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Kabir Sokoto, Christmas Day bomb suspect, re-arrested by SSS

On 10 February, authorities in the Federal capital, Abuja, confirmed that the State Security Service (SSS) had re-arrested Mallam Kabir Umar Sokoto, the main suspect in the Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, in which 43 worshippers were killed.

Unofficial sources had earlier reported that the suspect was re-arrested by the SSS, in a small hut in Mutum Biu in Taraba State, close to the border with the Republic of Cameroon. Mr Reuben Abati, spokesman for The Presidency, later confirmed the arrest to some newsmen.

Kabir was first arrested by the police on 14 January, at the Borno State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja. He was handed over to a Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr Zakari Biu, for further investigations. 

On 15 January, the CP sent a small team of policemen in a Toyota truck, to take him to his residence in Abaji, a town in the Federal Capital Territory, for a search. As the team got into Abaji, some young men believed to be members of his group, attacked and overwhelmed them, and freed the suspect.

A statement by the Police Force Headquarters said the Police viewed that development as “serious negligence on the part of the Commissioner of Police” and therefore queried and suspended him from duty. It added that the CP might be prosecuted, if a criminal case was established against him and his team.

In the aftermath of Kabir’s dramatic escape, many Nigerians described it as a “national embarrassment” and “a shame”. The National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoye Azazi (retd), said it was “a regrettable drawback on our efforts” to fight terrorism in the country. Within the police top brass, several officers expressed muted displeasure at what they saw as a major bungle. Many citizens called on the Police chief, Mr Ringim, to either hand in his resignation or be fired by President Goodluck Jonathan.

On 18 January, at the instance of the President, the Minister of Police Affairs, retired Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade, issued the police boss a query, asking him to explain within 24 hours, the circumstances surrounding the escape. The query also asked Ringim to show why he should not be punished for negligence, since the ultimate responsibility for keeping the suspect was his, as the nation’s Number One police officer.

On 19 January, the Police offered a reward of 50 million naira (about 309,600 USD) to anyone who could provide information that would lead to the recapture of the suspect. It is not known whether any informant contributed to the re-arrest of the suspect, but it is common knowledge that the embarrassment of his escape from police custody contributed to the sudden end of Mr Hafiz Ringim’s tenure as the nation’s police chief on 25 January 2012.

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President Jonathan fires Police chief Ringim, appoints AIG Abubakar as new IGP

HAFIZ RINGIM: Down and Out

On 25 January, President Goodluck Jonathan relieved Mr Hafiz Ringim of his post as Inspector General of Police, and approved the appointment of Mr. Mohammed D. Abubakar as new Acting Police Chief.

In a statement by Reuben Abati, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), Jonathan also “approved the retirement” of all Deputy Inspectors General of Police (DIGs) with immediate effect.

MOHAMMED D ABUBAKAR: New Police Chief

Those affected by the “approval” are: Mrs. Ivy Uche Okoronkwo, DIG POL 2i/c Force Headquarters, Abuja; Mr. Azubuko J. Udah, DIG Administration (“A” Dept); Mr. Sardauna Abubukar, DIG Training (“E” Dept); Mr. Audu Abubakar, DIG Operations (“B” Dept); Mr. Saleh Abubakar, DIG Works (“C” Dept) and Mr. Mohammed A. Yesufu, DIG Planning and Info-Tech (“F” Dept).

Some sources said the President had summoned Ringim to his office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, for a brief meeting earlier in the day. Shortly after the meeting, the President told the embattled police chief that his services would no longer be needed and directed him to hand over to his next in command immediately, and proceed on compulsory retirement.

Ringim’s retirement is the climax of a huge national controversy triggered by the escape of Kabiru Umar (a. k. a. Kabiru Sokoto), suspected to be a key member of the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram. Kabiru, believed to have masterminded the Christmas Day bombing of a church in Madalla, near Abuja, in which over 40 people were killed, escaped from police custody on 15 January.

