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Police reorganisation committee inaugurated by Vice President Sambo

On 17 February, Vice President Namadi Sambo inaugurated a committee to re-organise the Nigeria Police Force, headed by Chief Parry Osayande.

Speaking at the inauguration, VP Sambo said the task of the committee would be to “redress the rot in the Nigeria Police Force and reposition it to face the challenges of democratic society, through the timely prevention and detection of crime in all its ramifications”.

The 8-member committee was constituted on 25 January, after President Goodluck Jonathan had sacked the former Inspector General of Police, Mr Hafiz Ringim, and his six deputies, following the embarrassing escape from police custody, of a key suspect in a Christmas Day bomb incident.

Its terms of reference as follows:

1.      To identify the challenges and factors militating against effective performance in the Nigeria Police Force and make recommendations for addressing the challenges.

2.      To examine the scope and standard of training and other personnel development activities in the Police to determine their adequacy or otherwise.

3.      To determine the general and specific causes of the collapse of public confidence in the police and recommend ways of restoring public trust in the institution.

4.      To examine records of performance of Officers and Men of the Nigeria Police Force with a view to identifying those that can no longer fit into the system due to declining productivity, age, indiscipline, corruption and/or disloyalty.

5.      To make any other recommendations for the improvement of the Nigeria Police Force.

Its chairman, Osayande, 76, a former deputy inspector general of police, had been chairman of the Police Service Commission since April 2008.

This is the sixth committee on police reform set up by the Federal Government in the last 17 years. There was a Police Reform Panel in 1995, a Vision 2010 committee in 1997, the Tamuno Committee in 2002, the Danmadami Police Reform Committee in 2006, and a Presidential Committee on the Reform of the Nigeria Police Force chaired by Alhaji M. D. Yusuf in 2008.

The Yusuf Committee, of which Osayande was a member, particularly lamented that the government had failed to implement the recommendations of previous committees. As it turned out, its own recommendations were again largely ignored since 2008, leading now to the Osayande committee!

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Acting IGP Abubakar suspends police training over poor facilities

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.

Wife of new Inspector General of Police Abubakar dies in Kano

On 30 January, Hajia Mariam Abubakar, wife of the newly appointed Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Mr Mohammed D. Abubakar, died at the age of 48.

Reports said Mrs Abubakar passed on in a hospital in Kano, at about 5 am. Some sources said she died of cancer, with which she had been battling for some time.

The Inspector General was in the Federal capital, Abuja, when his wife died, but rushed to Kano immediately he got the sad news.

Sympathizers thronged the Abubakar family house near the old Bank of the North building. The callers included police chiefs within the state and Abuja, prominent politicians and Muslim clerics who said special prayers for the repose of the late woman’s soul.

The late Hajia Abubakar was interred at Taurani Cemetery in Kano, at about noon, in accordance with Islamic rites.

In a condolence message to the IGP, President Goodluck Jonathan described Hajia Mariam’s death as “sad, painful and untimely”, especially coming just when her husband most needed her moral and emotional support in confronting the challenges of his new office.

In the statement issued by his spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, the President “lauded Hajia Mariam’s great concern for the welfare of the less privileged in the society, particularly orphans; and noted her several charity works even before she assumed her last position as President of the Police Officers’ Wives Association, POWA”.

The statement said: “The President, on behalf of the Federal Government, prayed Almighty Allah to grant the soul of Hajia Mariam eternal rest and grant her husband and family the strength to bear the irreplaceable loss”.

It also said the President had sent a four-man Federal Government delegation led by the Minister of Police Affairs, Caleb Olubolade, to attend the burial and sympathise with the IGP and his family. Other members of the delegation were the Minister of Mines and Steel, Alhaji Musa Mohammed Sada; the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr Emeka Wogu; and the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Isa Bello Sali.

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.

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.

Police reports 65 killed, including 35 Boko Haram members, during attack in Yobe State

Mr HAFIZ RINGIM, Inspector General of Police

On 10 November, the Nigeria Police Force provided an update on the casualties of the 4 November attacks by the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, in Yobe State.

A statement issued by a police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Yemi Ajayi, said 65 people died in all, far less than the 150 which some humanitarian workers had unofficially given to newsmen.

The statement said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Nigeria Police hereby confirms 65 deaths as casualty figures as at date 9th November, 2011. The breakdown is as follows: 11 policemen, two soldiers, two Civil Defence personnel, one Immigration personnel, one Customs personnel, one FRSC personnel, 11 civilians and 36 suspected Boko Haram members”.  

Commiserating with the victims and their families, as well as the government and people of Yobe State, over what it described as “callous and criminal acts”, the statement urged members of the public to always cooperate with the Police in its quest towards reducing crime to the barest minimum in the country. 

It also reiterated “the need for all Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike to be more circumspect, alert at all times and to report any suspicious movements, strange gatherings and untoward behaviour to the nearest police station or to other security agencies nationwide”.

Boko Haram threatens to carry out more attacks

On 6 November, the radical Muslim sect, widely called Boko Haram, threatened to carry out more attacks, a day after a series of blasts on federal security establishments and Christian churches killed dozens of people in Yobe State.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Suleimon Lawal, had initially reported 53 people killed by the armed men who attacked the police building housing an anti-terrorist unit, subsequently blew up a bank and further attacked at least three police stations and five churches. Humanitarian workers later said the casualties may have risen to over 100.

