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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.

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Boko Haram says arrested “senior member” is Abu Dardaa not Abul Qaqa, alleges “betrayal”

On 2 February, the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, said its “senior member” arrested by security operatives the previous day was Abu Dardaa, not Abu Qaqa, as had been reported by some security and media sources. The group also claimed the man was arrested after he had started exploratory talks with “key fuctinaries of the Federal Government”.

In a telephone interview with some journalists in Maiduguri, a Boko Haram spokesman said: “The person that was arrested is Abu Dardaa and not Abu Qaqa. I am Abu Qaqa. I’m the spokesman of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnati Lidda’awati Wal Jihad (Boko Haram). Abu Dardaa is the head of the Lagina (Department) of Public Enlightenment and not the spokesman”. He added that: “Of course, Abu Dardaa is a senior member of our group”.

The spokesman alleged that the group was deceived by the government’s offer of dialogue and that the man arrested was trailed and picked up by security operatives shortly after he had an interaction with some “key functionaries of the Federal Government on the issue of dialogue”.

He said: “We initially thought that the much-talked-about dialogue was true and we actually resolved that after the initial meeting with Dardaa, we would send five representatives to stand for us. Part of what we told him to discuss with the government representatives was the unconditional release of our members as pre-condition for any further discussion”.

The spokesman further said that: “Indeed, he (the arrested man) had started talking to them but, unknown to him, they directed some security agents to trail him behind and arrested him. This is exactly what happened…Everybody knows our capability and tactics of operation. It is evidently clear that none of our members could be caught on a platter of gold and without confrontation”.

The spokesman further said: “The arrest of Abu Dardaa is an outright deception and betrayal by the Nigerian government and security agents…His arrest has proven to us that they were waiting for us to avail ourselves so that they can arrest us”.

He said: “I want to reiterate that we want all our members to be released for peace to return and for dialogue to hold”. He added that the arrest of its members will not deter his group from its campaign and the pursuit of its goals.

The group, loosely modelled on Afghanistan’s Taleban, says it is fighting to establish Islamic government, based on strict and comprehensive application of Sharia law, in at least 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states. In July 2009, it launched an uprising in the northeastern Borno State and, in five days of fighting with security forces, more than 800 people were killed. The group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was among those killed.

Regrouping in late 2010, the group has conducted an increasinly deadly campaign targeting mostly police, military and other government personnel and institutions, but also Christians and churches.

In June 2011, it sent a first ever suicide bomber to the national headquarters of the police in the federal capital, Abuja; in August it bombed the Abuja office complex housing the 26 United Nations agencies working in Nigeria, killing 25 people. On Christmas Day, it bombed a church in Madalla near Abuja, killing over 40 worshippers. Most recently, on 20 January, its multiple bomb and gun attacks killed at least 186 people in Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria.

15 traders killed, burnt by gunmen in Zamfara State

Map of Nigeria showing Zamfara State

On 26 January, unidentified gunmen waylaid and killed 15 traders and then set their bodies ablaze near Birnin Magaji town in Zamfara State.

Local sorces said the traders were attacked as they were returning from a market in neighbouring Katsina State. They said the gunmen, numbering about 100, sprang from the bush and forced the open truck, in which the traders were travelling, to stop.

The Commissioner of Police in Zamfara State, Mr Tambari Yabo Mohammed, said: “The armed robbers waylaid the traders travelling back in an open truck and opened fire on them. They then loaded the truck with 14 bodies and burnt them”. He said a 15th victim died in hospital.

Although the Police chief suggested the attack may have been a case of armed robbery, local sources said it may be linked to some earlier incidents in Lingyado village in Zamfara State.

On 10 August 2011, vigilantes from Lingyado had evicted a group of people from the village whom they suspected of being behind a series of cattle and other robberies. Those evicted regrouped and attacked the village on 2 October, killing 23 villagers.

Commenting on that attack, the governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, had said: “From the information I have received, the attackers who are nomadic Fulani, invited their comrades from as far as Central African Republic, for the raid”.

German engineer kidnapped near Kano, Kano State

Map of Nigeria showing Kano State

On 26 January, unknown gunmen abducted a German engineer working with a construction company on the outskirts of Kano, capital of Kano State.

According to the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Magaji Musa Majiya (an Assistant Superintendent of Police), the victim, identified as Raufach Edgar, is an engineer working with Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company.

Majiya said the incident occurred around 8am, near a bridge under construction. He said the expatriate engineer was seized by a driver, along with two other assailants. He said: “They came and hand-cuffed him and put him in the boot (of their car) and zoomed away”.

