It is no longer news that Nigeria has been bedeviled by one act of criminality or the other. But what is news is the strategy put in place to tackle this worrisome development and how well the strategy has played out.
Results of the crime mapping showed that in the South–East and South-South regions, activities of secessionist groups and coordinated and violent attacks on security personnel, their formations, and critical national infrastructure such as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC offices, hold sway.
In addition to this worrisome development are Farmers/herders clashes, proliferation of weapons, and cultism.
In the South West, kidnapping, bank robbery, farmers/herders clashes as well arms proliferation prevail, while banditry, attacks on schools and abduction of students, highway robberies, activities of Boko Haram and the Islamic State West African Province ,ISWAP ,communal clashes, proliferation of arms and farmers-herders clash are prevalent in the North West, North East and North central regions.
The outcome of the onslaughts of these criminal activities have resulted in the wanton destruction of lives and properties.
IGP Baba appointment
Determined to address the insecurity in the country, the Inspector- General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba , on assumption of office on April 7, 2021, went back to the drawing board with members of his management team, to assess the trend and pattern of crimes and other security issues across the country.
To address Nigerians yearning for a peaceful society, he and his management team conceptualized a new policing mission, vision, and operational agenda aimed at guiding policing services, reclaiming the public space from criminal elements, protecting the citizens with courage, and serving the country with compassion.
It is exactly two months since IGP Baba came into the exalted office of the number one policeman in Nigeria. Crime Guard, decides to take cursory efforts into the security situation in the country and also to use the template of the IGP’s strategic policing plan to analyze the extent to which he and his management team have gone in the journey towards realigning the Nigeria Police to citizens expectations.
Statistics at our disposal showed that 943 suspects that have been terrorizing the nation were arrested in the last two months.
A breakdown of the figure showed that 770 of them were high profile suspects comprising bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers, arrested during various operations conducted by operatives of the Nigeria Police.
One hundred and seventy-three of them were bandits arrested in a major anti-banditry operation in collaboration with the Nigerian Armed Forces and the local community. Most of the arrests were effected in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
A total of 152 kidnapped victims among who were abducted students from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Kaduna, were rescued and reunited with their families within the period under review. Recovered were 276 assorted firearms and 16,515 rounds of ammunition of different caliber.
Also in an attempt to contain separatists agenda in the country, statistics made available to Crime Guard showed that the Police had neutralized the suspected Commander of the IPOB/ ESN popularly known as “Ikonson Commander” and his deputy, in separate joint operations with the Army and the Department of State Service, DSS and one Joseph Uka Nnachi popularly known as ‘Dragon’ an acclaimed Commander of the armed wing of IPOB that reportedly took over after the demise of Ikonson Commander.
Records also revealed that weapons recovered during direct confrontation with the secessionist groups included two General-Purpose Machine Guns,22 AK-47 rifles, 14 Pump Action rifles, six pistols, nine locally fabricated rifles and eight locally fabricated pistols.
Others were 26 AK-47 magazines ,753 GPMG live ammunition ,2549 rounds of live Ammunition ,16 Improvised explosive Devices,IEDs, Camouflage, bullet proof vests, walkie talkies with IPOB insignia, charms and other incriminating items.
Our efforts (South East)
Explaining how the Police are tackling insecurity in the country, the IGP disclosed that a new special operation code named ‘Operation Restore Peace’ was launched on May 19,2021, with the aim to restore peace and constitutional order in the South-East and South-South zones.
He said that the High Command was carrying out Operational Needs Assessment which would be flagged off in other states and regions, as a national approach to roll back the increasing wave of crimes, breakdown of law and order and lawlessness.
Also he said , there had been mass mobilization and deployment of operational assets including the Police Air Wing, Marine, and the Explosive Ordnance Department among others, in the region, in addition to expanding a well-coordinated intelligence-led operations to confront armed secessionist groups through enhanced intelligence gathering efforts and utilization capacity.
The Police according to him, also explored the strategy of enhanced intelligence sharing through strengthening inter-agency collaboration with the Military, DSS and other security agencies , as well as the reinforcement of police commands in the South-East and South-South regions with special deployment of police personnel and intelligence operatives such as the Police Mobile Force, Police Special Forces, Intelligence Response Team,IRT and the Special Tactical Squad,STS.
