On 14 February, the Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohammed Abubakar, announced that training programmes for police personnel this year have been suspended on account of poor and obsolete facilities.
Addressing officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force on his maiden visit to Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom, since his appointment as Police chief, Abubakar said that while every police officer was entitled to training courses, the training institutions were in shambles. “Our training institutions are bad enough”, he said, “I will not allow my officers to go on courses and use their money to buy water, bread and other needs”.
The Inspector General said: “There is need for national rebirth in the Nigeria Police”. He told his officers and men that: “The era of corruption is over. We must allow competence and merit to take over its place”. He warned that failure at courses after second attempts would no longer be tolerated, that posting in the police would henceforth be based on the individual’s capacity to deliver, while promotion would be based on performance at promotion courses.
The police chief regretted that “So many things have been done unprofessionally” in the organization, and stressed that the time had come to turn a new leaf. He said: “We must redouble our effort in changing the damaging image that we have in the police today. There is need for you to change your attitude to work. There is need for us to go back to the basics of policing in this country”.
Abubakar also disclosed that plans were underway to change the uniform of the nation’s police personnel. He said: “We are making efforts to change the police uniform to a better uniform that will make you to be respected”.
The IGP, who was on a working visit to the Akwa Ibom Command, used the occasion to inaugurate a special crime-fighting squad funded by the state government and code-named Quick Response Squad (QRS). He commended the Akwa Ibom Police Command for reducing the crime rate in the state but urged its officers and men not to rest on their oars.
On 27 May, a band of Boko Haram militants staged an early morning attack against a police station, a police barracks and the First Bank’s branch office in Damboa, 80 kilometres south of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, killing at least 12 persons.
Police sources initially said the casualties were three police officers and two civilians, but later reported up to 12 people had been killed.
The Commissioner of Police in Borno State, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, who confirmed the incident, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that: “Today is a Black Friday to us, because we have just received information about an attack by some 70 suspected Boko Haram militants in Damboa area. The hoodlums attacked a police divisional station, police barracks and a commercial bank” using explosives, assault rifles and other weapons.
Mr Abubakar said more policemen had been deployed to Damboa and that he was personnally on his way to the town to assess the situation.
The Police Commissioner linked the Damboa attacks to the police successfully thwarting Boko Haram’s attempt to attack a church in the Kwanar Yobe area of Maiduguri, a few days earlier. He said after intercepting some of the fundamentalists who were trying to attack the Church, the police seized an AK-47 rifle, some motorbikes, GSM cell phones and other items from them.
“They were frustrated by the gallant efforts of the police, which prevented them from attacking the Church in Maiduguri”, he said, “So, they decided to launch another attack in a remote area”.
Reiterating the determination of the Borno State police command to confront Boko Haram and restore peace to the state, Abubakar vowed that those who carried out the Damboa attacks will be hunted down. Disclosing that many arrests had already been made over the incident, he added: “We will get them, sooner or later”.
Boko Haram, a radical Islamist group, launched a major uprising in Borno and Bauchi States in July 2009, but was overrun by government security forces, with more than 800 persons killed. Since mid-2010, it has carried out serial attacks against policemen and soldiers, moderate Islamic clerics, local politicians and Christian preachers.
Although its activities have been confined largely to the far north-east of Nigeria, the group says it is fighting for the installation of an Islamic regime under Sharia law all over the country. Its extremist views and violent tactics are not shared by most other Muslims, even in the predominantly Muslim north of the country.
The Inspector, who was attached to the escort vehicle of the state governor, was reportedly shot at about 7 am, on his head and chest, as he made his way to his duty post at the Government House.
Some local sources said the assailants, who came on a motorbike, had been waiting for him at a railway crossing near the State Low Cost Housing Estate, which was on his regular route to work; and that they shot him as soon as he got to the railway crossing on his motorcycle. But police officials say Kaidai was trailed right from his Madori ward residence, before the suspects shot him at the railway crossing.
Confirming the killing in Maiduguri, the Borno State Commissioner of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, said: “We have lost another senior police officer attached to the Maiduguri Government House this morning Friday, at 8 a.m., when two Islamic armed sect members on a motorcycle opened fired at Inspector Maina Kaidai in broad daylight at the railway junction”.
Abubakar, however, said there had been no arrests by the police in connection with the incident and the killing of a District Head, Abba Mukhtar Tijjani, the day before. But he urged the public to continue to assist the police by providing useful information on the hideouts and modus operandi of the armed sect.