Outraged by that embarrassing incident, many Nigerians had called on Jonathan to fire the police chief and probably try him for complicity in the suspect’s escape. Sources said the President initially resisted those pressures for two reasons. First, Ringim had been a good friend from Jonathan’s days as deputy governor and governor of Bayelsa State; second, the police chief had only one month more in service, as he was due to retire on 1 March this year.

It does now appear that after the 20 January multiple bomb and gun attacks in Kano, in which the police suffered an embarrassing number of casualties, Jonathan could no longer overlook Ringim’s personal lapses and the badly sunken image of the police under his watch.

Ringim’s successor, Mr. Abubakar, was, until today’s appointment, an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 12 of the Police, encompassing Bauchi, Borno and Yobe States – the states that have suffered the most of Boko Haram’s attacks.

Insiders say his appointment could be President Jonathan’s first step towards a comprehensive and long-overdue reorganization of the Nigeria Police Force, to make it more effective in dealing with emerging internal security challenges.

Nigerian police offers 50 million naira (310,000 USD) reward for information on escaped bomb suspect

IGP HAFIZ RINGIM: Embattled

On 19 January, the Nigeria Police Force offered a reward of 50 million naira (about 309,600 USD) to anyone who provides information that could lead to the recapture of the main suspect in the Christmas Day bombing of a church in Madalla, near Abuja, which killed over 40 people. The suspect escaped from police custody on Sunday 15 January.

A statement issued by the Force headquarters in Abuja said: “The Police High Command has declared Kabiru Umar (a.k.a. Kabiru Sokoto) wanted in connection with cases of bombing and terrorism across the northern states of the Federation, especially the Christmas-Day bombing of a church at Madalla”.

The statement added that the suspect “is aged 28 years, fair in complexion and speaks English, Hausa and Arabic languages fluently”.

Kabiru was arrested by the police on Saturday 14 December, at the Borno State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja. He was handed over to a Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr Zakari Biu, for further investigations. 

On Sunday 15 December, the CP sent a small team of policemen in a Toyota Hilux truck, to take him to his residence in Abaji, a boundary town between the Federal Capital Territory and Kogi State, for a search. As the team got into the town, a group of armed young men, believed to be members of Kabiru’s sect, attacked and overwhelmed them, freeing the suspect.

The statement by the Force Headquarters said the Police viewed this development as “serious negligence on the part of the Commissioner of Police” and therefore queried and suspended him from duty. It added that the CP might be prosecuted, if a criminal case was established against him and his team.

Many Nigerians variously described Kabiru’s escape as a “national embarrassment” and “a shame”. The National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoye Azazi (retd), said it was “a regrettable drawback on our efforts” to fight terrorism in the country. Within the police top brass, several officers expressed muted displeasure at what they saw as a major bungle. Many citizens called on the Police chief, Mr Ringim, to either hand in his resignation or be fired by President Goodluck Jonathan.

On 18 January, on the prompting of the President, the Minister of Police Affairs, retired Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade, issued the police boss a query, asking him to explain, within 24 hours, the circumstances surrounding the escape. The query also asked Ringim to show why he should not be punished for negligence, since the ultimate responsibility for keeping the suspect was his, as the nation’s number one police officer.

Olubolade said: “If he (the IGP) is found guilty of complicity, he himself would have to account for his mistakes”. When asked whether the Police chief could be sacked over the incident, he replied: “Yes, anybody (could), including me”.

Police arrests officer who shot youths during fuel subsidy protest in Lagos

On 9 January, the police officer who shot and killed at least one man in Lagos during protests against the removal of fuel subsidy earlier in the day, was arrested and detained on the orders of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Hafiz Ringim.

The officer, identified as the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) heading the Pen Cinema Police Station in the Ogba suburb of Lagos, reportedly shot at four youths who were playing football on an empty road. One of the victims who died instantly was identified as Ademola Aderitan. A second victim, who was said to have died later in hospital, was yet to be identified.

