Nigerian Police And Unknown Gunmen

By Casmir Igbokwe

Since October last year, the Nigerian police have been going through excruciating pains. First, protesters demanded an end to police brutality and the disbandment of the now defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Over 60 policemen lost their lives to the #EndSARS protests. Over 200 police stations were burnt. It got to a point, some police formations in Lagos procured the services of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) to protect them and guard police stations. 

Currently, unknown gunmen in the South-East have made them the butt of attacks. The worst state now appears to be Imo where a whole state police headquarters was audaciously attacked and set ablaze. On April 5, 2021, when this incident happened, the same unknown gunmen invaded the Owerri Custodial Centre, blew part of it with explosives and set 1,844 inmates free. Recall that two officers of the Nigerian Correctional Centre were killed in Anambra State last month.

A day after the Owerri attack, the gunmen moved to Ehime Mbano, also in Imo. There, they attacked the Divisional Police Headquarters, burnt some vehicles and freed some suspects. Since the beginning of this year, this has been the lot of policemen in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Cross River, Ebonyi, and Imo states. At the last count, over 20 policemen have been killed and a number of police stations torched since the madness started earlier in the year.

Military men are not spared. The other day in Anambra, some naval operatives were killed at Awkuzu in Oyi Local Government Area. These law enforcement officers were not known to have committed any crime. Their undoing was that the government employed and deployed them to maintain law and order, to protect life and property.

Granted, some of them have not been honest in their conduct and actions. They mount roadblocks ostensibly to check crime, but end up perpetrating some atrocities. But, could that be why the unknown gunmen are after them? 

I don’t think so. My guess is that there is serious anger in the South-East. The region had appeared like a conquered territory with security checkpoints all over the place. The people have also been crying over the marginalisation of the region in major political and security appointments in the country. A section of the country is in complete control of the security agencies, ranging from the army to the police, Customs, Immigration and so on – a clear breach of the Federal Character principle. Last year, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) lamented that the Customs appointed eight Deputy Comptrollers from a section of the country. The Department of State Services (DSS), it further alleged, recruited 535 cadets from North-West and North-East and only 93 from the entire South and North-Central.

Unperturbed by this nepotism, President Muhammadu Buhari just appointed another northerner, Usman Baba, as the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), in acting capacity. Baba replaced Adamu Mohammed, whose removal was announced when he was in Owerri dishing out orders to police officers to use maximum force against the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). It is still hazy how the immediate past IGP arrived at his conclusion that the attacks in Owerri were the handiwork of IPOB. Could he have done any concrete investigation the same day the incident took place when he made that statement?

Nevertheless, IPOB has since denied this charge. Even Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, who is a known critic of the group, exonerated them. He said some aggrieved politicians sponsored the attacks. Uzodimma claimed he did thorough investigation and arrived at the conclusion that the objective of the politicians was to destabilise the All Progressive Congress (APC) government in Imo. So, who is telling us the truth here?

While we continue to search for truth in all this, more spiteful actions against the people of the South-East have continued to occur. The other day, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State banned a planned meeting of an Igbo group in the Oyigbo part of the state. Oyigbo is the area where security operatives killed scores of Igbo youths last year under the guise of hunting for IPOB members who allegedly killed some security men. In Abuja, the Code of Conduct Tribunal’s chairman, Danladi Umar, had a brawl with a security man at a plaza. He caused to be circulated a badly written press statement heaping the blame on Biafran boys, whatever that means!

The police and other uniformed men appear to be the sacrificial lamb, which these unknown gunmen now use to express their anger and indignation at the turn of events in the country. This was how Boko Haram insurgency started.

Meanwhile, the law enforcement agents now do their work with fear. I have been in Anambra State in the past one week. The checkpoints have disappeared. Most police officers no longer want to wear their uniform in public anymore. Some police stations are even under lock and key. Ironically, people move about peacefully, most times, as if nothing is amiss. Vigilance groups have effectively taken over security in different communities.

The danger in all this is that when the uniformed men are no longer available to prey on, some other fellows will become mincemeat for the gunmen. And whoever falls into any trouble in this period is on his own because the person may not get any policeman to intervene. This is a dangerous trend that can breed anarchy, if care is not taken.   

