•Kidnapping has reduced —Naval chief
•IGP rolls out new counter-kidnapping strategies
•As security experts call for sterner measures by govt

By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor, Evelyn Usman, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Joseph Erunke & Esther Onyegbula

ABUJA —PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, met with security chiefs on the security situation in the country and ordered  them to redouble their efforts to secure the lives of Nigerians.

The President’s charge came on a day Acting Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, rolled out new counter-kidnapping operational strategies in continuation of efforts of the Nigeria Police Force to speedily bring to an end the current internal security challenges facing the country.

From left, Minister for Defence, Alhaji Dan Ali; Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonishakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Policy and Plan, Nigerian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Emmanuel Achebi and the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Adamu during the special security meeting summoned by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida 09/05/2019

President Buhari gave the directive after meeting behind closed doors with heads of security agencies in the country at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ibok Ekwe-Ibas, said the number of kidnapping across the country has dropped.

Admiral Ibas said he and other security chiefs at the meeting briefed the President on the proliferation of small arms and what the various agencies were doing to curtail the consequences of the development.

He said the President directed them to ensure that security agencies “do much more to ensure that Nigerians go to bed and wake up feeling healthy and confident that their security is guaranteed.”

On the increase in kidnappings in the country, the Naval chief recalled that during the last security council meeting, the Inspector-General of Police was directed to ensure that the country was secured, adding that various operations were subsequently set up.

He said: “Operation Puff Adder’ was one of the strategies. With the set up of that operation, there has been a remarkable drop in the number of kidnappings. What normally would attract attention is when a key person in government is, perhaps, kidnapped.

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“On the whole, the number of kidnappings has dropped and generally I think the security situation is improving.”

On the kidnap of District Head of Daura, the President’s home town, Ekwe-Ibas said key suspects had been arrested.

‘’It is hoped that in a short while, those behind the heinous crime will be brought to book,” the Naval chief said.

The district head is also the father-in-law of the President’s Aide-de-Camp (ADC).

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Other security chiefs at the meeting with President Buhari were Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Yusuf Buratai and the Director of National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar were represented.

Also present were the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Director-General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi; Acting Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu; the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulraman Danbazzau, and the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali.

Meanwhile, Acting Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, yesterday, rolled out new counter-kidnapping operational strategies in continuation of efforts of the Nigeria Police Force to speedily bring to an end the current internal security challenges being experienced in some parts of the country.

The IGP’s assurance of improved security came as the Police yesterday rescued 27 kidnapped victims, including five Chinese nationals, from kidnappers den.

The new strategies, according to Force Public Relations Officer, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Frank Mba, are purposeful and intelligence-driven and are targeted at identifying, locating and dismantling kidnapping gangs across the nation and bringing the kidnappers and their collaborators to justice.

He said also that it was designed to complement and strengthen ‘Operation Puff Adder’ currently going on in several states of the federation.

“The operation will involve the deployment of undercover operatives, decoy operations and high-level tactical missions with active participation of operatives drawn from the conventional police units, the Force Intelligence Unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS), the Special Anti-kidnapping Squads and the Police Tactical Units comprising the Police Mobile Force (PMF), the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) and the Special Forces,” he stated.

Rescue of 27 kidnap victims, 5 Chinese nationals

Also, Police operatives from ‘Operation Puff Adder’ have rescued unhurt 27 kidnap victims, including five Chinese nationals.

Force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba said the Chinese citizens, who were earlier kidnapped on April 15, 2019, in Bobi, Niger State were successfully rescued on May 5, 2019, from a forest in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State, following painstaking investigative efforts, including both air and ground surveillance.

DCP Mba stated: “Two of the kidnappers died from injuries sustained during exchange of gun fire with the Police in the course of the rescue mission. 22 other kidnap victims were rescued in Zamfara State and other parts of the country.

“In addition, between January 2019 and the first week of May, 2019, a total of 270 suspected kidnappers were arrested, 275 suspected armed robbers were arrested and 105 assorted weapons and a large cache of ammunition were also recovered.

“The IGP, while commending the general public for their understanding and supports so far, reassures the Nation that the end to violent crimes and other sundry criminal activities is in sight. He promised that the Force under his leadership will continue to work with other relevant stakeholders to make Nigeria safer and better.”

Security experts speak

In another development, security experts in the country have reacted to the worsening security situation in the country, stating that the police should not be made a whipping child. In separate interviews, many of the experts stated that the Inspector-General of Police was struggling with inadequate manpower and terrible shortage of funds, while at the same time putting his best to improve the situation.

The National Coordinator of Network on Police Reform in Nigeria, NOPRIN, Okechukwu Nwanguma, said: “The security situation in Nigeria continues to deteriorate, in spite of the fact that fighting insecurity is one of the signature commitments of the Buhari administration.

“Despite the everyday mantra by the government that it has defeated or degraded Boko Haram, the terror group has continued to be on the prowl, killing citizens, including military and police operatives fighting the criminals.

“Kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry have become the everyday experience of Nigerians. Citizens pay ransom to free themselves from kidnappers because security agencies are unable to help them.