Reacting to reports of the incident, the IGP ordered that the DPO be arrested and charged with murder. The Commissioner of Police (CP) in Lagos State, Mr Yakubu Alkali, immediately carried out the order and directed men of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) to investigate the incident in order to establish proper grounds for his prosecution.

The headquarters of the Lagos State Police Command has not yet issued a statement on the incident, but a source quoted the DPO as claiming he was compelled to shoot after one of the youths attempted to disarm him. Neither his superiors nor anyone else believes his story. The CP is reported to have said that the killer DPO “would have to carry his cross, because the command did not send him to kill any innocent Nigerian”.

IGP Ringim orders massive police deployment ahead of Christmas

Mr HAFIZ A. RINGIM Inspector General of Police

On 25 November, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of ‘F’ Department at the Nigeria Police headquarters, Mr Mohammed Yusuf, said Inspector-General Hafiz Ringim had ordered massive deployment of police personnel ahead of the Christmas and New Year season.

Addressing officers of the Rivers State Police Command in Port Harcourt, Yusuf said: “There is going to be massive deployment of police personnel across the country during the Yuletide. The Inspector-General of Police has so directed. All of us are going to be busy. There will be no Christmas, no holiday, for any policeman”.

Yusuf reiterated the appeal to all citizens to support the police in their efforts to fight crime by providing information that could lead to the arrest of suspected criminals.

He said: “The police are conscious of their responsibilities. We are ready to deal with crime in the country…Members of the public have a role to play in the fight against crime. Many of the criminals live among us. I assure you that any information given to us will be treated with complete confidentiality”.

Police chief Ringim redeploys 6 AIGs

Mr HAFIZ RINGIM, IGP

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Hafiz Ringim, has ordered new postings for six Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs) who are to take over command of five zones across the country as well as the Police Staff College in Jos.

The new Assistant Inspectors-General of Police and their new posts are as follows:

  • AIG Mohammed D. Abubakar, formerly the AIG in charge of Zone 6, Calabar, is to take over as AIG Zone 12, Bauchi.
  • AIG Christopher Ola, formerly Commandant, Police Staff College, Jos, takes over as AIG Zone 2, Lagos.
  • AIG Suleiman Dauda Fakai, formerly AIG Zone 2, is now AIG for Zone 3, Yola.
  • AIG Johnson Uzu-Egbunam, formerly AIG Zone 12, is moved to Osogbo as AIG in charge of Zone 11;
  • AIG Saidu Gaya, formerly AIG Zone 11, is now AIG in charge of Zone 6, Calabar.
  • AIG Johnson Morenike, formerly in charge Police Academy (POLAC), Kano, takes over as Commandant, Police Staff College, Jos.

The IGP advised the senior officers to treat issues of negligence by their subordinates very seriously, especially those relating to terrorist threats and attacks.

The postings, which take immediate effect, are expected to inject new energy into policing across the country.

UN bomb attack: Nigerian government reassures foreign envoys of security

Mr HAFIZ A. RINGIM Inspector General of Police

On 29 August, the Federal Government reassured the diplomatic community in Abuja, that it would make every effort to safeguard their embassies and personnel, following the 26 August suicide bomb attack at the United Nations House.

Addressing over 50 diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, said the UN House attack had made it necessary to intimate them of steps being taken by the government towards their security. The minister then invited the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Hafiz Ringim, to update the diplomats.

The IGP told the envoys that following the UN House blast, President Goodluck Jonathan summoned the heads of all security agencies to a meeting, “where far-reaching decisions were made on how to ensure, not only the security of foreign missions’ property and facilities, but of their personal as well”. He said the Presidency subsequently mandated security agencies, particularly the IGP, to meet with the diplomats on how to strengthen security around their personnel and facilities.

In furtherance of that mandate, the IGP informed the diplomats that security agencies would be meeting them soon, to re-assess their security needs and work out new modalities for ensuring better security in their missions. He said: “We will go round, from mission to mission, and discuss what specific security assistance you require that would make you feel more secure”.

