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MOHAMMED D. ABUBAKAR, NIGERIA’S NEW POLICE CHIEF

Mr MOHAMMED ABUBAKAR, New Police chief. Courtesy: NAN

Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan, as Acting Inspector General of Police on 25 January 2012, was born in Gusau, Zamfara State, on 5 May 1958.

He enlisted as a Cadet Officer  in the Nigeria Police Force on 31 July 1979.

From 1991 to 1993, he read for and obtained an Advanced Diploma in Public Admininistration from Sokoto State Polytechnic, Sokoto. From 1995 to 1997, he again pursued and obtained a Diploma in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Lagos, Lagos. While on that course, he also obtained a Diploma in Disaster Management and Control from Isreal in 1996.

For his professional training, Abubakar undertook several courses in Nigeria and abroad.

These include: General Detective and Security Course with the Metropolitan Police, West Hendon, England (1982); Police Mobile Training in Malaysia (1983), Police Mobile Training at Gwoza, Borno State, Nigeria (1983), General Security and Intelligence Course at the Police Academy, Cairo, Egypt (1986), Basic Intelligence Course at Military Intelligence School, Badagry, Nigeria (1987); General Security and Anti-Terrorism Course with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in the United States (1988-89); and the International Security Course 9 at University of Surrey, England (1991).

He also attended the Intermediate Command Course at the Police Staff College, Jos, Nigeria (1991); Senior Command Course at the Police Staff College, Jos, Nigeria (1995); General Security and Intelligence Course with the Israel Defence Force, Isreal (1996); Disater Management Course at Haifa, Israel (1996);  Senior Executive Course (SEC) 27 at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), in Kuru, near Jos, Nigeria (2005).

Since joining the Nigeria Police Force, Abubakar has held several appointments and positions. He was Assistant Commissioner of Police, State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Sokoto Police Command (1991 – 1993); Assistant Commissioner of Police, Federal Operations, Force Headquarters, Lagos (1993); Assistant Commissioner of Police, Murtala Mohammed International Airport Police Command (1993-1995); Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Airport Police Command, Lagos (1995-1998) and Deputy Commissione of Police, Administration (and second in Command), Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja (1998-2000).

Abubakar has held command as Commissioner of Police in Plateau, Abia, Kwara, Kano and Lagos States. He was also Commissioner of Police, Airport Police Command, Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos. In 2008, he was promoted Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and posted to Zone 2 Command Headquarters, Laogos, comprising Lagos and Ogun States. He was also AIG Zone 5, Benin, comprising Edo, Delta and Bayelsa States. He was later posted to Zone 6, comprising Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Ebonyi States.

His most recent command, since 15 November 2011, was as AIG in charge of Zone 12 of the Police encompassing Bauchi, Borno and Yobe States.

Abubakar is a member of several professional bodies. These include the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), member International Association of Black Police Officers, Fellow of the International Institute of Professional Security (FIIPS), Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Economics (FCE), Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Local Government and Public Administration of Nigeria (FCIPA), Fellow of the Safety Management Institute (FSMI) and Life Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Industrial Security (LFNIS).

Through his years of service in the Police, Abubakar has received several commendations and awards. In 2007, he was decorated with the Nigeria Police Medal (NPM).

He is married and blessed with children.

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Bloodier Christmas Day catastrophe was averted by proactive security measures, says NSA Azazi

On 25 December, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen Andrew Azazi (rtd), said a major Christmas Day catastrophe planned by the militant Islamist sect widely known as Boko Haram, was thwarted by the proactive measures which security agencies had taken recently, to checkmate the group’s activities.

In a statement on Boko Haram’s multiple bomb attacks in Madalla (Niger State), Jos (Plateau State) and Damaturu (Yobe State) on Christmas Day, the NSA said the attack on the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, was an act of desperation by the sect, after security agencies had frustrated its other more bloody plans.

He said: “It is important to inform the public that the proactive measures put in place by the security forces during this festive period have so far checkmated a major catastrophic plan envisaged by Boko Haram”. Elaborating on the measures, he said: “Boko Haram’s major armoury in Yobe was destroyed only last week. Yet another armoury in Kaduna and two in Kano were destroyed also last week, in addition to heavy casualties the sect sustained”.

The NSA urged citizens to “go about their activities, remain vigilant and urgently report anything suspicious to security agents”.

He further said: “We renew our appeal to all Nigerians that this is not a fight between security forces and some dissident elements. It is a conflict between some misguided extremists in our midst and the rest of our society, because the victims are not confined to any ethnic boundary. We must cooperate to fish them out. And because our cause is just and our collective resolve is stronger, together we shall prevail!”

