Mohammed Abubakar, the acting inspector-general of police, may need to rid the force of subversive elements working with Boko Haram
Although Hafiz Ringim has been removed as the inspector general, IG, of police, he is still in the eye of the storm. More than a dozen heavily armed policemen positioned at strategic locations still guard his private residence in Kano. The entire NNDC Street where his house is located has been barricaded against vehicular traffic, only pedestrians are allowed to walk through.
Attempts by the magazine to interview him was unsuccessful last week when TELL visited his residence. Policemen manning the barricades told the magazine there was nobody inside the sprawling house. They could not tell the magazine where the former IG and his family had gone but sources close to him hinted that he had travelled to London with his family. It may be a wise decision after all to travel to a faraway country where Boko Haram may have a hard time tracking him.
But it is not only the former IG that is afraid of Boko Haram. Roads leading to most police stations in the North have been blocked in obvious response to attacks by the militant Islamic sect determined to wage war against security agencies and churches in the country. Motorists and pedestrians are forced to divert to other lanes. Motorists or motorcyclists who prove stubborn are arrested and detained until someone comes for their bail.
It is a telling irony that the police that are supposed to protect lives and property of Nigerians are now forced to concentrate its resources on self-protection. But fresh facts have emerged to show that the enemy may not just be in some distant location of Boko Haram hideout, but also among some unscrupulous officers of the police force.
A meeting of northern state governors called by Namadi Sambo, vice president, was reportedly scandalised by reports of police complicity in some of the attacks carried out by Boko Haram. The meeting which held on Thursday from 10:00 pm till about 2:00 am was told how police officers of some state commands connived with the militants.
In Kano for instance, where a recent deadly attack of the sect killed over 186 people, including members of the police, immigration and State Security Services, SSS, the police was said to have been privy to intelligence report about the attack. Rabiu Kwankwaso, governor of the state, allegedly told his colleagues and Sambo that the police were aware the attacks would take place but kept the information, and did not take precautionary measures that could have saved many lives. Instead, the police gave the impression that they were caught unawares.
The SSS, on the other hand, which was also a target of the attacks, was well prepared for the attack. Its snipers, stationed at strategic points within the premises of the organisation’s headquarters at Ginginyun, were able to take out the suicide bombers from Boko Haram before they could reach their target. The magazine also gathered that some of the officers living in the police barracks at the Bompai headquarters had relocated their families before the last attack took place. Although some said it was due to previous threats by Boko Haram to attack police formations in the state, the magazine reliably learnt that some officers of the command were said to have known in advance the date, time and how the attacks would take place, and had alerted some of their colleagues to relocate.
However, the top echelon of the police appeared not to have joined in the frenzied attempt to preserve themselves and their family members. Rather, the magazine learnt that they decided to prepare officers and the other ranks for the anticipated battle. That is why the authorities are said to be probing into the level of commitment of some police personnel. Ibrahim Idris, the state commissioner of police, and Mohammed Abubakar, the assistant inspector general, AIG, of police in charge of Zone 1, were either not in the know or chose to play dumb. The two were in their offices when the attackers struck. Abubakar was said to have sustained injuries while trying to escape, and was hospitalised after the attacks. His aides evacuated his family through the back exit of his Kano residence shortly before the gunmen arrived the house.
Investigations by the magazine in Kano showed that apart from civilians, the police suffered the largest casualties in the attack. Although Idris said 29 policemen died in the attack, investigations by the magazine showed that the police might have lost more than that. TELL gathered that many police personnel at the headquarters of the Kano State Command at Bompai were killed while trying to escape the gunfire.
An officer who survived the attack told the magazine: “We were caught off-guard, but some officers bravely faced the attackers including the commissioner of police who came out of his office with an automatic gun and was firing. But some officers tried to run away and jumped the fence to the other side. But they didn’t know that Boko Haram members were waiting to ambush them at the back. The station was surrounded.”
