By Prisca Sam-Duru
In spite of the abundance of talents and human resource within the Nigeria Police force, it has constantly struggled to surmount the challenges posed by the need to provide security for a growing population of about 200 million.
With each passing day, crimes such as kidnapping, terrorism, banditry, online fraud, cybercrime, human trafficking, cultism, ritual killings, politically motivated uproars, arms trafficking, armed robbery, gun running, arms struggle for territorial control among militia groups and herdsmen and communal assaults, take innovative forms, thus, greatly increasing the job of the Police.
The task of ensuring a safer country fell on Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, NPM, MNI who was at the time, an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and Directing Staff at the National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). By his appointment on January 15, 2019, as the Inspector-General of Police by the Federal Government, Adamu succeeded IGP Ibrahim Idris.
Considering how hectic the job of policing a complex country such as Nigeria is, it may not be out of place to say that IGP Adamu could be smiling to himself at the moment, knowing that his tenure as the 20th IGP of Nigeria, may end soon.
“You cannot be an Inspector-General of Police of a big country like Nigeria and say that you want to relax. Probably when you go on a foreign assignment, you go for a meeting or conference, maybe if the meeting takes place between 4-5 hours, you’ll have some hours to go and rest but if you are within the country, now way. Which relaxation? There is no relaxation”, he said during an earlier interview.
IGP Adamu took the mantle of leadership during the period of the General elections, and knowing how crucial such period was in our national history, he went straight to work.
“When we came in, it was a period that there was going to be general election in 2019, so we were faced with that challenge and it was a period that the morale of the personnel in the police was low; the officers themselves were kind of infiltrated by politicians and we thought that it’ll be dangerous if we didn’t work to change the morale of our personnel before the general election.
“So we had to embark on the identification of those that were disenchanted, those that were lackadaisical in approach to their duties, and those that were ready to compromise. We had to work on them and get them back on board before the general election and then we had to go into serious training and retraining of personnel so that everything we did during that period would be professional”, he explained.
The rise in crime and criminality in some parts of the country as well as high level of insecurity whereby kidnappers and bandits operated at will especially in the north-western part of the country led Adamu and his men to strategise, resulting in bringing the situation under control in some places. The situation birthed the forum that gave people a sense of responsibility when it comes to security matters rather than leaving the job for law enforcement agents.
In addition to issues of crime and insurgency, occasional cases of indiscipline by a few officers and men, coupled with perceived high-handedness of some members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), made the IGP’s job, a very difficult one as they became the subject of concern within and outside government circles and threatened to tarnish the public image of the Force. This, however, had been on long before he came on the scene as IG.
On how he was able to deal with the issue of SARS which was one of the first major issues he inherited, he said, “I think the challenge then was that Special Anti-Robbery Squad was centralized and controlled from Force Headquarters Abuja and that generated a lot of challenges with the citizens and when we came on board, we knew that localizing SARS would be more effective and beneficial in fighting crime. So, we decentralized it and asked the Commissioners of Police to be in charge within their own localities and I think that paid off.”
During the nationwide protest in October 2020, where members of the public demanded that SARS be totally scrapped, IGP Adamu was said to have held meetings with youth representatives, celebrities, activists and other stakeholders to proffer solutions to the demands of protesting youths.
Following the outcome of the meeting, he moved to restructure that section of the Force to optimize discipline and its operational effectiveness. When this solution was received wrongly by the public, IGP Adamu heeded to their demand and disbanded the Unit.
Also, the Police were one of the front liners curtailing the Corona Virus outbreak. They played a major role in enforcing the lockdown directives imposed by the Government and securing the lives and properties of Nigerians during the period. The IGP provided a handbook for Policemen that outlined the Guidelines for Policing during the COVID-19 Emergency period.
On handling issues relating to rape, IGP Adamu, hinted that the Nigeria Police from January to May 2020 recorded about 717 rape incidents that were reported across the country. About 799 suspects were arrested, 631 cases conclusively investigated and charged to court and 52 cases were under investigation.
In order to holistically deal with security situation or crimes and criminalities within the country after the north western Zonal Security Summit, Adamu embarked on security summit in all the geo-political zones in the country. Each Geo-political zone identified their security problems and challenges while it was collectively agreed on how to deal with them.
IGP Adamu has attributed some of his successes to his ability to change the psychic of officers to new strategy he brought on board as well as initiation of “Operation Puff Adder”.
“When we came on board we knew what was happening in this country. Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna all had issues- issue of farmers-herders conflict, and kidnappings. So in addition to community policing, we came up with “Operation Puff Adder”, which was only targeted at kidnappers, and bandits.
Operation Puff Adder according to him, has been able to sanitize various states and “its structure of operation is not only one unit of police but we have the Mobile, the IRT, the STS, the CTU all combined to make sure that we don’t give breathing space to these bandits and kidnappers and criminals”.
In spite of the ever present challenge of funds which has always been an issue even to his predecessors, Adamu is proud to have recorded a good number of feats, thanks to the government which provided vehicles, APCs and Riot equipment.
Another secret of his success is that, “Since we came on board we made sure that no officer is short-changed. Before you are posted for any special duty, we make sure we make provision for your allowances, so that you don’t go there and become a problem and when you perform gallantly in the field, we motivate you in diverse ways. We’ve also ensured that those due for promotion are promoted. We don’t joke with the morale of the personnel that is why we are getting the successes we are recording”. In all, the promotion of about 16,618 officers has taken place under his administration, based on merit and seniority.
Some other achievements include; the institution of special constabulary to fight crime at the local level; receipt of presidential approval for major reforms in the Nigeria Police Force while Zonal Command structure of the police was increased from 12 to 17.
Under his watch, a new directorate was created out of the FCID under a Deputy Inspector General of Police, as well as other platforms and centres that enabled intense war against crime in parts of the country.
He also prioritized capacity building and training for officers and men of the Force and oversaw the establishment of National Institute of Police Studies, Lifecamp, Abuja.
IGP Adamu who is fondly called ‘Adamu Lafia’ by his friends, was born in Lafia town, the capital of Nasarawa State on September 17, 1961.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and a Master’s degree in International Criminal Justice System from the University Of Portsmouth, United Kingdom.
After his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), he had a brief stint in teaching and rose to the position of a Vice Principal before enlisting in the Nigeria Police Force as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1986.
He was trained at the famous Police College Ikeja, Lagos, after which he served in many capacities across the country, dealing with the job of policing as Divisional Police officer (DCO) Mgbidi Police Station, Imo State, Administrative Officer, General Investigation, Crime Intelligence and others.
A believer in Nigeria, Adamu represented his country by distinguishing himself through hard work and attention to details as a specialized operative at INTERPOL’s Economic and Financial Crimes Department. His professionalism and investigative competence resulted in his appointment as Director in INTERPOL’s Sub-Directorate in which capacity he served between 1997 and 2002.
Adamu later became the first ever African to be appointed Assistant Director in charge of African Sub-Directorate from 2002-2005 and again the first African in the history of INTERPOL to serve as Director.
It is not yet certain on whom next, the baton falls on after February but one thing is sure, the next IGP has a huge task of controlling crime and insecurity in a country in recession amidst very high level of poverty, unemployment and youth over dependence on hard drugs.