President Jonathan condemns Christmas Day bomb attacks

President GOODLUCK JONATHAN

On 25 December, President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the multiple bomb attacks earlier in the day, in which over 35 people were estimated to have been killed. The attackers struck in three cities – Madalla (Niger State), Jos (Plateau State) and Damaturu (Yobe State), specifically targeting churches in most of the attacks.

In a statement, Jonathan called the bombings “a dastardly act that must attract the rebuke of all peace-loving Nigerians”.

He said: “These acts of violence against innocent citizens are an unwarranted affront on our collective safety and freedom. Nigerians must stand as one to condemn them”. Jonathan said his government “will not relent in its determination to bring to justice all the perpetrators of today’s acts of violence and all others before now”.

The Minister for Police Affairs, Captain Caleb Olubolade, a former Navy officer, had earlier visited the scene of the Madalla blast and was quoted to have said that: “This is like an internal war against the country”.

The latest attacks follow a military offensive mounted against the sect around Damaturu in Yobe State three days earlier. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, had briefed newsmen that soldiers killed 59 members of the sect and destroyed one of their major arms depots in Damaturu on 22 and 23 December. Ihejirika said the clashes also left three soldiers dead and seven others wounded.

Christmas Day Bomb Attacks kill over 35 in Madalla, Jos and Damaturu

Cars burnt by the Christmas Day blast in Madalla

On 25 December – Christmas Day – bomb explosions in three cities – Madalla (Niger State); Jos (Plateau State) and Damaturu (Yobe State), left dozens dead or wounded. Some estimates said the blasts killed over 35 people.

MADALLA

In Madalla, a market town near Suleja in Niger State, a powerful explosion near the St. Theresa’s Catholic Church killed about 30 people and wounded more than 50. The blast destroyed or seriously damaged several cars, with some of the occupants burnt inside.

Security sources said the explosion occurred after members of the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, threw improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from a moving vehicle. Some sources report that the attackers threw the explosive after failing to gain access to the church during the Christmas morning service.

A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) put the casualties at 16, but local residents and other rescue workers said the toll was significantly higher. The French news agency, AFP, quoted a local priest, Father Christopher Barde, as saying rescue officials told him they had counted 27 bodies.

Some of the wounded were rushed to hospitals in the Federal capital, Abuja, for treatment, but died before getting there. Madalla is about 30 km from Abuja.

JOS

In Jos, the Plateau State capital, two blasts targeted the Mountain of Fire and Miracles church, as some young men reportedly threw bombs at the building. No one was killed by the blast, but a police officer was mortally wounded, after security operatives engaged the attackers in a gun battle. The officer was rushed to the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) for medical attention, but died of his wounds.

After the firefight, the attackers fled into a crowd, but the Police arrested four suspected persons. Military and other security personnel also recovered and disabled some explosive devices at a nearby building.

The blasts mark the second Christmas that bombs have hit Christian houses of worship in Jos.  Five churches were attacked in the city, on and around Christmas Day 2010, with dozens killed. Boko Haram later claimed responsibility for the attacks.

DAMATURU

In Damaturu, capital of Yobe state, a State Security Service (SSS) building was attacked by a bomber. Sources said a suicide bomber seeking to run his car into a military convoy in front of the agency’s office, killed himself and three security agents. Only hours earlier, on Christmas Eve, an explosion had targeted a church in Gadaka, a town near Damaturu. Local sources said many people may have been wounded, but there were no figures of any casualties.

SECURITY AUTHORITIES BLAME BOKO HARAM, SECT CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY

The National Security Adviser to the President, Gen Owoye Azazi (rtd), in a statement, blamed the attacks on the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram. The statement said: “The latest mindless and cowardly attacks by Boko Haram members, specifically directed at churches, were pre-meditated”.

AFP later reported that a Boko Haram spokesman, Abul Qaqa, had called on phone, claiming responsibility for the blasts. The news agency quoted the spokesman as saying: “We are responsible for all the attacks in the past few days, including today’s bombing of the church in Madalla. We will continue to launch such attacks throughout the north in the next few days”.

Two bombs explode in Jos, Plateau State

Map of Nigeria highlighting Jos City

On 10 December, two bombs exploded in Jos, capital of Plateau State.

Details of the blasts were still hazy at the time of writing this report, but local sources said they went off within 10 minutes of each other. The sources further said the explosions occurred in two locations within the Angwan Rukuba area of the metropolis – namely Tina Junction and Odus area.