Local residents say police has intensified its stop-and-search operations in the city.
On 30 March, Police arrested seven suspected members of the radical Islamist group, Boko Haram in Maiduguri, Borno State, and stormed a house suspected to be a hideout for its members in Damaturu, Yobe State.
Addressing newsmen in Maiduguri, Borno State Police Commissioner, Muhammed Abubakar, disclosed that seven suspected members of the group were arrested in Maiduguri in connection with the stampede at the venue of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) rally on 29 March. He said the suspects arrested confessed to being responsible for the gunshots at Ramat Square, venue of the ANPP rally, and also the robbery incident at Gwange area of the city. According to the police commissioner, one of the arrested persons, Baba Gana Mohammed, led the police to the group’s hideout in Damaturu, Yobe State.
The Commissioner disclosed that in Damaturu, the occupants of the said house engaged the police in a serious gun battle. They further threw deadly explosives at the police, detonated bombs in their own house before they ran away. The commissioner said that Imman Abubakar Mohammed Shekau, the alleged leader of the group, was among those who fled from the hideout.
In Yobe State, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Hyacinth Medugu, confirmed to newsmen that five devices exploded when a team of policemen, drawn from Yobe and Borno commands, stormed a house belonging to suspected members of the Boko Haram sect at Sani Daura Ahmed Housing Estate in Damaturu.
Medugu said, “We received information from Borno command that a house in Damaturu was harbouring Boko Haram members and requested enforcement to search the premises of the suspected house.
“We mounted surveillance on the house and noticed suspicious movements in and out of the house; then, we moved into action around 5am today (30 March), exchanging fire with the suspects. One of our men was shot, but he is responding to treatment.
The DCP said: “The unfortunate thing is that three of the suspects detonated the explosives and escaped, leaving behind two wives and three children who have been evacuated and were all safe.” He explained that men of the fire service department were invited to put out the fire caused by the explosives which razed down the house. He said the police recovered five cylinders suspected to have been used for explosives.
Abubakar said two AK 47 rifles, many rounds of ammunitions and deadly explosives including bombs were recovered from the scene. He added that the anti-bomb squad had been drafted to the scene to recover more explosives.
The police boss also said two women who are wives to the lieutenant to Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram sect, were arrested after the raid on the house. The two women arrested in Damaturu confessed to being wives of members of the sect. One of them, named Hadiza, told newsmen that she was the younger sister of one of the wives of Muhammed Yussuf, the late leader of the sect.
On 27 March, gunmen suspected to be members of a radical Islamic sect shot dead a grassroots leader of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), Alhaji Modu Gana Mechaniki, in Maiduguri, Borno State. Modu, who was the ANPP chairman in Gwange Ward, was shot in his Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) while returning from a party campaign rally in Gwange.
According to the Commissioner of Police for Borno State, Mr Mohammed Abubakar: “The killers had come on their motorbikes in their usual manner, before shooting their victim on the head and chest”. He said once alerted of the incident, the police pursued the suspects “who fled to the neighbouring wards of Bulabuli and the Government Reservation Area (GRA).” He promised that the police would track down the assassins.
The police said they believe the killing was carried out by members of Boko Haram, the extremist Islamist group which has been responsible for targeted killings in the northeast zone of the country, mostly around Maiduguri.
Boko Haram is believed to have been involved in the murder of a former ANPP national vice chairman, Awala Ali-Ngala (on 6 October 2010), and an Islamic cleric, Uztaz Ibrahim Ahmed Abdullahi of Gomari Ward, Maiduguri metropolis (on 13 March 2011). In January, the group claimed responsibility for the 28 January killing of Alhaji Fannami Modu Gubio, the ANPP’s governorship candidate for the April elections.
The ANPP is popular in most northern states of Nigeria and has been the ruling party in Borno State since 2003.
On 23 February, two suspected Boko Haram gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed a Police Inspector in Dala Ward of Maiduguri, Borno State.
The assassins had trailed the police officer to his house, where they shot him at close range at about 5p.m.
Borno State Police Commissioner, Mohammed Abubakar, confirmed the killing. He said: “We received a distress call from the Dala police post that one of our officers was gunned down by the two suspected Boko Haram gunmen on a motorcycle at his Dala residence”.
Abubakar said no arrests had been made, but was confident that information provided by eyewitnesses at the scene would lead to the arrest of the assassins.