genesis

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Karina Theresa Martinez, popularly known as Miss K, at the NTA Studio

Karina Theresa Martinez, popularly known as Miss K, at the NTA Studio

WE waited for him, Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Jomo Kenyatta, the fiery leader of the Mau-Mau tribe of Kenya and the scourge of the British imperialists. At that time in 1986, Uhuru, now President of Kenya, was the Head of the Current Affairs Department of the BBC Television in London West 12.

As Head, he was to approve a representative episode from the nine-hour episodes of the documentary series titled The Africans: A triple heritage, written and presented by late Professor Alli Mazrui, a Kenyan, and a Political Scientist who taught and lived in America.

When Uhuru arrived, he apologized for coming a little bit behind schedule. The Executive Producer of The Africans, David Harrison, later the visual biographer of Nelson Mandella, introduced me to Uhuru as the co-producer from the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Lagos looking after the series for Africa.

When I was promoted to the post of General Manager of NTA Channel 10, on Victoria Island, Lagos in 1987, I re-designed the programme to suit our environment and facilities. It was titled Crime Beat, it was not as rich as Crime Watch of the BBCTV because facilities here couldn’t accommodate some of the graphics used in Crime Watch. Besides, our own design was a weekly programme while Crime Watch was a fortnightly programme.

As he settled down, the projector was switched on and in 50 minutes, the screening of that episode ended.
Uhuru Kenyatta: Dave, you think the sequence of amputated hands of the carvings need to be there? You know the critical British viewers you have here.

Peter Bate: (one of the series producers): Yes Uhuru. It should be there. That’s how our forefathers treated some of the slaves and we should let their children and grand children know the havoc wreaked on Africans by their forefathers.
David Harrison: Let’s ask Boyega (many white can’t pronounce ‘GB’ in Yoruba names). What do you think?
’Gboyega: That sequence should be retained. That’s part of the Afro-British historical relationship-imperialism, slavery, exploitation etc.

Uhuru Kenyatta: Where did you take those shots?
Peter Bate: From the British Museum.
Uhuru Kenyatta: (paused a little) Hmm….. well, David, approved! Everybody clapped. It was time for red wine but I moved to the adjacent room where I met running on the TV screen: Crime Watch, a fortnightly security and crime programme. I took notes.

When I was promoted to the post of General Manager of NTA Channel 10, on Victoria Island, Lagos in 1987, I re-designed the programme to suit our environment and facilities. It was titled Crime Beat, it was not as rich as Crime Watch of the BBCTV because facilities here couldn’t accommodate some of the graphics used in Crime Watch. Besides, our own design was a weekly programme while Crime Watch was a fortnightly programme.

I wrote to the then Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Inyang intimating him with the proposed programme and the need for police personnel to fully participate in it. Mr. Inyang caused a former colleague at the WNTV, Mr. Lekan Alabi then an Assistant Commissioner of Police (Public Relations) to liaise with NTA on the production of the new programme, Crime Beat.

Ola Fajemisi was appointed as the Producer while Taiwo Obileye was the presenter or Anchor-man. Several meetings were held between the Police participants and the Producer and the Presenter. The programme was launched by a senior Police Officer who appealed to viewers and the public to assist the Police in reducing crime rate by giving the police information which would be treated in confidence. The programme gave crime news, security hints amongst other items.

Before the end of the first quarter, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Inyang wrote a letter of appreciation to the Director General of the NTA, Engr. Shingle Wigwe who passed the letter to me for information.

At the end of that quarter of April –June 1987, I was transferred to NTA Ikeja, Channel 7. My successor cancelled the programme, Crime Watch, why? He believed the Police should pay for the programme; it ought to be sponsored by the police. My belief is that such a programme is a public service programme.

At NTA Ikeja (Channel 7), I introduced the programme in Yoruba as “Bolopa S’ore” (Be friendly with the police) or (Be police friend).

The programme was presented and produced by the late Yemi Fagbemi. It was more successful than the English edition on Channel 10 on Victoria Island, Lagos.

