The acting Inspector General of Police Alkali Baba was the guest of this week’s presidential briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the presidential villa, where he disclosed that over 5,000 weapons and live ammunitions have been recovered from secessionists and armed bandits across the country.
He also said a total of 1,166 high-profile suspect have arrested nationwide in two months, while a total of 3,700 policemen drawn from various police units were deployed to south East and south south to halt the incessant attacks on police facilities, personnel, military and other violent crimes. Excepts:
Purpose of the briefing
I’m here to give an abridged version of what I’ve been able to do and what I’m doing in terms of policing, which is essentially to provide peaceful coexistence by way of ensuring that law and order is maintained and the Nigerian public go about their lawful businesses unmolested, unchallenged, and in a peaceful manner.
Bearing this in mind, on the 7th of April on assumption of duty as the acting Inspector General of Police, I started by repositioning the force management team to enable each member to function from a position of strengths in line with age long policing principles and vision.
With a refocus team, the management went back to the drawing board to enable us assess the trend and pattern of crimes and other security challenges across the country. This was done among other things to work in new approaches, both in terms of short term, medium and long term interventions that will help in reordering and stabilising the security of our country.
We conceptualised a new policy and vision, mission and operational agenda to guide our policing services, reclaimed the public space from criminal elements, protect the citizens with courage and serve our Fatherland with passion.
Our efforts at enhancing public safety was first to carry out a thorough geopolitical mapping of crimes as part of efforts to direct appropriate approaches to particular crime trends and challenges across the country.
The following are findings:
If you talk about the South East, major challenges, activities of secessionist groups, the IPOB and the militant group of the IPOB, ESN coordinating violent attacks on security personnel, formations, critical national infrastructure such as INEC facilities and offices. The herders/farmers problem is also in the South East. Then the proliferation of weapons and other related violent crimes such as cultism, armed robbery and so on and so forth.
When you talk about the South West, we have the same problem of kidnapping, bank robbery, farmers/herders clashes, activities of secessionist groups and cultism.
In the northeast, we are facing the problem of banditry, attacks on schools, and abduction of students. It has been kidnapping, highway robbery activities of Boko Haram and ISWAP. While in the Northwest it is also almost the same banditry, activities of Boko Haram, kidnapping and proliferation of arms. North central it’s almost the same thing.
But what are we doing or what we intend to do with these issues as it relates to the six geopolitical zones of the country, we try to do the following:
The security situation of the country has been significantly stabilized from time to time, but you see, if it is stabilised for a week, then there are isolated disturbances coming from this zone in terms of either attack on police facilities or police personnel or even all law enforcement agencies including the military. Therefore, we decided to one, rejig the morale of our personnel, which has been a little bit dumpen since the ENDSARS came and went away.
With the proscription of SARS and the establishment of SWAT which has not been able to take off fully, we had a vacuum in tackling most of the violent crimes from a position of strength in terms of having a strike force that is dedicated for that, rather than having our conventional police doing the policing in conventional way.
So therefore, we try to marshal back this courage of our personnel who have been involved in violent crime, lectured them and posted them to the anti robbery sections, for anti robbery patrols and the investigation of violent related crimes which involved of course robbery, kidnapping, banditry, cultism and so on and so forth.
Secondly, we decided to launch an operation which is tagged Operation Restore Peace and we targeted the South East and South South for the first phase of our operation. We involved reinforcing these two zones with total number of about 3,700 policemen drawn from our various units which include, police mobile force, the strike force, counterterrorism, the STS, IRT and these commands were imposed with these personnel with specific instructions, with an operation order that is targeted at stabilising the incessant attacks on police facilities, personnel, military and other violent crimes.
The first operation in the South East was done on the 18th of this month (May) in Enugu and we clearly stated our mission, we clearly stated our vision and the six states in the southeast geopolitical zone came to Enugu. All the governors were represented by the deputy governors except that of Enugu, who personally participated and we launched the operation.
In addition to launching the operation, we also had meetings with stakeholders to look at it the other way, which is a non-kinetic way of solving the issue. This is by the police trying to also reach out to the people of the South East that whatever agitation can be done without actually targeting violence on either security agents or the police in particular.