“In spite of the resources invested in fighting insecurity, safety and security remain the everyday experience  of Nigerians, amid allegations of corruption and lack of adequate modern equipment to confront criminals who are better equipped.

‘’Security agents deployed to fight crime have been seen on video complaining that they are sent on suicide mission.

“The declaration of a state of emergency in three states in the North by former President Jonathan and the subsequent directive by President Buhari on the Chief of Army Staff to relocate to the Northeast were clear indications that the police have since lost the capacity to deal with internal security.

‘’The military have also been suffering huge and unacceptable casualty in the fight against insurgency. Some personnel are deserting. Government needs to investigate the management of resources given to security agencies to fight crime to ensure that they have been applied to fighting crime. Allegations of corruption in the use of security funds should be investigated.”

A  retired Director with the DSS, Dennis Amachree, stated that IGP Mohammed Adamu could not have found a better audience in the senators of the Federal Republic, to put it on record that the major problems confronting the Police Force were shortage of funds, men and materials required to carry out the job.

Amachree said: “I agree with the IGP, who is struggling with inadequate manpower and recommend the following:  the size of the police force should be doubled using unemployed graduates roaming our streets; special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams should be trained across the country; all mobile policemen attached to politicians and other net-worth individuals should be withdrawn and deployed to keep society safe, while the legislators must be forced to drastically reduce their salaries and benefits to pay for all these.

“It is only then that the crime level will almost disappear in the country.  At present, there is high rate of insecurity in the country, almost every part of the country has a peculiar insecurity issue.

‘’In the north, it is Boko Haram, banditry and in the west, there is cultism, kidnapping, among others.’’

In his reaction,  Partrick Agbambu of Security Watch Africa stated: “First and foremost, the situation is neither beyond the government nor police. Secondly, this is not the first time Nigeria is going through the kind of security challenges and somehow we are handling the situation but that doesn’t mean we should just fold our arms and allow criminals and bandits make the country unsafe for innocent citizens. I believe we have capable hands to handle the situation.”

The Chief Executive officer, Strict Guard Security Limited,  Dr Bone Efoziem, told Vangaurd that the Nigerian Police was built on the basis of a reactionary force, responding to what has already happened.

“Now, the challenge of Nigeria has gone beyond what is happening or what has happened. The question should be, who is behind what is happening?   Is it actually on a religious basis? Is it actually on the basis of farmer-herders? Is it the issue of mining in Zamfara State or is it beyond that?

“Is there any political undertone? If there is, who and who can we trace this to, in terms of sponsorship, recruitment of foot soldiers?  Are these foot soldiers Nigerians? If they are not Nigerians, what is the link between who is behind them and what they are doing to Nigeria as a nation?

‘’If you check all these things, they are all functions of intelligence gathering. If you are going to look at what intelligence gathering is in Nigeria, you will know that the Police play a second fiddle in intelligence gathering. At this point, the agency to come to the fore is the Directorate of State Services, DSS.

“I wonder when people blame the Nigeria Police for not responding to what has happened. But nobody has asked why are there no intelligence gathering to know what has happened and what is about to happen.

‘’At present, the Nigerian Armed Forces are being demystified.  In the past, when you see a soldier come to a troubled zone, even if the soldier is not armed, the fact that he is there, there will be calm. But when they began to have cases of soldiers running from insurgents, they are demystifying the army, making it look so ordinary. We don’t need to talk about the Police again.’’

Parley with PSC

Meanwhile, the Police Service Commission, PSC, yesterday, received the acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and the management team of the Nigeria Police Force who came on a courtesy visit to the Commission and urged them not to be discouraged over the security situation in the country.

Chairman of the commission, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, a retired Inspector General of Police, x-rayed the nation’s current security challenges and what should be done to remedy the situation.

Alhaji Smith, while receiving the team, said the commission was aware of the state of insecurity in the country, but noted that the Inspector General and his management team should not be discouraged.

He said the commission was ready to assist in finding enduring solution to the security challenges in the country.

The meeting agreed on a reorganized and viable Federal High Way Patrol Team throughout the country; a review and withdrawal of excess and unauthorised police men seconded to some politicians and businessmen; inventory of arms and ammunition in police custody nationwide; introduction of voluntary community support officers in Nigerian communities and building of more barracks to instil discipline and make personnel available promptly for emergencies.

The PSC Chairman also hinted that the commission would soon set up an independent investigative unit to handle complaints against Police by members of the public, a development the Inspector General of Police said was a step in the right direction, so the Police do not constitute themselves into judges in their own cases.

He also called for detective training for serving police officers, regretting that many officers in the investigative units had never attended any detective courses.

Other areas of training he recommended were on proper weapon handling, handwriting analysts, ballistics intelligence gathering, among others.

The IGP in his response, lamented the current practice of not releasing fully approved allocations to the Force, stressing that only 20 per cent of its approved allocation was released in 2018.

He noted that the Force has, therefore, continued to battle with logistics problems, inadequate barracks, poor facilities at training colleges, epileptic communication network and grossly inadequate vehicles for effective policing.

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