These are certainly not the best of times to don the insignia of the Inspector-General of Police of the world’s largest black nation. And the current custodian of that much-coveted office, Mohammed Adamu, seems not to be unawares of that bitter fact.
In the past months, Nigeria’s security crisis has worsened to inconceivable levels. From the East to the West, the devil has apparently seized the souls of many. Whether in the North or the South, horror-evoking acts of criminality abound, like flies and maggots lounging upon a festering mountain of filth.
Expectedly, the sheer daredevilry of the criminals has thoroughly overburdened the nation’s police chief. He has even lost considerable weight, as attested to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Until a few months ago, activities of insurgents were mainly restricted to the Northeast where Boko Haram insurgents have continued to overrun communities from time to time. There were occasional kidnappings in other parts of the country, along with the regular crimes like armed robbery and the like.
But all of a sudden, the crime rate started spiralling to uncontrollable heights. In Zamfara, for instance, banditry has become a common commodity. Criminals lay siege to villages, wiping out residents in their dozens. Intractable communal crises in Kaduna have ensured the violent deaths of hundreds. Last month, a British tourist, Faye Mooney, was one of two persons shot dead in an attack on the Kajuru Castle in Kaduna.
In Katsina, Alhaji Musa Umar, the district head of Daura, President Buhari’s hometown, was kidnapped and has not been seen since. Commuters between Abuja and Kaduna are waylaid on a daily basis by robbers and kidnappers. Right now, even senior military officers would rather fly or take a train ride between Kaduna and Abuja.
Only recently, dozens of Nigerians travelling on the Ibadan-Ife Expressway were attacked and kidnapped. Olayinka Adegbeingbe, a Professor and orthopaedic surgeon with the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, was among the victims. His family had to cough out over N5 million to secure his release.
The IGP asserted recently that in the first quarter of 2019, 1,071 people were killed in crime-related cases across the country. Within the same period, Adamu noted, at least 685 people were kidnapped. Yet on every highway in the country, different police teams mount roadblocks, sometimes 200 metres apart.
Cultism, the notorious Yahoo-Yahoo Internet fraud, ritual killings, violent rape and several other hitherto implausible crimes have become the norm across the states.
And as the people protect themselves from criminals, so must they also protect themselves from the police. Several innocent Nigerians have lost their lives in recent times to the hot bullets fired from police guns. Enraged youths marched in the streets of Lagos in March when a police operative killed a young football fan, Kolade Johnson in Mangoro area of the city. But the protest did not prevent the killing, two weeks later, of a 20-year-old lady, Ada Ifeanyi, by policemen from Trinity Police Station in Ajegunle, Lagos.
On March 20, police operatives also killed Ogar Jumbo, an Assistant Superintendent of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), during a traffic stop in Nyanya, Abuja.
Besides the killings, police units like the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have been accused repeatedly of harassing, detaining, concocting fallacious charges against and extorting huge amounts of money from innocent Nigerians. Many of these criminal acts by police personnel have been captured on video.
To be fair, the police authorities have always vowed to “deal ruthlessly” with such delinquent operatives. But such warnings have actually done little to prevent further criminal acts by their personnel. Extortions and other crimes are performed openly on major roads in the country.
All these, without a doubt, must have thoroughly tasked the top cop physically, mentally and psychologically to the extent that he is said to have lost considerable weight in recent times, even if his physical structure has never really depicted the slightest form of rotundity.
In truth, hardly could anyone accuse Mr Adamu of outright lethargy since he became acting IGP. He has actually introduced a number of reforms in the force. He recently ordered that the 12-hour, two-shift duty system in the police be reversed to the traditional eight-hour, three-shift procedure. He said arguments had been raised in some quarters that the resonating incidents of misuse of firearms and other extra-judicial actions by police personnel often result directly from work-related stresses and emotional conditions, which disorient their rationality.
No one could say for sure what the IGP’s discussion with the Senate was all about during his recent appearance before the lawmakers. But he has assured that 10,000 policemen would soon be recruited across the country.
He has also canvassed more funding for the police to enable the force meet its obligations.
Recently, the Senate passed the Police Reform Bill, which, among others, provides internal disciplinary mechanism for any police officer that maltreats or kills an innocent citizen.
Mohammed Adamu, from Lafia, Nasarawa State, was born on September 19, 1961. He joined the Nigeria Police in 1986 after graduating from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He also studied at the University of Portsmouth in England. He was an Assistant Inspector-General before he was appointed IG by President Buhari in January this year.