•It is northern agenda – Retired Wing Cmdr Biakpara
•Exercise is routine – Senior police officer
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Jimitota Onoyume, Festus Ahon, Perez Brisibe, Ochuko Akuopha and Sunday Chancel
THERE were mixed reactions, last week, over the transfer of 62 southern police officers from the ranks of Superintendent of Police, SP, to Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, and including 15 Divisional Police Officers, DPOs, from Delta State Police Command to the northern part of the country.
Some affected officers suggested the exercise was part of a larger northern agenda.
Police authorities in the state declined comments on the redeployment, but a senior police officer explained: “Police officers could be transferred anytime to any place to work without notice.
“And none of the transferred officers has been replaced with police officers from the North as alleged.
“The truth is that Delta Command is over flooded with senior police officers and it is unfortunate that some persons are accusing the leadership of the Command of promoting northern agenda.
“What I can tell you is that the Commissioner of Police, Mr Hafiz Inuwa, is committed to the security of lives and property in the state irrespective of ethnic and religious leaning”.
The exercise is coming on the heels of sustained alleged herdsmen attacks in the state.
A recent report said herdsmen operating from 30 camps were terrorising Delta communities.
Speaking on the mass deployment, a retired senior security officer and elder statesman, Wing Cmdr Peter Y. Biakpara, said: “What is happening now is a premeditated, coordinated move over the years consistently working to an answer.
“Let me start my comment with the parable of a frog kept in a bowl of water and placed on a stove. As the water was getting warm, the frog was enjoying it.
“But unknown to the frog, as the water was getting warmer, the strength to jump out was waning.
“It got to a point when the water became too hot and there was no strength to jump out of it.
“In the same vein, by the time we know we are surrounded, just like the frog, we may not have the strength to resist because the security apparatuses will not help.
“My advice is that our leaders should borrow a leaf from the South-west by putting in place a counter measure.
“By the time herdsmen will strike and we run to the police, they wouldn’t help; the same when we run to the military.
“The governors of the South-South must make haste to set up a regional security outfit to counter the increasing security threat in the region.
“We should learn from what happened in Yoruba land. The Yoruba woke up to see that all their bushes had been taken over by herdsmen.
“This mass deployment is for a purpose and they are executing their northernization plans one after the other in the state”.
A retired police officer who also spoke on the controversy told Sunday Vanguard: “We must understand that Mr President after the death of Abba Kyari (Chief of Staff) is yet to trust anyone as his gatekeeper.
“The transfer is clear that he wants to have his men here. He knows he has the support of his northern brothers, so he posts them here and takes Delta and southern people to the North to control the state (Delta).
“It’s a way of watching his back. But as a retired police officer, I would think the action is for national unity. Policemen go round the country before retirement”.
A lawyer, Alhaji Mumaka Unagha, on his part, found the mass transfer ridiculous.
Unagba said: “If it is true that 62 police officers from the ranks of SP to CSP were deployed from Delta State Police Command and replaced by officers of northern extraction, then it is unimaginable.
“Is the action of the Inspector General of Police guided by the constitution? Well, perhaps the police authorities may have reason of doing so; if not, then there is an agenda to be carried out.
“Those officers could have been sent to the North-East and North-West where there are crises.
“In any case, what is the consideration or principle of flooding Delta State with police officers from the North?
“Nigeria is sinking because we have sacrificed merit in the name of quota system. Nigeria is still being governed on the basis of North and South dichotomy.
“I do not see any justification on the part of the Inspector of Police for posting officers mainly from North to Delta State.
“If we must be seen as one Nigeria, we should go to the drawing board by addressing issues begging for solution”.
Also speaking, Executive Director of Global Peace Development, a non-governmental organization, Mr Onajite Esike, said: “The Nigeria Police can actually transfer their officers for effectiveness.
“But the rationale for the officers’ transfer needs to be understood and evaluated alongside their states of origin. It is only then we can attribute whether or not it is an agenda intended to support herdsmen”.
Meanwhile, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, who spoke anonymously, described the mass transfer of police officers as routine deployment for effective delivery.
The ACP, one- time Police Area Commander for Ughelli Area Command, said: “This is just one of those operations to reshuffle men and re-strategize for effective delivery of the police which is a national entity.
“We are just privy to the deployment in the South here, or are you telling me that the officers are being deployed to implement a Christian agenda in the North as well?
“So, it is normal for someone from Kano to be transferred to Edo and the other way round. “This could either be owing to the need for less or optimal performances of the men in the respective regions or state commands.
“However, having gone through the transfer list in question, you will notice that some of the postings were taken to the Middle Belt and not the core North as being portrayed in the media.
“From my personal findings regarding the list, some of the officers have less than three years to retirement and, according to the Nigeria Police, a soon to retire officer is not normally deployed to his state of origin when he has less than three years to retire”.
Executive Director of Community Development Advocacy Foundation, CODAF, a non-governmental organization, Mr. Richard Benin, contributing to the issue, said, “I see it as a professional error or a calculated one for the IGP to replace superintendents of the South-South states with northerners in these uncertain times when Nigeria is faced with so many security challenges of which herdsmen is the predominant one in the South-South.
“These security challenges have made Nigerians to yearn for community policing, which seems more effective.
“Regrettably, the IGP thinks otherwise. His action has further boosted the suspicion of the average Nigerian from the South-South that this administration has northernization agenda.
“How do you expect someone who has no adequate knowledge of a particular region to effectively and optimally carry out his duty to safeguard lives and property?
“The attitude of unceremoniously redeploying police commissioners every now and then has unconsciously increased the level of insecurity in our states.
“For instance, Delta State alone has had three or more police commissioners from 2019 till date. How do you effectively manage crime in a state with such rampant change?
“As a matter of urgency, the IGP should disabuse the minds of Nigerians by rescinding his redeployment of these police officers and concern himself on how to introduce new policies to strengthen the police for Nigerians to have confidence in the institution”.
On his part, Secretary of the Ndokwa National Youth Movement, NNYM, Comrade Presley Idi, said: “Originally, we had no problem with the transfer of the DPOs mostly of southern descent from Delta.
“Our greatest concern, however, is that they were all mostly replaced with officers of northern extraction.
“At this point, we do not want to speculate or think that there are hidden motives behind the transfers, but with our history of how notorious herdsmen operate, taking into account the most recent of those attacks carried out in Uhweru a community in Ughelli North, we have cause to be concerned.
“We know the synergy that mostly exist between the Fulani man, no matter the office or perceived differences, there always seems to be a level of understanding but this time we hope we are proven wrong.
“The police force is the last resort of the common man in terms of fighting crime in the society and should there be any compromise, the lives of our people will be in grave danger.
“While we welcome them with open arms, we enjoin and task them to serve honorably without bias, as their actions and inaction will affect the lives of our people a great deal”.