We had stakeholders in the business of maintaining law and order, which includes government officials, traditional rulers, captains of industries, associations, and so on and so forth. And we had discussed extensively and we had solutions proffered by different persons and these are also working on it.
In the South South, the operation was launched on the 19th, the following day in Port Harcourt and the same thing was done.
We did the same thing, in South South like I said, all the states in South South also participated. Our personnel were deployed to complement the efforts of the existing security agents, that is the police in the South South and what we took from other formations and departments to go and make sure that we increase the personnel in order to occupy many of the public spaces.
What we discovered in police attacks on police facilities also borders on the fact that most of these police facilities are located in the midst of people. Very many of them were created after meeting the condition by way population, crime volatility of the area and other things. Either the state government or communities who thought, it is okay for the establishment of the divisional police headquarters, came forward, donated land, donated building materials, or in some instances, even donated structures for these divisions to be created. And most of them do not meet the real condition of having that kind of status, in terms of space, or occupation and building. Some of them don’t even have perimeter fencing. But what I’m trying to say is that a standard police station has its requirement. But when, you don’t have the standard but make shift to make sure that the police are there to provide what I even consider as services to the community, in terms of maintaining law and order, thereby you have civil authority in that community or society. And because of that, when the attacks are coming, the attackers most of the time at advantage. At advantage in the sense that they will come in great number, odd hours and from every direction and especially it’s very easy to nowadays set ablaze buildings by trying to throw petrol bomb from a distance and all that.
But I assure you, from the time we have launched these operations in the South East and South South, we had respite of policemen defend themselves and also repel most of these attacks both in the South East and South South. We have had successful repels of attacks, we have had successful arrest, we have had successful recoveries which are in a good number. I may not be able to reel out the successes in terms of numbers and figures and instances but I can give out to anybody who is interested to know.
In terms of trying to bring culprits or suspects that have been investigated in these cases and arrange them in court, we’ve not been doing this for the press or for members of the public to see what we are doing. Because we had a lot of successful cases that have been investigated and ready for prosecution. But unfortunately, the courts are not working. And that has been one of our setback, to showcase our strengths in terms of bringing culprits to book.
After the launching of this operation, we’ll be able to say the dominating public space and reducing indiscriminate attacks by a secessionist groups have been largely checked. But there are some that are still going on. For the past 10 days, it was only day before yesterday (Monday) that we had casualties in terms of police.
On the depart of government since my assumption of office, we’ve been able to receive a lot of support and and practically taking in logistics by the Nigerian police. The police reform team of which I am a member, has started working and have started looking at the issues in terms of repositioning the police, in terms of administration operation and other necessary things that will bring the issue of Crime Prevention and Control down greatly.
We had also started receiving support from police fund which is essentially created to intervene on police issues regarding training, welfare and logistics.
We are also collaborating with the police affairs, military to make sure that our needs and desires are taken care of and we have promising postures, talks and action that by our laws in terms of our strengths and our personnel goals. Because, we are always complain of the strength of personnel we are trying to check on the recruitment issue, which is almost completed and we are almost 70% done to recruit 10,000 policemen into our force. It has been clearly directed that the Federal Character Commission, the Nigerian Police and the Police Service Commission look into the reflection of Federal character in the recruitment in addition to other requirements immediately.
Like I said earlier, we have evolve policing that is intelligence driven. To this effect, we have tools that are now in our possession to guide us in our Operations. These tools have started working to guide us in operations which is going to be intelligence led.
For record purpose, I can briefly mention our recoveries and the successes. They go as follows: in terms of recovery after the lunching of this operation, we’ve been able to recover the following weapons and arms from secessionist and the armed insurgents.
One general purpose machine gun, 10 AK47 rifles, nine locally made fabricated rifles, four locally fabricated pistols in 19 AK47 magazines. We have recovered over 5,419 live ammunition with 10 improvised explosive devices.