The Police spokesman said he could not yet say who was behind the kidnapping and that there had been no communication from the kidnappers.

He said security operatives had blocked all major highways around Kano in their efforts to track down the kidnappers, and that authorities in neighbouring states had also been alerted.

On 20 January, Kano city suffered multiple bomb and gun attacks in which over 200 people were killed. The militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attacks.

This is the second incident involving the kidnap of expatriate construction workers in the northern part of the country in the last 10 months. It will be recalled that on 12 May 2011, a Briton and an Italian working with the foreign construction company, B. Stabilini, were kidnapped from their lodge in Birnin Kebbi, capital of Kebbi State.

In early August, a video clip sent by unknown persons to the AFP office in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, showed the men blindfolded and urging their governments to meet the demands of the kidnappers, whom they said were from the transnational terror group, al Qaeda. The British, Italian and Nigerian governments said they were investigating the development, but there has been no official update since then.

President Jonathan sets up Special Committee towards urgent reorganization of Nigerian Police Force

Mr PARRY OSAYANDE, Chairman of the Special Committee

On 25 January, President Goodluck Jonathan established a Special Committee to oversee the urgent reorganization of the Nigeria Police Force.

The committee is to be chaired by the current Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Mr. Parry B.O. Osayande, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police.

The Committee’s other members are the following:

1.      Mr. Cashmir T. Akagbosu, AIG (rtd.), mni

2.      Mr. Bashir A. Albasu, AIG (rtd.), fwc.

3.      Major Gen. S.N. Chikwe (rtd), fwc.

4.      Professor S.D. Mukoro.

5.      Dr. Fabian Ajogwu, SAN.

6.      Aisha Larai Tukur.

7.      Solicitor General of the Federation.

8.      Permanent Secretary, SSO, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) who is to serve as Secretary to the Committee.

The statement further listed the committee’s 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.

The statement added that the Committee’s recommendations shall be implemented along with those of previous committees set up by Government towards reforming of the Force.

Multiple bomb explosions rock Kano: Zonal Police headquarters, several police stations, Immigration office hit

Map of Nigeria showing Kano State

On 20 January, multiple explosions and gunfire rocked Kano, capital of Kano State and the commercial nerve centre of northern Nigeria, destroying several government buildings and turning the city into chaos.

Among the buildings hit were the Zone 1 police headquarters at Kofar Dan Agundi, along BUK road, Sharada; several other police stations and the Immigration office at Farm Centre. There were fears of substantial casualties, but no figures immediately available.

Local sources report huge smoke rising from the zonal police headquarters, after the building had been severely damaged by the blast. The building includes the office of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) in charge of the zone, which comprises the police commands in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States.

One account said the bomber of the police headquarters came close to the building on a motor cycle, got down and then made a dash inside, clutching a bag. The account said police tried to stop him but he forced his way through, and then the blast went off.

Soon after that first blast, several other explosions went off in different parts of the city. Some residents report that another explosion hit the police station on Zaria Road while a third hit the Immigration office.  Others suggest that up to eight police stations may have been hit. Some residents said the attackers had freed detainees from about six police stations.

One report said another bomber also tried to attack the office of the State Security Service (SSS) but was shot down before he could detonate his bomb. A second attacker is said to have been arrested, but this is yet to be confirmed by security authorities.

There are yet no official or comprehensive reports of casualties, but some sources say they could be “substantial”.  Officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Kano, said they were having a hard time trying to reach the scenes of the major explosions, as police and army teams had cordoned off most of them and also set up many roadblocks across the city.  

The Al Jazeera correspondent quotes one witness as having seen at least seven dead bodies, including five immigration officers and two civilians.

Police have declared a 24-hour curfew in Kano metropolis, but there were sounds of gunfire, apparently from gun battles between the attackers and security operatives, beyond sunset.

The Islamist militant group, widely known as Boko Haram, has reportedly claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks.

The group says it is fighting to establish Islamic rule in the northernmost third of Nigeria’s 36 states. It had claimed responsibility, or had been blamed by security authorities, for several bomb and gun attacks, especially in the north-eastern Borno State, since late 2010.

On 16 June 2011, it claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack inside the premises of the Nigeria Police headquarters in the federal capital, Abuja. On 26 August, it also claimed responsibility for the bombing of the United Nations office complex in Abuja, in which 25 people were killed.

Most recently, it said it was responsible for the Christmas Day bomb attack on a church in Madalla near Abuja, in which over 40 worshippers were killed. In the first week of January, it gave all Christians and southerners a two-day ultimatum to leave the northern parts of the country, but government and security authorities urges citizens to ignore that ultimatum.

