By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
There were echoes of war in the South East before he was appointed the Acting Inspector-General of Police. The situation was such that policemen went about their lawful duties in mufti.
They were also restricted in areas of operation as a result of attacks from gun men who invaded police stations, set them on fire, killed and maimed officers and men.
Usman Baba Alkali had his first baptism of fire at the Police headquarters in Imo state. The hoodlums had attacked the nearby correctional center, released incarcerated criminals and set the place on fire. Thereafter, they invaded the nearby Police Command headquarters and unleashed mayhem. Not done, they also wrought more havoc by burning adjoining buildings in the area. Shockingly, they operated freely for hours in an area surrounded with security men including the police.
The hoodlums then proceeded to the home of the governor of Imo state, Hope Uzodinmma, burnt his cars and part of his magnificent palatial home and killed the policemen who were on official duty there. Tragically, the ugly trend continued with more killings, looting and burning of police formations including the newly established Zone 13, Ukpo in Anambra state.
There were also pockets of attacks at police formations and stations in Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and other states in the South East. In fact, the then Inspector general of Police, Adamu Muhammed went to Imo state to see things for himself before he retired while Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, Usman Baba Alkali was announced as the Acting IGP on 7th April, 2021.
Upon his assumption of duties, Alkali took the bull by the horn by effecting changes in the leadership of the police in the areas with a view to strengthening their workforce and putting a permanent stop to the horrific stories being told from the east.
The changes manifested in the immediate posting of commissioner of Police, Christopher A. Owolabi as the new Commissioner of Police (CP) in charge of Anambra State Police Command. Acting IGP alkali stated unequivocally that the deployment of the new CP was part of the ongoing efforts at re-ordering, overhauling and strengthening the security and policing architecture in Anambra State and other states of the South-East and South-South geo-political zones of the country.
This, according to him, was ultimately designed to improve the operational efficiency of the command and enhance public safety and security. CP Chris Owolabi took over from CP Monday Bala Kuryas, who was redeployed to the Anti-Fraud Section of the Force Headquarters Annex, Lagos.
In a similar vein, the IGP ordered the posting of other strategic and tactical commanders within the zones. A total of two Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs), 14 Assistant Commissioners of Police and other mid-level officers were affected.
He charged the new Commissioner of Police in Anambra State to take adequate measures in consolidating and improving on the gains of his predecessor and further charged the CP to rejig the security apparatus of the state, harness the full potential of the command – its workforce, assets and stakeholders – in advancing the collective safety of all citizens.
The IGP equally enjoined the people of South-East and South-South zones to cooperate with the police and other security agencies to enable them succeed in the responsibilities of safeguarding them. Also, IGP Alkali ordered the posting of CP Abutu Yaro to Imo State as the new Commissioner of Police. CP Yaro was the immediate Commissioner of police in Zamfara state where banditry was raging and he was reputed to have put in his best in tackling the issue. His posting to Imo state was in furtherance of efforts by the Police leadership towards strengthening security, tackling violent crimes and enhancing optimal coordination of policing operations within the state and beyond.
While the postings were taking place with firm promise of effecting more, the police in Ebonyi state intercepted 753 high caliber GPMG ammunition and recovered two AK47 rifles, five Pump Action Guns, six pistols and other weapons from Abakaliki.
The recovery which was made possible by the new security architecture set up by the Acting IGP assisted police in the area to intercept the ammunitions concealed in a sack being transported in a commercial vehicle from Abakaliki, Ebonyi State to Umuahia in Abia State.
The intelligence-driven covert operation, which led to the interception and recovery of the deadly ammunition, was part of efforts by the force to identify and crack down on criminal networks and supply chains for weapons and ammunition in and around the country.
Based on the new operational policy and tactical approach as directed by IGP Alkali, Enugu state police command, also swooped on the den of suspected kidnappers and killed a yet-to-be-identified suspects along Udi-Oji River Road during a gun duel with officers attached to Udi police division. The command also arrested one 26-year-old Samuel Felix suspected to be an armed robber along Akwuke Road, Gariki, Enugu.
Police sources said the operations were carried out in synergy with the personnel of the vigilante groups in the said locations, adding that two cut-to-size locally-made double barrel guns, charm and other exhibits were recovered during the operations.
It was gathered that irked by the prevailing security situation in the country, the IGP has also directed all Commissioners of Police to stop collecting bribe or mounting road blocks in order to make money.
He also charged them to ensure that policemen under their respective commands do not violate the law of the land where they were serving assuring that he was ready to fight, protect and assist hardworking officers and men who do not depend on money collected from road block and other practices which can tarnish the image of the force.
While charging the newly posted officers to bring to bear their professional experience in improving policing and restoring public confidence in their new places of assignment, he assured citizens of the determination of the force under his leadership to upscale its operations, improve public safety and tackle all forms of crimes in the country.
The new IGP, who is the 21st indigenous Inspector General of Police, a fellow of the National Defence College hails from Geidam in Yobe state. He was commissioned into the Nigeria Police Force on 15th March, 1988 as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police at the Nigeria Police Academy (Annex), Kaduna. He holds a Masters degree in Public Administration (MPA) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.
An astute crime-fighter and versatile manager of men and resources, he has held several strategic positions in the past cutting across all the departments of the Force. These include: Ag. Deputy Inspector-General of Police in-charge of the Department of Finance and Administration, the Force Secretary, Assistant Inspector-General of Police in-charge of Zone-5 Benin, Zone-4 Makurdi and Zone-7 Abuja. He was also a former Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Delta Commands amongst others.