One significant example of its success was the Somolu episode. A car was stolen in Lagos and sold to the Bendel Housing Corporation Benin, now in Edo State. It was an informant from Somolu in Lagos who gave the Producer information about the stolen vehicle and its journey to the Bendel Housing Corporation. The Police was always in contact with the producer, late Yemi Fagbemi, so that no time was lost in processing any information. The Police investigated the information, arrested the robbers, prosecuted them and they were jailed.

In May 1988, I was appointed a Civil Commissioner in Oyo State by Colonel (now Brigadier General) Adetunji Idowu Olurin as Commissioner for Information, Youth, Sports and Culture. After my departure from NTA Ikeja, my successor ‘killed’ the programme. Why? Police should pay. I believed it was a public service programme after all; many programmes on most stations were not sponsored.

During the Governorship years of late Col. Sasaenia Oresanya (later Brigadier-General), I got two tapes each of Crime Beat and Bolopa S’ore to show the Oyo State cabinet and suggested that such programmes could help reduce the spate of crimes in the state. Surprisingly, the State Commissioner of Police submitted it was not necessary as the police was capable of handling crime detection and control. I was disturbed by the Police Commissioner’s submission, me knowing fully that his Inspector General of Police, Mr. Inyang had commended NTA for its introduction on channel 10, Lagos. A great opportunity was lost to enlightening the public on how to cooperate with the police in curbing crime in Oyo State.

At that time, there was rise in the growth of armed robbery in the state. Citizens didn’t sleep well, not with their two eyes closed.

When I returned to NTA in January 1992, I was posted to the Marketing Department and had no control on programme production.
In October 1994, I retired from NTA, security and crime prevention was still uppermost in my mind. So in 1995, I sent a proposal to the Lagos State Police Command. I was awfully disappointed by the way the Lagos State Police Command and its Public Relations section treated me. I suspect that my proposal was the basis of their programme, Crime Fighters directed by Tade Ogidan and produced by a lady.

Not relenting in my effort to see the public enlightened on crime and its prevention, I submitted another proposal to the then Governor of Lagos State, Col. (now Brigadier General) Marwa. Due to my suggestions, the Governor met a group of security consultants. Instead of a Television studio based programme, the Lagos State Ministry of information produced a documentary on the Rapid Response Squad.

When I sat down to review the efforts made, I no longer pursued the matter. However, the present situation in the country with the Boko Haram Insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, pipeline vandalization etc. the situation urged me to write this article.

From the time I left NTA Ikeja Channel 7 in May 1988, my experience is that:
• Nigerians especially security agents and personnel are not interested in public enlightenment of the citizenry unless they will financially benefit from the programme.
• Some Nigerians are willing and ready to give information about crimes and security incidents if they will be treated in confidence. Most Nigerian Police Stations don’t keep the secret. But through the Crime Beat on Channel 7, the Somolu episode justified the fact that people are willing to give information, correct information if they will be protected without those affected knowing the source of police information.

• Adegboyega Arulogun, former General Manager of NTA Channel 10, Lagos and NTA Ikeja Channel 7 and former Commissioner for Information and Culture, Oyo State wrote from Ibadan.

• There was a time in this country when informants were paid for giving police information about crimes committed. I remember when I lived in Mushin and Idioro in the early 1960s that when house breaking, entry and burglary were committed, the police in Mushin and Idioro usually detected, within days, the culprits. This was because there were informants who fed the Police with which gang operated after studying the mode of operation. Such informants were on the pay roll of the police. Does the Police still have such funds for informants? There is the need to provide such funds for the police officer and his Divisional Crime Officer (DCO).

• If Government believes in such enlightenment, NTA should have a half-hour Television programme which will be studio-based. The programme should be produced in the local language of the people. The office of the Inspector General of Police in collaboration with the office of the Director General of the NTA should raise a production team that will liaise with the local television stations and the State Commissioners of Police.

• There will be the need to train Police Personnel in field camera operation and video editing not necessarily for the Crime Beat (call it any other name) programmes. An example of such training was when the late Senator Adamu Augie was the Managing Director of the National Television Production center (NTPC); he requested that I trained cameramen and a video editor for the Army Public Relations on Vitoria Island. They were all trained by the Production Services. The training was largely attachment to crews for practical experience. Lectures were given. It was majorly practical. That was the plan when I stated Crime Beat on Channel 10, Lagos.



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