The day was April 1, 2020, and the time 11pm when I received a call that my 15-year-old son, Salim, had been kidnapped. I was at home in faraway Abuja, and the boy had been snatched from my Kano home. I sprang to action immediately, leveraging on good friends to inform the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Police Force and the Department of State Service (DSS).
I then rushed to Kano to liaise with the heads of the three security organisations mentioned and, within two days, my son was found, without me having to pay a dime in ransom. One of the top security officials I worked closely with was the Commissioner of Police in charge of Kano Command, CP Habu Sani, a gentleman that embodies integrity and professionalism to the core.
The other great soul that led the investigation on the DSS side was the state director for Kano, Mr. Mohammed. He was one of the best human beings I have ever been privileged to know. His highly professional personnel, namely, Auwal Charanchi, Kabiru Dahiru, were with me practically for hours, until the boy was found. They were excellent products of the transformation presently taking place at the DSS, introduced by Yusuf Bichi, the current helmsman.
For the Army, a retired brigadier-general was helping me liaise with the highest authorities of the service, and all three organisations wasted no time in deploying technology to conclusively get to the root of the matter.
A day after the kidnap, I was with the Deputy Police Commissioner, another patriot, when he received a call form Mr. Habu Sani, his boss. The deputy was directed to immediately lead a crack team from the state-based Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to Falgore Forest, on the way to Jos, to flush out bandits that were setting up camps there.
So battle-ready were the Habu Sani-led police force in Kano that, in my very presence, within barely 30 minutes, the Deputy Police Commissioner and his team were on their way to Falgore Forest, and I gathered that they frequented the place daily, for weeks, until they chased out all the bandits operating in the forest and freed hundreds of innocent Nigerians that were kidnapped. It is courtesy of their sacrifice, working in concert with the Army and the DSS, that Kano is largely free of the banditry witnessed in many other states in the northwestern part of the country.
Some of the SARS personnel that went for this assignment did not return home alive. I can’t remember if any news platform had published it. They are buried and forgotten, as we carry on with business as usual. And yet, they also had loved ones, like everyone of us. The day my son was found, I met the Deputy Police Commissioner at home, and I felt a lot of pity for his young kids, wondering what the future would be for them, if they had lost their father who, in concert with his hardworking and patriotic boss, Habu Sani, were, as good disciples of the Inspector-General of Police, putting their precious lives on the line so that you and I could sleep well.
I want to say without any fear of contradiction that even a gift I sent to the Police Commissioner and his deputy was flatly rejected by them. The same thing with the DSS and the Army. And since then, I realised how wrong we all could be, concluding that our security services were rotten, insisting in arguments on issues we know very little about.
I wrote twice on these pages that, whereas the Nigeria Police, in particular, could boast of some of the best and most professional personnel, it also has some of the worst that anyone could think of. Now, juxtapose the generosity of spirit I witnessed in the hands of the three security organisations with a nerve-chilling story of a young married woman in Sokoto, who the police arrested all the way from Jos, for an offense she definitely knew nothing about.
It was around 5pm, in the summer of 2018, during the holy month of Ramadan when Muslim faithful were observing abstinence from eating, drinking, sexual activities (until break of fast at dusk) for 30 days. The young woman was with her husband, preparing meal for break of that day’s fast, when a call came through her phone. She was asked to report to the police headquarters in Sokoto. When she inquired as to why, she was told there was a mix-up regarding her phone registration that needed to be resolved.
In company with her husband, this woman went to the state headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force in Sokoto, where she was told she had kidnapped two adults in Jos, a city the police later confirmed she had never been to. Indeed, the police investigations established that she had never, all her life, stepped out of Sokoto metropolis. How, then did she kidnap two adults in Jos? Was she a spirit? These are questions the police have not provided answers for, up to now. But you know what? That married woman was taken to court, and because the judge gave her bail conditions that she could not meet even in another lifetime, she has been cooling her heels in Jos Prison for getting to three years now.
If the husband were rich and had bribed the police at the time of her arrest, surely, they would have come up with another story and perhaps arrested another person in her place. I got wind of this injustice and took the trouble to ascertain things by travelling to Jos myself. So, I am not speculating. I am telling a story I am very sure of.
It was in the course of my visit to Jos Prison that I also came across another pathetic case. A 16-year-old woman from a village in Gombe named Janet was roped by the police for a murder offense she also did not commit. Like play, this young girl was dragged in with her three brothers and clamped into jail. At the end of the day, based on the false evidence presented to him by the investigating police officers, the judge found this young woman guilty and sentenced her to death by hanging. She has been in prison for 13 years now, awaiting death every moment.
It was based on her case, which I also investigated, that I once wrote here asking state governors never to rush in signing death warrants for convicted persons, as not all of them are truly guilty. You wonder how a 16-year-old has been jailed by a court of law?Well, nothing is impossible in Nigeria, as far as rogue police officers are concerned.