Hours after the blasts, a Boko Haram spokesman, Abul-Qaqa, promised that “more attacks are on the way”.

In an interview with the Abuja-based newspaper, Daily Trust, Abul-Qaqa said: “We will continue attacking federal government formations until security forces stop their excesses on our members and vulnerable civilians”.

Boko Haram had claimed responsibility for several previous attacks, mostly on police and military establishments in Borno and other north-eastern states. Since it stepped up its bombing campaign earlier in the year, its suicide bombers have also struck the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja (16 June) and the multi-storey complex housing the offices of all United Nations agencies in the country (26 August) killing at least 20 people.

BOKO HARAM THREATENS MORE ATTACKS, AFTER BOMBING UN ABUJA OFFICE

On 26 August, the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack on the United Nations building earlier in the day and threatened more attacks.  The group said it was planning more attacks, with “more than 100 men” who are willing to undertake similar suicide missions.

The group’s claims and threat were stated by a man who called a journalist working with the French news agency, AFP, identifying himself as Abu Darda and as a spokesman for the group.

AFP quotes Adu Darda as saying: “Through the wisdom of Allah, we have launched the attack with absolute precision. The attack was carefully scripted and executed. We have said it several times that the UN is one of our prime targets. We will provide details of the martyr who carried out the suicide attack”.

Darda then added that: “More attacks are on the way, and by the will of Allah, we will have unfettered access to wherever we want to attack. We have more than 100 men who are willing to lay down their lives for the cause of Allah”.

The credibility of these claims have not been established, but they seem fairly consistent with the group’s earlier statements and with what is known about its mode of operation.

Boko Haram (popular name for the group which calls itself Jama’atul Ahlus Sunna Lid Da’awatis Jihad, sometimes abbreviated JASLIDAT), initially said it was seeking stricter and more comprehensive implementation of Shariah law across the Muslim-dominated north of the country. More recently, some of its statements have suggested a more ambitious goal of establishing an Islamic state in a country that seems composed, roughly equally, of Christians and Muslims.

The group launched an uprising in July 2009; but was it was firmly fought down by military and police forces, who killed hundreds of its members and sacked its headquarters in Maiduguri.

Regrouping in 2010, it has since organised a series of assassinations and bomb attacks, targeting security officers, community leaders and opposing clerics, especially in Maiduguri and other cities in the north-eastern zone of the country. It had also claimed responsibility for several incidents, including a 16 June bomb explosion at the car park of the national headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja.

In June, the Federal Government scaled up its military presence in Maiduguri and some other parts of Borno State, under a joint task force. However, on 2 August, the government also inaugurated a seven-man committee to look into the violence in the northeast zone of the country and recommend solutions, including whether to negotiate with the Islamist group. The committe is expected to submit its final report by the end of this month (August 2011).

Supplier of bomb-making materials arrested in Maiduguri, Borno State

On 19 August, police reported that its detectives had arrested a shop owner who sold chemicals to people suspected of involvement in the failed suicide car bombing of the state police headquarters in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.

In the failed attack on 15 August, police had shot and killed a man after he crashed through the gates of the state police headquarters and was heading straight to the main building, with a car loaded with explosives. The police headquarters was hosting the screening of applicants for on-going recruitment into the Nigeria Police Force, a countrywide exercise, when the car bomber attempted to strike. However, the explosives failed to detonate.

Briefing newsmen on the progress of investigations , the Commissioner of Police in Borno State, Mr Simeon Midenda, said after the foiled attack, “detectives combed the car for clues that would assist in further investigations. Following up on one of the clues, detectives were able to trace the source of the explosive materials to a store in Maiduguri”.

He said: “Investigations so far revealed 13 bottles of aluminium powder, one packet of face masks and a packet of hand gloves were bought from the store on August 8, by those who sponsored the bombing attempt”.

Midenda also said that documents recovered by detectives who searched the shop showed that it had been a regular source of the bomb-making materials. He said the documents revealed that significant quantities of similar explosive-making materials had been purchased from the shop on dates just before several other bomb attacks since last year. However, he gave no indication of who may have been sponsoring the purchases.

Over the last few months, Maiduguri had seen almost daily attacks by the militant Islamist sect, widely known as Boko Haram.  The group had also claimed responsibility for the 16 June bomb explosion at the car park of the national police headquarters in Abuja. That attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who had the explosives in his car.

Police kill attempted suicide bomber in Maiduguri, Borno State

Headquarters of Borno State Command, Nigeria Police Force, Maiduguri

On 15 August, police shot and killed a man as he drove a car full of explosives into the police headquarters in Maiduguri, Borno State.

The Borno State Commissioner of Police, Mr Simeon Midenda said the man, aged 25, was driving a car loaded with seven gas cylinders and cans of gasoline and gunpowder. He had rammed through the gate of the headquarters and was heading straight to the main building before vigilant guards shot and killed him inside his car. The explosives failed to detonate.

The police headquarters was hosting the screening of applicants for the on-going recruitment into the Nigeria Police Force, a countrywide exercise.

Over the last few months, Maiduguri had seen almost daily attacks by the militant Islamist sect, widely known as Boko Haram.  The group had also claimed responsibility for the 16 June bombing of the national police headquarters in Abuja, in which about four people were killed and over 70 cars burnt. Police sources say they suspect the group was also responsible for this foiled suicide bombing.

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