…Hoodlums kill 93 policemen, destroy 232 police stations
…31,478 suspects arrested, 164,634 arms ammunition recovered
…121,051 personnel promoted
By Evelyn Usman
On January 15, 2019, IGP Adamu Mohammed assumed office as the 20th indigenous Inspector-General of Police, replacing Ibrahim Kpotum Idris.
He met a Force that had been under pressure from an avalanche of challenges beyond its own capabilities.
To address these challenges among which were insecurity in all regions of the country and human rights abuses by security personnel, he hit the ground running by introducing policies and strategies aimed at repositioning the force on a right path.
On 5th April, 2019, Mohammed introduced Operation Puff Adder, a robust security action plan with a clear mandate to enhance inter-agency collaborations and curb the excesses of criminal elements hell-bent on threatening internal security across the Federation.
To this end, over 31, 478 notorious criminal suspects were arrested , for offences ranging from kidnapping, armed robbery, murder, cultism, banditry and other violent crimes.
Also, 5,526 sophisticated and locally fabricated firearms and two rocket launchers, including 159,108 large catchment of live ammunition were recovered from the suspects.
In addition, 2,345 kidnapped victims were safely rescued and reunited with their families and 2,670 stolen vehicles recovered and returned to the real owners.
These arrests and recoveries were made between the time Mohammed assumed office as the number one cop in Nigeria and February, 15, 2021, when he was two years in office.
Shortly after he came on board Mohammed promised to provide a level playing field for all political parties and their candidates during the 2019 general elections.
To many , that promise of a hitch-free and successful policing of the electoral process was kept to the letter. This was reportedly evident in some states where members of opposition parties floored their rivals from the ruling All Progressive Congress ,APC.
Under Mohammed’s watch, the National Assembly was successfully galvanized for the landmark passage and assent of the Nigeria Police Force Act, 2020 and subsequently, the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari.
By the way, the Nigeria Police Force Act, 2020 provides the framework for the Police Force and ensures cooperation and partnership between the Police and host communities in maintaining peace, combating crime, protecting liberties, life and property; and for related matters.
On the other hand, the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act will substantially improve the funding regime and address the logistics and operational gaps that have over the years, been hindering the optimal service delivery of the Nigeria Police Force.
Other Bills such as :the Nigeria Police Academy Establishment Bill, Nigeria Police Colleges Bill and the National Institute of Police Studies Bill, which are critical to the enhancement of professionalism and operational capacity of the Force, were being facilitated by Adamu, before the announcement of his replacement came.
Disbandment of SARS
Before his assumption in office, there had been clamour for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad , SARS, by Nigerians, as its operatives were accused of turning the unit into torture chamber just to extract truth out of suspects, in the process of which some of them were killed.
Operatives were also accused of turning the unit into a money spinning machine where suspects were forced to cough out huge amount of money before they would be granted bail, a situation that became a national embarrassment as Nigerian youths were routinely arrested for frivolous reasons .
On October 11, 2020, Adamu, finally gave a nod of approval by dissolving the Special Anti-Robbery Squad,SARS across the 36 State Police Commands and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, describing the move as part of the Force reorganization for improved service delivery and respect for the yearnings of the citizens for a Police Force that holds their rights sacred.
In his bid to further entrench community policing standards and strengthen the criminal intelligence capacity of the Force towards bringing policing closer to the people, Adamu successfully got the approval of the President for the upgrade of the Force Intelligence Bureau to a full-fledged Department, headed by a Deputy Inspector General of Police.
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There was also the decentralization of the Force Criminal Investigation Department with the establishment of new annex offices in Gombe and Enugu, in addition to the existing ones in Lagos and Kaduna.
Five new zonal commands which increased the zonal commands to 17, were also created.
One of the feats recorded during his two years and two months reign in office, was the arrest and prosecution of some suspects in a 15-man kidnap gang of Nigerian/Nigerien extraction, allegedly led by Barte Dan Alhaji and Dan Buda, as well as the dismantling of many international smuggling syndicates.
Adamu was said to have also initiated several welfare programs for personnel; both serving and retired. For instance, his administration was said to have among other things succeeded in securing the approval of the Federal Government for the ‘Police Retirees National Health Insurance Scheme’,NHIS.
Until this approval was secured, all retiring police officers were delisted from the NHIS and left forlornly to address their health needs upon retirement.
He was said to have also restored the promotion policy that was based on the principle of merit and seniority in the Force, a move adjudged to have assisted in addressing anxiety and accompanying negative impact on productivity.
In the past two years, a total of 121,051 personnel of the Force were promoted to their next ranks.
Despite these impressive feats, killings of policemen and other security agents as well as attacks on Police formations reached its peak during his tenure.
For the first time in the history of Nigeria, hoodlums and criminals brazenly displayed total disregard for constituted authorities by taking the war to police stations.
The first incident that signalled a worrisome dimension to the level of insecurity and seeming lack of confidence on security agents ,was the attacks on police stations by hoodlums who hijacked the EndSARS protest.
At the end of the monumental massacre , 22 policemen were extra-judicially killed by the rampaging protesters and scores injured, with many of the injured personnel in life-threatening conditions at the hospitals.
Two hundred and five police stations and formations including other critical private and public infrastructure were also damaged by the rampaging hoodlums.
The attacks also revealed some anomalies’ on the security architecture of the Police, their level of preparedness for the unexpected and proactive measures.
Aside the killings and destruction during the EndSARS saga, record further showed that not less than 67 security agents, had been killed by gunmen and 25 police stations burnt in the South East and South South regions alone, between December 2020 and April 5,2021.
A breakdown of this figure showed that 62 of them were policemen, four were Naval personnel while one was a prison warden.
There was a similar incident at the Divisional Police Headquarters at Igueben, Edo State , last November, where some policemen were shot and a number of arms and ammunitions carted away.
This happened barely one year after the Divisional Police Headquarters, Afuze in the Owan East Local Government Area of Edo State was invaded by armed men. The Divisional Police Officer, the crime officer and two other policemen were killed in the process.
Before Adamu’s removal from office yesterday, there had been calls from different quarters that he was billed for retirement, having attained the mandatory 35 years of service.
For the record, Adamu Mohammed joined the Nigeria Police Force on February 1, 1986 and was expected to retire by February 1, 2021.
However, his tenure was extended by President Buhari , for three months, a decision he explained, was to allow for a robust and efficient process of appointing his successor.
Unfortunately, he did conclude the three months extension, as news of his replacement came while he was in Imo State to have an on-the- spot assessment of the Imo State Police Command headquarters and the Nigerian Correctional Services, which were blown up by armed men, Monday.
Task before the new IGP
With the announcement of DIG Usman Alkali Baba, as the new IGP in acting capacity, it is expected that the security architecture of the Police will be revamped and the Police Force positioned to take its place as the leading security agency in a democratic setting.
Major areas to look into should include : identifying perpetrators of attacks and killings of policemen in the South –East and South South regions of the country and their subsequent arrest, before it escalates to other regions.
The issue of kidnapping, armed banditry, among other acts of criminalities should also be looked into, with a view to ensuring the safety of Nigerians.