During investigation, the investigating police officers approached the parents of the young girl and demanded some money to write a good report exonerating her. The grandfather refused, and it was perhaps the biggest mistake of his entire life. He eventually lost his life to the trauma of having three of his own children and a granddaughter all sentenced to death. He died ahead of them.
Whereas there are surely thousands of innocent Nigerians framed by some rogue police personnel for offenses they did not commit, let’s not forget that there are equally several thousands of heartless countrymen and women who committ very heinous crimes without any scruple. There is also the case of Godknows Ebos who, in a wintry night about 10 years ago, robbed a married woman in the presence of her husband. He then raped the woman violently, but you know what? He did not stop at that. Ebos then broke a bottle and inserted the broken parts into the woman’s private part until she bled to death.
Another convicted armed robber, a certain Osaremwinda Aiguohian, killed and callously dismembered the body of his victim, while the third one, namely, Daniel Nsofor, robbed a woman and then tortured her to death.
Even in recent years, there have been several cases of armed robbers visiting untold terror on innocent Nigerians. Many of them would hardly rob and leave their victims alone. They often would go ahead to inflict severe injuries on innocent beings. We cannot forget in a hurry how daredevil young armed robbers stormed the branches of five banks in Offa, Kwara State, in 2018 and killed several policemen, and innocent customers who happened to be in the branches at the time the deviants came calling.
I have on two occasions also been rescued by the SARS in Kano, firstly, on May 1, 2010, when the deviants scaled the fence of my residence and were trying to force open the main door to my living room, and, secondly, in 2011, when they stormed my residence and robbed me and my family of every valuable. My car was recovered by the SARS personnel the following day, though the other items stolen were never recovered.
So, in a nutshell the argument I am driving home is that, whereas there are rogues in the Nigeria Police Force, indeed some of the worse anywhere, there are also some of its personnel who are as good as the best of us. If the good ones were not in the majority, criminals would have taken over everywhere in this country, and it would have been difficult or even impossible for us as citizens to move about in relative peace. And what this means is the need for us to be fair to the Nigeria Police Force, for the sake of those majority who are staking their lives to ensure we live in peace.
I have also always argued that the youths should do more to reclaim this country, though not in a violent way, but through the instrumentality of the ballot box; 72 percent of the Nigeria’s population is made up of citizens who are 32 years and below. Yet, they have continued to allow themselves to be used by unscrupulous politicians to maim and kill their opponents. If the youths could unite, they could ensure that the next President of Nigeria is below forty years or thereabouts.
Sadly, even the #EndSARS protest has since been hijacked by hoodlums, and there are reports that the whole thing is being financed by Yahoo Boys, an euphemism for Internet fraudsters, as well as armed robbers who are well entrenched in that short-cut to illegitimate wealth. Definitely majority of those protesting against police brutality are innocent, passionate Nigerians who want to have an ideal police force for the country. But has anyone cared to find out who the protest leaders are, and where they are drawing the funds with which they are funding the protests in different parts of Nigeria? The funding from Flutterwave platform is still a few millions, yet the money being spent is hundreds of millions of naira. Does anyone cared to get the inside story of the sleaze in the process, accounting for why, though government has continued to make concessions upon concessions to the protesters, the protests have continued till today? Not only Yahoo Boys and armed robbers. The protests have also been seized by some unscrupulous politicians who are opposed to the government in power, with an agenda that is not far away from subversion.
It is for this reason that His Majesty, the Oluwo of Iwoland, issued a statement, strongly cautioning the protesters to these facts, asking them to “go home and call off the protests.” He commended “the Nigerian youth for their tenacity. It is clear they have a voice. Their voice is heard. They are reasonable force of reckon. And the government, has, in the interest of the nation, taken a drastic step for better, effective policing through the needed reform. I appeal to the protesters to go home. They have demanded the change of policy on policing and it is heard. It will not be good for Nigeria and and protesters if their demonstration is hijacked by enemies of the nation.
“Nigerians should note that police is part of us. We can only condemn their weakness but should appreciate their work in protecting lives and properties. No one is perfect. While wwe do a critical appraisal of the Nigerian Police at this critical time, we should not forget their strength in protecting our lives and properties at risk of security threat. Just imagine the fate of a nation without security outpost?”
Also writing on the protests, Mr. Frederick Nwabufo lamented that “hustlers have taken over the ENDSARS Movement. He drew the attention of Nigerians to how some unscrupulous individuals are cashing in on an altruistic motive of the protesters to enrich themselves.
And what is more! Most of those suffering or recording heavy losses on account of the continued protests are the youths, as well as the poor and the helpless who are being exploited by some of the organizers Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advicate of Nigeria and Minister of State for Labour reported yesterday how the ENDSARS protesters in Abuja killed his driver as he was walking to the Minister’s private office located in Zone One, Wuse, Abuja. In the words of Barrister Keyamo, “I regret to announce that my driver, Mr. Yohanna Shankuk, died yesterday in Abuja as a result of the protests. A vehicle that saw advancing protesters at Berger roundabout, made a U-turn, took the one-way back and ran over him as he was making his way on foot to my private office.”