In a move to contain the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in the country, the Police boss informed that the High command had embarked on deliberate and well-coordinated nationwide mop-up of illicit weapons to contain the trend and had also identified and raided factories where assault rifles and ammunition were manufactured locally, citing the recent smashing of a syndicate which had its local fabrication enclave is in Jos, Plateau State, as an example.
Furthermore, he said they were identifying and blocking weapon supply chains in and around the country, boasting that the measure had started yielding results following the arrest and recovery of several sophisticated and locally fabricated firearms and ammunition.
Despite the IGP’s strategic policing plan and police efforts, it is obvious that the Police lacked adequate manpower as well as state- of- the art equipment to tackle the present state of insecurity in the country.
For instance, checks by Crime Guard revealed that at least 65 percent of vehicles in police divisions across the country are in deplorable states, thereby overburdening the few available functional ones.
Also with the destruction of police formations during the hijacked endsars protest and the latest onslaught on police stations in the South-East and South-South, there has been a major setback in the police, owing to the colossal loss of lives and major assets including weapons which were barely being managed.
In the area of manpower, there is a dearth of manpower, especially the Rank and File (ranks between Constable and Inspector) who are the major foot soldiers. At the moment, Police commands nationwide have pegged down inter-state transfer of these Rank and File .
To address these challenges, immediately he was appointed the IGP, Baba, paid a visit to the office of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, which was established to provide funds for training and retraining of police personnel, provide them with state-of-the-art security equipment, improve the general welfare of personnel and enhance their preparedness and overall improvement of their efficiency.
Recently, he gave two water cannons to the Lagos State Police Command to fight crime in the largest command in the country.
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Unfortunately, the Command boss, CP Hakeem Odumosu, during the IGP’s maiden visit to Lagos, Wednesday, said the command needed additional 13 Water Cannons, each, for the 13 Area Commands, with at least five gunboats, for the 14th Area Command, (Area “L” Ilase’), which is situated along riverine areas of the State, to police and secure the waterways.
In addition, was the request for two Police Helicopters to assist in fortifying the aerial patrol/surveillance of the Command with a view to tackling some of the crimes being experienced in the state and by extension, in the South West.
While assuring officers and men of the Lagos State Police Command that measures were on ground to address the prevailing challenges, during his maiden visit, the IGP promised to release more crime fighting equipment to the command to boost its arsenal and promote public safety in Lagos State.
But he warned them never to allow hoodlums to overrun them or their stations again. Rather, he urged them to improve in the area of crowd control, riot management and the use of firearms in accordance with the acceptable norms of discharging their constitutional duties.
He said: “Never again should we allow our stations and our personnel to be overrun to the extent that we would not be able to handle situations that can easily be handled because of lack of professionalism, cowardice or whatever.
“The service can no longer tolerate acts of indiscipline which is not known to us. We must do the needful to be able to carry on with our job”.
“With the little resources we have and personnel, we are going to do our job with determination and professionalism. Measures are being taken to address the need of the Police.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the personnel and recruitment into the force of all cadres will very soon be in force and for our equipment and working tools, we just started taking delivery of some riot equipment, vehicles and other fundamental tools from the Police Trust Fund”, he stated.
On his part, he promised to improve the welfare of personnel and also focus on barracks rehabilitation and housing schemes where policemen would retire to, after service.
He added that training and retraining of personnel was paramount on his agenda, even as he urged supervising officers to adopt the carrot and stick approach for their subordinates.
Reminding officers and personnel that the bedrock of the Nigeria Police was discipline, he urged officers to imbibe self discipline before demanding the same from their subordinates.
At the end of his three-day visit to Lagos, from where he left for the Ogun State Police command, in addition to other states commands earlier visited, it is expected that the Police boss will take expedite action at ensuring that all state commands are equipped with sophisticated weapons that surpass those of enemies of the country, as well finding a lasting solution to the killings of policemen and destruction of police formations and by extension, return the country to a tranquil state.