Kidnap of 8-month pregnant medical doctor: Colleagues threaten strike in Enugu

Map of Nigeria showing Enugu State

On 18 January, medical doctors marched through the streets of Enugu, capital of Enugu State, protesting the kidnap of their female colleague, Dr Chidinma Okwor, eight months pregnant, who was abducted on 10 January. The doctors threatened to commence an indefinite strike, if she was not freed or rescued within the next seven days.

Mrs Okwor, a mother of four and a Senior Registrar in the Department of Radiology Medicine at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku-Ozalla, was seized by unknown persons in front of her residence along Nike Road in Enugu East Local Government Area. Local sources said her abductors were about four armed youths who whisked her away in their waiting vehicle.

The doctors, under the umbrella of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Enugu State chapter, wore their professional robes and carried placards, some of which read: “Release Our Colleague Now”, “Remember that an unborn Child is involved” and “We Condemn the abduction of a Fetus”.

In an earlier reaction, the chairman of the NMA in the state, Dr Kenechi Madu, had decribed the incident as “abominable”, especially in view of the victim’s condition, appealing to security authorities to step up action towards rescuing the woman and her unborn child.

During the protest, the Chairman of the Association of Resident Doctors at the UNTH, Dr. Ugwunna Nwachukwu, said the abduction of an eight-month pregnant woman was the height of criminality. He said the situation was even more distressing as the abductors had not yet made any contact with the woman’s family.

The protesting doctors went round the offices of all security agencies in the state pleading for more efforts to rescue their colleague. At the Central Police Station, they warned that they may embark on an indefinite strike, if the government and security agencies failed to secure the woman’s release within the next seven days.

Police authorities said they were combing all nooks and crannies of the state and even beyond, in efforts to track down the criminals and free the woman alive and unhurt.

Gov Fashola opposes deployment of soldiers against protesters in Lagos

BABATUNDE FASHOLA, Governor, Lagos State: Not a military affair

On 16 January, the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, expressed strong objection to the Federal Government’s deployment of soldiers on the streets of Nigeria’s economic mega-city, Lagos, to prevent protests against the government’s removal of subsidy on gasoline.

The soldiers were deployed across Lagos metropolis on the night of 15 January, especially at the open spaces where protesters had gathered for mammoth rallies all through the previous week. The soldiers had said they were doing routine security duties, but they effectively prevented protesters from gathering in large numbers at the rally venues.

In a broadcast, Governor Fashola noted that the citizens who had gathered for the protests in several parts of Lagos had “largely conducted themselves peacefully, singing and dancing while they expressed their displeasure” at the way government had taken decisions on issues that affect them.

He said “majority of these people, who represent diverse interests, had not broken any law”; and that even if they had done so, “it is the police that has the responsibility for restoring law and order if civil protests threaten the breach of the peace”.

Recalling that all those currently occupying high elective offices once “danced and sang before these same people when we were seeking their votes”, the governor said there was “no justification for sending out soldiers to a gathering of unarmed citizens”.

Describing the presence of the troops on the streets of Lagos as “disquieting”, Fashola urged President Goodluck Jonathan to reconsider his decision to deploy them and to direct their withdrawal.

Gunmen kill 4 police officers and 4 others in Potiskum, Yobe State

Map of Nigeria showing Yobe State

On 10 January, gunmen suspected to be members of the militant Islamist sect widely known as Boko Haram shot and killed eight persons, including four police officers and a seven-year-old child, in Potiskum, 120 km west of the Yobe state capital, Damaturu.

The Commissioner of Police in Yobe State, Mr Lawal Tanko, said six gunmen opened fire on their victims at a bar. “Suspected Islamic sect members attacked the drinking joint and killed eight people, four of whom were policemen”, Mr Lawal told Reuters. “The bodies of the deceased have been deposited at the Potiskum General Hospital”.

However, some local sources said those killed in the beer garden shooting included five policemen who had gone to drink, and one bartender. They also said the attackers sped off on a motorcycle immediately after the shooting.

Potiskum, the commercial nerve centre of Yobe State, is in the part of the state that President Goodluck Jonathan placed under emergency rule on 31 December, but this is the second episode of violence in the town in the 10 days since the emergency was declared.

On 6 January, suspected members of Boko Haram launched gun and bomb attacks on the police headquarters in the town. The attackers also robbed and burnt two banks, and threw a bomb into a police barracks, but no one in the barracks was hurt. Security forces responded with a gun battle that raged through the night.

Hundreds of residents in the areas around the police headquarters fled their homes for fear of being caught in the fighting while others left the town entirely.

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”.

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