In Gombe where suspected members of the sect were recently reported to have burgled a police armoury, it was discovered that some police officers knew about the burglary. Ibrahim Dankwabo, governor of the state, while giving the security situation in his state, said the stolen weapons were found in the desert where they were buried. It was considered particularly strange that the site was identified by some police officers, allegedly without a tip off.
In some police commands in the North, many policemen who are from the South are seeking to relocate because some of their northern colleagues reportedly reveal the identities of those of them who succeed in arresting members of the militant group, thus endangering their lives.
Some of the governors are also said to have complained that some unscrupulous policemen were aggravating the security situation in the country by sponsoring attacks, knowing that would be blamed on Boko Haram.The reason for this is unclear. But sources within the police suspect that it may be the handiwork of those against the leadership of Ringim.
TELL was told that Ringim was not liked by many of his former colleagues. Many in the police force, including the rank and file, allegedly celebrated his exit. Will the situation repeat itself under Mohammed Abubakar, the acting IG? That remains to be seen. Apart from the problem of lack of loyalty in the force, the governors also have some other challenges.
Most of them complained about being handicapped when it comes to controlling the police since it is a federal force, which takes it orders from the force headquarters in Abuja. Governor Kwankwaso in a recent interview with the magazine in Kano, said the police do not take directives from him, so he could not be blamed for the lapses of the force. Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State had also in the past complained of similar handicap over the protracted crisis in his state.
Many governors have also complained that they may be the chief security officer of their states, but in reality, they do not have the power to control any of the security agencies. This is why some governors and other Nigerians have advocated the establishment of state police. Last week, Umaru Shinkafi, former director-general of the defunct National Security Organisation, NSO, added his voice to the growing list of advocates of state police.
In a statement he issued in Abuja, he said creation of state police had become a “sheer necessity” in view of unprecedented threats to national security posed by Boko Haram. He said it would enable state governors take charge of the affairs of their states in practical terms, adding that the level and impact of accountability and transparency in law enforcement and investigation would be “substantial and evident.” He said the current arrangement where the states are made to be responsible, in large part, for the operational logistics of the police without corresponding authority on the police was unfair.
But before the dream of state police becomes a reality, governors in the North are finding ways of policing their states. The magazine was reliably informed that the governors have decided on a number of measures to check the menace of Boko Haram.
One of these is to engage the cooperation of traditional rulers in monitoring their neighbourhoods. As moral custodians of the people, the traditional rulers would be asked to report anybody who wants to rent a house or who is a visitor in their neighbourhood. Thus, a potential tenant would first be reported to the authorities before being allocated an apartment.
Religious leaders would also be required to acquire preaching licences henceforth to enable the authorities monitor them and check seditious evangelism. This idea was first mooted by the Borno State government in 2009 after federal forces attacked the headquarters of Boko Haram in Maiduguri and destroyed the sect’s mosque. But the government of Ali Modu Sheriff, former governor of the state, lacked the political will to implement it. Perhaps, now that it is being proposed for the whole of northern region, the governors may find the courage to implement it.
A special court on terrorism is also being proposed for all states in the North to make prosecution of suspects and dispensation of justice faster. It is expected to prevent the current situation where suspects are taken to Abuja and held indefinitely without trial.
Attorneys general and commissioners for justice in the 19 northern states are expected to meet in Katsina in the coming weeks to brainstorm on laws that would make the measures realisable.
Analysts believe the success of the acting IG would be determined by his ability to stop the attacks by Boko Haram and improve the security situation in the country. That way, he would put to rest the suspicion that the police is the weak link in the battle to fight crime in the country, particularly the Boko Haram insurgency. Sources say the authorities are concerned that the feats recorded by the SSS in breaking the strength of the sect has repeatedly been eroded by the police. So when Abu Qaqa, the spokesman of the sect, was allegedly arrested by security forces in Maiduguri last Wednesday, just as some members of the sect were also arrested same day in Kano, the prayer was that the police would not let them off.
That is why part of the assignment of Abubakar would be to purge the force of the bad eggs that have given it a bad name.
SOURCE : TELL ONLINE.