The IGP said he was aware that some of the missions and diplomats had already requested for information and for additional security coverage, following the bomb attack. He said he had been mandated to grant all such security requests, as much as is possible.

He said: “Security agencies have been directed to leave nothing to chance and nothing can stand in the process of providing each and every one of you the necessary security that you need, in order to function peacefully and effectively while you are in this country”.

Updating the diplomats on investigations of the 26 August blast, the IGP disclosed that “our security agencies have made some arrests”, but he did not provide any details. He said: “The President would soon make pronouncements in that regard to you and the nation”.

Police chief Ringim cuts short US visit, following summons by Senate

Mr HAFIZ A. RINGIM Inspector General of Police

On 29 June, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Hafiz Ringim, cut short his scheduled five-day working visit to the United States, in order to return home and honour a Senate invitation to testify on the security situation in the country.   

Ringim, who arrived Washington DC on 26 June, had held some talks with US government officials, and was scheduled to deliver a keynote address on 30 June at a conference on “The Challenge of Police Reform in Africa’’,  organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). 

However, he decided to return home after the Senate, rising from its 28 June deliberations on the security incidents in the country, summoned security chiefs to brief it on the situation.

A spokesperson of the CSIS thereafter phoned the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York to say that the Inspector General would no longer attend the event.

The spokesperson reportedly said: “He (Ringim) called this morning (Wednesday) to inform us that he will be leaving Washington tonight to honour an invitation from the Senate on the security situation in the country’’.

IGP Hafiz Ringim in US on five-day working visit

Mr HAFIZ RINGIM Inspector General of Police

On 26 June, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Hafiz Abubakar Ringim, arrived in Washington DC, at the start of a five-day working visit to the United States of America.

The North America correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Police chief is in Washington for talks with US government officials on the current security situation in Nigeria, and also as a major participamt at a conference on police reform in Africa.

The report, quoting an official at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington who craved annonymity, said: “Ringim will meet with FBI officials on Monday (27 June) and will also hold meetings with State Department officials on issues of security concern”.

On 30 June, the Police chief will deliver a keynote address at a conference on ‘The Challenge of Police Reform in Africa’, being organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.

According to the organisers of the event, Mr Ringim’s address will be titled ‘Towards an era of democratic policing in Nigeria’ and he will “discuss his efforts to turn the continent’s largest police organisation into an accountable, professional, publicly-oriented service”. The lecture will also mark the end of a year-long study into the challenges of police reform in Africa by the CSIS, an American institution which provides strategic insights and policy solutions to decision-makers in government, international institutions, the private sector and civil society.

An official at the Nigerian embassy told NAN that US assistance and cooperation was vital to the battle against terrorism in Nigeria.

Boko Haram: ACN urges Jonathan to initiate dialogue urgently

On 19 June, the leading opposition party, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), called on the Federal Government to initiate dialogue with the leaders of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, urgently, rather than persisting in the use of force, as a means of ending the group’s violence.

In a statement issued in Lagos by the ACN’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party also urged that instead of leaving the dialogue to the Borno State governor, President Goodluck Jonathan should lead the engagement with Boko Haram, just as the late President Umaru Yar’Adua personally took charge of the talks that led to the amnesty programme for Niger Delta militants in 2009.

Furthermore, noting that it was only days after Inspector-General of Police Hafiz Ringim’s statement  that the days of Boko Haram were numbered, that the sect attacked the police headquarters in Abuja, the party advised the police to exercise greater tact in handling the issue, in order not to further inflame an already charged situation.

ACN urged the government not to be discouraged by the seemingly impossible conditions which Boko Haram had laid out as its terms for dialogue. It said it was confident that dialogue will pay off in the long run, if those involved can persevere on that path and surmount the obstacles.

The party warned that unless President Jonathan acts fast, the current state of insecurity in Nigeria will not only do greater harm to the country’s image, but in fact ruin her economy, as no investor will be willing to come to a country where he or she can be blown up by suicide bombers.

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