The Federal Government should hasten up the establishment of state or community policing as espoused by well-meaning Nigerians. But before this action, the security agencies should do everything possible to demobilise all known and unknown gunmen terrorising Nigerians. In doing this, special care should be taken not to harm or harass innocent members of the public. The war should be taken directly to where the gunmen are, starting from the forests in the North down to the ones in the South, where bandits and criminal herdsmen hibernate.

After this, government should put modalities in place to ensure the restructuring of this country. It needs to do this urgently so we don’t have another Iraq, Somalia, Syria or Afghanistan staring us in the face. These are failed states where government has little or no power. The Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia were once powerful and homogenous countries. Today, they have all broken into different countries. Buhari should save this country from going through this same route.

 

Re: Soludo, Isuofia attack and Anambra politics

Dear Mr. Casmir, it is unfortunate and unthinkable that Nigeria, the acclaimed giant of Africa, is being shrouded in unmitigated insecurity to the extent that no one is sure of what may happen the next moment. I condemn the attack of an erudite professor, one time Governor of CBN, a man that is highly revered in his enviable contributions and selfless services he has rendered to Nigeria and Nigerians. This is a signal that all is not well with us. Buhari government is unfit to tackle the spate of insecurity. This is why Nigeria will remain unindustrialized hence foreign investors cannot invest in an atmosphere that is not conducive. An attack on Prof. Soludo is an attack on us all.

– Bishop (Prof.) Emmanuel Afamefuna, Owerri, Imo State, 07086313484

Dear Casy, when the head is rotten, what do you expect of the rest of the body? Gradual decay! When a house is on fire and the owner is busy chasing rats, what do you expect? Public disgust! When you keep glossing over the evil acts of the child you love while you severely punish your other children over misdemeanour, what do you expect? Deep resentment! When you elevate nepotism to the level of customs and tradition, what do you expect? Revulsion and attendant revolt! All of the above represent rudderless or failed leadership in this federal dispensation and the Isuofia attack is a microcosm of anarchy and fallout of such rudderless leadership. Solution? (1)Prayer, prayer and continuous prayer for divine help. (2)Attitudinal change anchored on sincerity, first, at leadership level and, second, down the line of stake holding of the Nigerian State.

– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731       

I am firmly informed by my educated guess, which hardly fails me, that the source of the Soludo dastardly attack is nowhere else than Soludo’s opposing camps. From a certain interested camp was this insinuation that Soludo’s eye-popping academic credentials were only fantastic on paper and would not transform to actual performance. There are unarguable proofs that the pathway of Anambra’s November 6 gubernatorial contest is strewn with desperation, thorns and turbulence. Being the cynosure of all eyes, the Anambra guber race squarely pits Soludo against the rest of his very ambitious and unyielding contestants. Let the searchlight for his attackers be directed at his opponents and their adherents.

– Edet Essien Esq. Cal. South, +2348037952470

Casmir, I share in the pains and sorrow orchestrated by the beasts in human skin from the ungodly attack on Prof. Soludo and the good people of Isuofia. The attacks on Anambra State and different parts of the South-East are the ugly memory of a failed state. Nigeria is in serious need of visionary leadership. It is an indication of anger and corruption in the country. One may ask, where are the weapons used in the attacks coming from? Does it mean that there is no more intelligence gathering of information on security situations?  Why are South-East governors so slow in forming a formidable security network to oversee interior and urban cities in entire Southeast? The sponsors of these criminals are certainly human beings and not spirit. There is an urgent need for state police formation and accordance of certain roles to traditional rulers as peaceful existence of individual towns can aggregate to collective peaceful state of the nation.

    – Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922

Fear of Prof. Charles Soludo is the beginning of wisdom. As Anambra state gubernatorial election is fast approaching, security should be beefed up in every area in Anambra state to avoid political violence during and after the elections. What happened on the fateful day was politically motivated to stop Prof. Charles Soludo from contesting because of his intimidating CV. Those behind the evil acts should be prosecuted.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

Dear Casmir, something should be done about Anambra politics. It’s been a theatre of crisis since the second republic: The days of Jim Nwobodo, C.C. Onoh cum Ikemba Front to Hyde Onuaguluchi’s NRC etc. Igbo are advised to soft-pedal.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +234 909 538 5215

What happened in Isuofia is so terrible, but let me inform you, the whole South-East is now under serious clampdown by criminal elements. Then we have cowards as governors.

– Anonymous, +2349135171324   

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, April 12, 2021

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