Also, protesters in Lekki crushed the legs of a celebrated police officer. He is now in hospital battling for his life, and this is a man who has made a good name in fighting criminals and criminalities on behalf of all of us.
In the name of a complete reform of the police force, Nigeria’s economy is suffering, with the youths being the biggest victims. But the fact that those protests have continued till today without the police maiming the protesters is an indication that the Nigeria Police Force is reforming itself already. The complete overhaul correctly being demanded cannot happen overnight. It requires time and immense resources, the type of which the country currently doesn’t have.
If only those youths had protested when billions of dollars meant for procurement of arms and ammunition were being shared to some of our politicians, we will by now have had a more robust police force that could hold its head high and rub shoulders with the best in the world. Sadly, leaders of some student unions partook in the sleaze, leading us to the sorry pass we are in today.
In concluding this piece, BRASS TACKS commends the Nigerian youths for coming out to demand justice, but calls on them to see that rushing the police hierarchy to take haphazard decisions will regretfully boomerang on all of us. They should also realize that they are inadvertently lending their hands for the use of political enemies who have personal scores to settle with the government in power. I am sure that’s not what majority of the innocent protesters want. We should therefore withdraw from the streets and give government, particularly the police force, some reasonable time to gauge how genuine their intentions and pronouncements are.
We do not have any other police force but this one. So let’s be careful not to throw the bath water with the baby and suffer the bitter consequences.
For the government, and particularly the Nigeria Police Force, this is wake up call for them to get the right policies at the right time, using available resources. This is quite doable given the excellent pedigree of the current Inspector General of the Force, Mohammed Adamu. The police should never allow any bad egg in its midst to destroy the image of the institution, going forward.
As Nigerian Army arrests Gana’s deputy in girlfriend’s room
As the Nigerian Army continues to deepen its intelligence networks, its troops have recorded yet another major feat towards improving the security and wellbeing of this country by their arrest of Kumaor Fachii, two days ago. Fachii is reportedly the second in command to the late criminal kingpin, Terwase Akwaza (popularly called Gana), who the Benue State government once described as the most dangerous criminal operating in the state.
He was captured in the room of his girlfriend in Agbi village, Katsina-Ala Local Government of Benue State.
The Pulse reported that the commander, 4 Special Forces Special Command, Nigerian Army, Doma, Major General Gadzama Ali, disclosed this to newsmen in Doma LGA of Nasarawa State.
Fachii, who was paraded at the military base in Doma, is believed to be the successor of the once dreaded man of the underworld, Gana, who was killed in a shootout by the military in September. According to General Ali, “Thirty-six days back, the dreaded Gana was paraded here before you people, I mentioned that some of his kingpins have been arrested. Some of them are on the run and we are in pursuit of them. And, this afternoon, the gentleman seated before you is the second in command, after the episode that we had with the dreaded Gana, some schools of thought were subscribing to the saying that his second in command had inherited all his powers, everything.”
Now, he has been demystified by the Army, and the people of Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states, who were terrorised by the Gana gang that Fachii inherited, would heave a sigh of relief.
Gradually, we are getting to the Promised Land. More and more criminals, bandits and terrorists are either surrendering or getting killed by the armed forces. It is a gradual process that requires time and patience. But we are surely getting there.
This column commends the Nigerian Army for this feat and urges all citizens to continue to align with it by volunteering valuable information that could lead to the arrest of all criminal elements in our midst.
Nigerian editors lose yet another member
In the early hours of yesterday, Nigerian editors woke up to the profoundly shocking news of the death of Mohammed Bin Ibrahim, a friend and confidant for decades. He was a member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, and also the editor of Jamhuriya (the Republic), a leading Hausa newspaper that I founded 14 years ago, and he was one of the very best Hausa editors anywhere.
Mohammed had done a lot for this country, not just the journalism profession, and he lived a life worthy of emulation. He was one of the most hardworking journalists I have ever known, and he had a penchant for excellence. He succumbed to the Grim Reaper yesterday at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, which the Army Chief, General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, upgraded and equipped with sophisticated machinery recently.
Mohammed had worked in different newspapers in the country, including Leadership newspapers and Concern, a Kano-based magazine in which I was the founding editor 21 years ago.
He had been sick for over a month and on admission at the Army Hospital, but had started recuperating when death came calling. His family members were getting set for his discharge from the hospital, as he was so well that he could reply text messages sent to his cellphone. I had a hearty chat with him two days ago, not knowing it was the very last between us.
May the soul of Editor Mohammed Bin Ibrahim rest in peace. May the Lord give his family members and those of us who were his loved ones the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. So long, the gentleman editor. Till we meet where we shall part no more.