In terms of arrest, we have 398 armed robbery suspects in our custody, 258 cult related offenders, 222 murder suspects, 202 bandits related matters and the 86 suspects involved in case of kidnapping.
This statistic I’m giving you is from 7th of April to date. 434 firearms of various descriptions were also recovered. So these are some of the things we are doing.
For Kaduna Abuja road, we have isolated cases of attack but the entire stretch from Abuja to Kaduna is on camera and we monitor it. And we have deployed patrol vehicles that have worked well in those areas, except for isolated cases either in the night or ungodly hours when these bandits use this time to strike and run away. For the past one month, we have not had any case of armed robbery attack. We are doing the same thing in Abuja, Lokoja, we’ve been able to place it under radar and we have also deployed police vehicles that can be guided and that can also be controlled from the control room. If there is any distress calls, we’ll be able to also ask them to move to their location within the shortest possible time.
These are the things we’re trying our best to do to see that security situation is greatly improved.
On insurgency financing and sponsors:
Yes, in any kind of coordinated, targeted and organised crime such as this, the leaders behind it can be within or outside the country. You cannot say these are the leaders and where they are operating from. Some of them are unknown but not within our region to bring them to book. Some that are here, we have many in our custody and we are looking into their level of involvement with a view to arraign them before competent court.
For Abuja, Kaduna road, you asked what is the plan to expand monitoring on camera to other parts of the country:
Everybody, everything about policing is ongoing, there is always room for improvement on what we are doing. And government has competing demands. We cannot just focus all our attention on security and give all the resources of government to it. It requires a lot of things. But that does not mean we are static. We are growing and this is part of the growth, too. I assure you that we will continue to do it in other parts of the country.
On continued attacks since I assumed office:
Yes, I came in to meet the attacks and the attacks are still continuing. But like I said earlier, we are trying to mitigate it very seriously and possibly nip it on the bud completely. But it’s a process that cannot come in a day or two. So we are on and we hope and believe that we will win.
Part of five for five demands of ENDSARS demands was better welfare and working condition for the police. What are you doing about that?
Yes. We heard when Mr. President gave directives, that directives are being complied with in terms of our welfare, our training and other needs. And I have told you that the police fund was essentially created to take care of that aspect of our training, our welfare, and our logistics. And you have seen when they went to the National Assembly to present budget of N74 billion which they would spend on these three aspects of policing – training equipment and welfare. You’ve heard when Mr. President gave directives to the salaries and wages commission to look into the problems of our salary. So I have no doubt that our welfare will improved, it has already started improving.
On when state police implementation will commence:
State policing is an issue. I remember as far back as 1998 I think, I had a project in one of our courses, writing on desirability of state policing and the issue has been reoccurring, but now I think it is more. But if you look at it technically, I doubt if there is any state that does not have state police even now. What do I mean? There are creations that are done by state governments to assist law enforcement agencies in trying to maintain law and order, or enforce regulations or laws that are created by state governments. We have vigilante everywhere in this country. We have various types of organisations that have been created by state governments to assist in policing. Some of them had even House of Assembly laws that guide their operations. The space is open to everybody. We even always say, policing is not a matter of the Nigerian police, or the Nigerian law enforcement agents alone, everybody can be involve on policing. But I want to know, the shape that the advocates of state police want to take and it is an issue that is left for lawmakers and government.
We are ready to work with anybody. We are ready to collaborate and synergize with anybody to make sure that Nigerian citizens enjoy the best of protection, simple.
If you look at the community policing aspect, we have trained over 70,000 Nigerians from all states of the Federation, to assist in crime prevention and control. In fact we have even gone to the extent of using the Police Act to kit them with police uniforms, that will give them an identification as spy. And that is to say, all those who are trained to go back and assist in policing within their own locality. Your policing capability and powers ends within your community.
It is the community that suggest who and who will be involved in such a business and we are working with them. State governments or state governors are chief security officers of their states. As far as I’m concerned, they are and remain one. And my commissioners of police are ready to take all local instructions from them.
As for agitation, it is there but everybody is already involved in creating one agency or the other to compliment the efforts of the Nigerian security agencies. The National Assembly can look into the agitation which is their own responsibility.