The first blast went off at about 10.15 pm, near a popular television viewing centre called Executive Mansion. Local sources say the explosive was apparently dropped along the road, targeting the television centre. There was no immediate report of casualties, but at least 11 people were said to have been wounded, three in critical condition.

The second blast went off 10 minutes later at Odus, about five kilometres away from Tina junction. The sound was heard many kilometres away, as it echoed through the silence of the night. At least three people were said to have been killed, but this was not confirmed. A Nigerian Red Cross Society official said his men had sighted three bodies.

Plateau Violence: 163 suspects arrested by military Special Task Force

Stopping the killings: Soldiers in a community after violence

On 25 November, the military Special Task Force (STF) in Plateau State said it had arrested 163 persons in connection with the violence in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area during the week, in which over 20 people were killed.

Addressing newsmen, the STF spokesman, Captain Charles Ekeocha said of the 163 persons arrested by the task force, six had been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police. The six persons are suspected to have killed a Police officer, Inspector Dalyop Pinda, along with his wife and daughter, during the clashes.

The Army spokesman said 10 main culprits were arrested with highly lethal weapons, while others were arrested with daggers, knives, cutlasses, swords, bows, arrows and spears.

He said weapons seized from the fighters include one telescopic barrel rifle, four single-barrel guns, two AK-47 rifles, nine locally-made guns, two magazines for AK-47 rifle, 52 pieces of 7.62mm special bullets, three 7.62mm NATO bullets and 46 pieces of cartridges. Other weapons recovered included 55 machetes, 61 arrows, three bows, six iron rods, 26 knives, seven diggers, 12 axes, 12 spears and 11 catapults.

Ekeocha said the 24-hour curfew imposed on the area in the aftermath of the fighting could be reviewed if the security situation improves, but could also be kept in place indefinitely.

Fresh violence in Plateau State: 20 killed, over 25 houses razed

Map of Nigeria showing Plateau State

On 24 November, at least 20 people were killed and several others severely injured in violence which occurred at Barkin Ladi, headquarters of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State. The military Special Task Force (STF) imposed 24-hour curfew in the area.

Among those killed was a police officer, identified as Dalyop Pinda. A serving Councillor in the Local Government Council, Mr. Pam Choji Pam, lost his four children who were attacked and killed in their house. Among the buildings destroyed were two churches and one Islamic school.

Briefing the press after assessing the damage, the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr Abraham Yiljap, said the cause of this new wave of violence had not been ascertained.

However, some local sources traced it to the killing of three Berom youths, who were returning from Barkin Ladi to their village of Rasat on Sunday 20 November, by assailants suspected to be Fulani herdsmen. In reprisal, the Berom reportedly went after Fulani herdsmen in the area, killing four of them. According to the sources, the conflict escalated on 24 November, after three Muslim youths had been killed and an Islamic school in the area set ablaze, apparently by Berom youths. Reacting to those killings, the Muslim Hausa/Fulani then mobilized and attacked the Berom natives and their churches. The fighters used guns, machetes, arrows and clubs, along with other deadly weapons.

Yiljap said government officials and security agents were still trying to compile data on casualties and damaged property, but that over 60 people had been arrested and were being interrogated.

He said the rapid deployment of security forces had stopped the crisis from spreading to other areas. The Chairman of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Emmanuel Loman, also said the deployment of security personnel had helped the situation, as the Hausa/Fulani had remobilized at Kura and Gashish villages, preparing to attack more Berom communities, before the security forces dislodged them.

Officials said members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)  serving within the local government area had all been evacuated to safety at the NYSC Secretariat in Jos, the state capital.

Another 11 killed in 2 attacks near Jos, Plateau State

On 4 September, 11 people were killed as unknown gunmen attacked two villages in Plateau State.  

Dabwak village attack

The first attack occurred at about 7 pm at Dabwak village in Farin Lamba area, near Kuru, where the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies is located.

The villagers said the attackers were dressed in military uniform. The assailants attacked their victims with guns and machetes.

Those killed were an elderly couple, Papa Chukwak (74), Mama Nvou Chukwak (70) and their two grandchildren: Philip (11) and Titus (8). All were shot and killed in their home. The only survivor from the house, who is the mother of the two children, is lying in a critical condition at the Christian Hospital in Vom. About nine other residents of the village were also injured in the attack.

Targom-Babale attack

The second attack at Targom-Babale occurred at about 9 pm on the same Sunday night. Sources said the attackers came in two or three Opel Vectra cars, parked by the roadside, walked into the village and set houses on fire, before shooting or hacking down anyone in sight. The men were also said to have worn military uniforms, complete with boots. Seven residents (five males including a four-year-old boy and two women) were killed, three others injured and four houses burnt down.

