By Chioma Okezie-Okeh
Days after his confirmation as the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Alkali Baba Usman felt it was time to take his plans for the police in the country to all personnel, and his first point of call was Lagos State.
His mission to Lagos was to speak to his personnel in an attempt to lift their dampened morale, share his vision, listen to their pleas and generally share ideas.
Not bothered by the windy rain that fell while he was addressing policemen at the Lagos Police Command headquarters, Ikeja, his order was clear: defend yourselves or it will be seen as lack of professionalism or cowardice.
This was necessary because of the after-effect of the continuous killing of policemen and destruction of police stations and barracks.
The IGP said: “It is my belief that I need to talk to all police officers that we have a duty to perform and this is the duty of crime prevention and control, maintenance of law and order. While we do that as professionals in the business of crime and control in accordance with all laws, there are things we need to take into cognizance in the discharge of our duties and responsibilities.
“I’m here to remind us of the enormous task of policing under a democratic dispensation. It is a known fact that we have not gotten all that we need to discharge our duties and responsibilities in terms of personnel recruitment and other things, but with the little resources we have and personnel we are going to do our job with determination and professionalism.
“Never again should we allow our stations and our personnel to be overrun to the extent that we would not be able to handle situations that can easily be handled because of lack of professionalism or cowardice or whatever. We must do in-house training and remind ourselves of power in the laws that we have and how we can discharge them. One area that needs to improve is the issue of crowd control, riots, so that you go back to the accepted norms of discharging these duties and responsibilities.”
He also announced that the suspended recruitment of personnel would soon start.
“For the avoidance of doubt the personnel and recruitment into the force of all cadre will very soon be in force. We have also started taking delivery of our equipment and working tools such as riot vehicles, and other fundamental tools from the Police Trust Fund (PTF). There is going to be intervention in training and retraining. There is going to be intervention in logistics and welfare.”
Still on welfare of personnel, Usman said that there were plans to ensure that every retired policeman is a landlord: “We are working towards service and post-service personnel welfare scheme. We are working towards enhancing our friendship after service and police housing scheme is one of our cardinal projects. We will work on the issue of barracks rehabilitation; we are also working on housing schemes, which officers will be retiring to after service.”
He also warned that lawlessness among policemen would no longer be tolerated because, as cops, “if you are not doing the right thing, you cannot tell somebody to do the right thing.”
“So, you must ensure you have self-discipline; you should be working on your professional callings. There must be motivation by way of reward. The essence of punishment is to serve as deterrent and the essence of reward is to serve as motivation. When officers serving under you display courage and commitment, you need to encourage them.
“Those who commit disciplinary offences that are stated in our books, you must invoke the punishment so that others will see it as deterrent. The service can no longer tolerate acts of indiscipline, which is not known with us. We must do the needful to be able to carry on with our job.”
On some of his achievements in the past two months, IGP Usman stated that there is aggressive control of proliferation of arms and ammunition in the country.
He said, “We have embarked on deliberate and well-coordinated nationwide mop-up of illicit weapons to contain the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country. Recently, a syndicate whose local fabrication enclave is in Jos, Plateau State, was arrested. A total of 770 high-profile suspects, comprising of bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers have been arrested during various operations conducted by operatives.
“One hundred and seventy-three bandits, in major anti-banditry operation in collaboration with the Nigeria Armed Forces and local community (were nabbed).
“A total of 152 kidnapped victims have been safety rescued and reunited with their families. About 276 assorted firearms and 16,515 rounds of ammunition have been recovered.
“Through sustenance of intelligence-driven and tactical operations by the force, in collaboration with the Armed Forces and other security agencies, the Abuja-Kaduna highway, which had been vulnerable is now better secured.
“Criminal acts of banditry have been reduced to isolated cases in the NorthWest, North-East and North-Central zones. Similarly, kidnapping and armed robbery incidents that were prevalent in other parts of the country were also significantly mitigated. We are also improving our public relations and regaining the trust of the citizens through improved community engagements, enhancement of ethical policies and the fight against corruption.”
On the efforts at containing separatist agenda in the country, the IGP stated that there was mass mobilization and deployment of operational assets, including the Police Air Wing, Marine and the Explosive Ordinance Department, among others.
“We developed a four-pronged operational strategy, launched a special operation, codenamed Operation Restore Peace, he said.
The kick-off of the operation was undertaken in Enugu (for the South-East operational theatre) on May 18, 2021, and in Port Harcourt (for the South-South operational theatre) on May 19, 2021.
“We have reinforced police commands in the South-East and South-South regions with special deployment of police personnel, including intelligence operatives, PMF, CTU, NPF Special Forces, IRT and STS.
“All these deployments led to the death of a commander of the armed wing of IPOB, the ESN, popularly known as Ikonson, and his deputy. Next on the line was Joseph Uka Nnachi, who was popularly known as Dragon, the commander of the armed wing of IPOB that took over after the death of Ikonson.
“Also recovered from the secessionist group during confrontation were two general-purpose machine guns, 22 AK-47 rifles, 14 pump action rifles, six pistols, nine locally fabricated rifles, eight locally fabricated pistols, 26 AK-47 magazines, 753 GPMG live ammunition, 2,549 rounds of live ammunition, 16 IEDs, camouflage, bulletproof vests, walkie talkies with IPOB insignia, charms and other incriminating items.”