On the case of increase in kidnapping, kidnapping and car theft in Abuja:
It (intelligence) leaked somehow. This is a way of proactively looking into what is happening, in order to put in proactive measures to prevent its occurrence. Where you cannot prevent you should protect and that has been the principle I have for crime and criminality. We make efforts to put proactive measures to prevent the happenings, where we cannot prevent, we should make efforts to bring the culprits or perpetrators to book. The intel is targeted at criminals.
What are the efforts to rid the police of bad eggs?
As for the bad eggs within the police, I think the police should be praised for being one of those organisations that does not hide the actions and inaction of its personnel when it comes to doing things that is contrary to what they are supposed to be enforcing. We have measures to deal with our personnel and we actually do deal with our personnel. There is no case in point where a policeman has erred and he was not disciplined.
What’s the latest on the case of Governor Ortom attack?
We’ve been able to uncover the assailants. And we’ve been able to establish what actually happened contrary to what he said, and we’ve been able to get these people and know where they came from, how they came but the case is still under investigation and that is why…there are some vital things that we have not been able to complete. But as for those who would pull the trigger and those who organise the crime, they are with us, they’ve been arrested.
On some policemen in the South East seeking redeployment?
There are two narrative to that. One of the narrative is that there are complaints that the police in the South East particularly those from that geopolitical zone, are by way of either intimidation from the secessionists, whether they are afraid to work, or they have soft spot for what is happening there. These are allegations. And if we have a reason to belief that there are those who need to be relocated from there, we will do that. But I like I told you, if we have removed 10, we must have reinforced with more than 100. So the issue of redeploying them from that place… normally what we do, if place A or B is very hot, and we have D, E and F is cool, we will be able to take some officers from where it is cool and put them in hot places. I think even farmers do that. Even in my place they do it, you all go to one farm, finish it and move to another and work on that. There is a lot of effort to condition the place. And that’s what we are doing in the South East and South South. That is why if you look at a place like Maiduguri, we have two set of officers. There are those that are fighting along with the military and there are those that are taken there to maintain civil authority in conditioned or liberated areas.
So transfers, postings are normal things in the police but sometimes you will see in mass or sometime in trenches, there are reasons for it. If you don’t ask, we don’t need to explain it to you.
Withdrawing police men for politicians who have been turned to domestic staff?
I don’t know what you mean by domestic staff. But the issue is there are those that needed to be escorted, there are those needed to be guided, because of the nature of job they are doing, or nature of responsibility, they are carrying. The state is supposed to provide security, the state is supposed to protect the citizens, particularly citizens that are vulnerable to attacks or assault or whatever kind attacks of because of the nature of duty they do.
Two, you have political leaders, who by virtue of the political offices they find themselves they are entitled to be escorted. Even businessmen because of their position in the society, they need to be protected, they need to be guided. So we have a unit that is called A Special Protection Unit. That unit is essentially created to provide security for those who are in the categories that I mentioned. And there are places to be guided, business premises, because of the nature of activities they carry out in that place, that company or factory or business entity. So there is no way you can say this policeman is being used, because if you see maybe your classmate with a policeman behind him, it does not mean you have the same status. Suppose you come to my office and say that your life is under threat and I give you a policeman and somebody saw you with a policeman and complain? So these are the things we are doing and it is also a symbol of authority when you have a police officer behind you. You’re walking and his following is a symbol of authority, some people want it. So therefore, whether by actual truth or false, they will go to the Commissioner of Police, and say some people came to my house with guns and I had to escape, my life is in danger, please, I need police protection. If you don’t protect him, you know the consequences if something happens to anyone, they will say you are the one that allowed him to be killed.