The chairman of Jos North Local Government Area, Mr Timothy Buba, condemned the attack as “barbaric”. He said accounts by the villagers suggested the connivance, if not involvement, of some military personnel in the attack. He demanded the withdrawal of the soldiers deployed in the area under the Special Task Force on security in Plateau State.

Rising toll, mounting tensions

The killings in the two attacks brought the total number of deaths recorded on Sunday alone to at least 19 – a family of eight had been killed shortly after midnight at Heipang District of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area.

The attacks and killings in the villages, along with other violence in the state capital, Jos, which claimed an estimated 40 lives last week, are raising tensions across the area. There are fears that these tensions could lead to further deterioration of the security situation across a large part of the state.

However, the sense of urgency towards stopping the killings and defusing the tensions is apparently not shared by the House of Assembly (state legislature). Its members, sworn into office at the beginning of June – and paid handsomely since then – are currently on recess, and intend to remain so till next month. The Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Hon. Diket Plang, told reporters that lawmakers would call off their recess “when necessary”.

Meanwhile, community and civil society leaders in the region now see the present situation as a clear of failure by the Nigerian state, in its fundamental responsibility to protect citizens.

Family of 8 wiped out in midnight attack near Jos, Plateau State

On 4 September, a family of eight was wiped out by unknown assailants who attacked a village in Heipang District of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Plateau State.

Local sources said the heavily armed attackers invaded Tatu village at midnight, and struck at the residence of Mr. Chollom Nangup Gyang. They killed him, his wife and six children, including a four-month-old baby.

There is no certainty as to who carried out the attack. However, the Chairman of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Mr. Emmanuel Loman, who visited the village hours after the attack, said he suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen from a neighbouring village. He said: “We are suspecting the Fulanis in this attack because this is their route. And, apart from that, the Fulanis that live in nearby Mahanger village are heavily armed”.

Loman lamented that “This kind of attack, aimed at an entire family, is the second in less than a month in my local government. What is going on is beyond words”.

The Plateau State Commissioner for Information, Mr Yiljap Abraham, expressed the state government’s regrets over the incident and called on the people to be more vigilant to avoid a recurrence. Sadly admitting that government security agencies could not offer full protection to citizens, the Commissioner told newsmen that: “Government is calling on community and religious leaders and politicians to enlighten their people to help themselves. Arrangements should be made to protect the people; let people take measures to safeguard lives and property in every community”.

The Commissioner, however, urged ethnic, community and religious leaders to intensify efforts towards resolving differences through dialogue rather than violence.

The military Special Task Force (STF) maintaining security in Plateau was nowhere around the village that was attacked. Explaining the absence, the spokesman of the Force, army Captain Charles Ekeocha, said the STF withdrew its men after communities in the area had accused soldiers of complicity in attacks and specifically demanded their withdrawal.

Security in the area is now left to the police and the Plateau-owned security outfit, Operation Rainbow. With the Nigerian state failing in its responsibility to protect, communities in the area will have to do more for themselves.

Sultan of Sokoto, leader of Nigerian Muslims, condemns UN House attack, violence in Jos

His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III

On 30 August, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, denounced the suicide bomb attack on the United Nations office complex in Abuja, describing it as an abominable act in Islam, particularly during the month of Ramadan. The Sultan, who is the leader of Muslims in Nigeria, also condemned the violence in Jos, Plateau State.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the Sultan said these in Sokoto, as part of his Sallah message to the Muslim community in Nigeria, on the occasion of the Eid el-Fitr celebrations.

Refering to the bombing incident, NAN quoted the Sultan as saying as follows:

“We, therefore, seriously condemn this act while commiserating with those who lost their property and condoling the families of those who lost their lives.

“We hereby call on the Muslims not to allow themselves to be used by our enemies in achieving their desired goals. We should not allow them to cause us to commit acts prohibited by our religion. We, therefore, call upon all those involved in this nefarious act, to fear God and desist from committing this grievous act,” he added. Those involved in such acts, the Sultan said, should rather seek avenues to dialogue with the leaders over their grievances.

The Muslim leader also condemned, in very strong terms, the recurrent violence in Plateau State, the latest episode of which claimed about 20 lives only a day earlier.

He said: “We vehemently condemn yesterday’s unfortunate incident of violence in Jos, which caused the loss of lives of many people. While we condole the families of those who lost their lives, we would like to reiterate our call on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, investigate the incident and bring the culprits to book”.

He added that: “It is high time for the government to prevent any future recurrence of such acts of violence in this country”.

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