So there are issues but I have never issued any order since I came as it relates to protection of VIPs by policemen. What came out as an order, which was escalated came out from Asaba Command. Where, I think the DC operations was advising his tactical commanders who are supervising men attached to personalities that they shouldn’t be travelling with those officers, just like an orderly. When we came into this job, a single policeman can say stop, and everybody will stop but today what we saw a single policeman do in those days, five policemen are doing it currently. There is violence, lawlessness, there is impunity, there is everything that you can think of. So I’ve never issued any law. But if a policeman is working with somebody, then I know he must have been given that orderly protection by either the Commissioner of police or by somebody based on whatever assessment of what that person must have, based on our regulations of providing special protection or providing protection in that business. Sometimes there are issues and I can post two or three policemen to go and guide a business premises, and if the MD is going out they follow, these are the things that sometimes is happening but we have those who are also entitled. There is no law enforcement agents that is carrying gun that is not escorting dignitaries but your eyes are always on the police, why?
Arrests and media trial:
You see, we do this media trial because we have to blow our trumpet. If we don’t blow it, nobody will blow it for you. We blow it to showcase what we do. But, let me tell you in the criminal justice system, the players are many. For you to get justice for one person or groups of persons put him in prison, it goes through a process. The policeman can do the arrest, investigate and sometimes you don’t even have the power to do the arraignment at that instance, you have to pass to the state Ministry of Justice for them to take the case and arraigned the suspect.
From the arraignment, you now have prosecutors, who will now proceed to file whatever crime you must have established. He is the one that will call the witness to come and testify. Another player, somebody can become a witness today and the trial might come three, four years later and by then the man is already dead. They are those that have interests in the case and the IPO cannot even find him to come and testify. Then the judge is there. Because even if I catch the man with AK47 and I decided to charge him to court, the lawyer from the Ministry of Justice will come and tell him to plead not guilty. This is what we do to ourselves. If you go to any of the French speaking country, if I call you a thief, it is you that will prove that you’re not a thief. But here, if I call you a thief, it is l that will prove that you are a thief.
So, in the criminal justice there are many players. Today, there are celebrated cases that have been charged to court and they are there for years undergoing processes. The policeman’s job ends in coming to give evidence, by producing witnesses, by producing recovered exhibit and so on and so forth. If you are investigating a case that requires expert opinion, for instance, you’re investigating a case of rape, it is you that will go and bring the doctor to come and certify that there was a case of rape. If you are investigating a case of murder, there are a lot of processes where you have to bring a doctor, maybe postmortem report, what was done at postmortem, what was found in the post mortem, all these processes are there. The police is just one element in the criminal justice system and in the eyes of everybody, it is on the police, people don’t look at the process that leads to the conclusion.
Today, there is nobody who can mentioned to me any case that has been successfully investigated and prosecuted and the person is in jail even in terms of Sowore and his style, where Abdullahi Monteri was accused and he went to court. It was only that day, people tell a lot of lies in the media, libelous things but nobody has been successfully prosecuted, because there are processes. Somebody has been arrested twice for rape but by the time the case moves to court, it has been pulled into another person’s responsibility, you can go on and tell the judge why is that the case?
So, this is our own criminal justice system, this is our process, a case can stay in court for 10 to 15 years and then you will start saying justice delayed is justice denied. So who is fooling who?
So our media parades are not media trials, we tell you this is what we have done. And at the end, we will tell you, these people will be in our custody and we will arraign them. Just like I told you, if I had paraded the Ortom’s suspects in court, who have been in my custody for the past one, where do I take them to? For three months the courts are not working? Where do I take them to.
On the directive by Mr. President to shot on sight those with AK 47?
There is no AK 47 or AK49 welding person that we have seen that we have paraded but we have paraded recovered arms.
On the ENDSARS committee and compensations:
Well, that committees have been established on the directive of government and they are doing their work. It is a committee work, the report will be submitted and decision will be taken. You know every committee work ends with white paper. So, after the committee work the white paper will come out. They don’t have the final say on what they must have discovered. But we try as much as possible where we are alleged to have done something, we advise officers, we warn them, we encourage them to go and defend themselves. But this is also something that by the wisdom of government it has been established and it is going on and we are participating in it while defending actions and inactions.
So let’s see what will happen after the submission of their report and what the government’s will do. We don’t support injustice and those who what recommendation will be based on the investigation.
Credit: Daily News