The killing of policemen on duty in some parts of the country by gunmen has, once again, brought to the fore the worsening national security. The effrontery of the criminals foreshadows a looming anarchy and evokes fear on the hapless citizenry.
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According to media reports, the gunmen on July 2 killed seven policemen, who were on stop-and-search operation in Galadimawa Roundabout, Abuja, and carted away their rifles. Earlier, two police officers were murdered at a check point in Abaji area of Abuja by gunmen who also took away their guns.
Similarly, four policemen were shot and burnt in their patrol van at the Uzebba-Aviosi Junction on Ifon Road in Sabongida-Ora, Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State, on July 14. The attackers also went away with their guns. Two policemen were also killed at the Birnin-Gwari axis of Kaduna State. On April 5, 2018, nine policemen were killed during the Offa bank robbery in Kwara State, which left 24 other people dead. The robbers carted away 21 police riffles. In June 2018, two policemen were killed in an ambush in Akwa Ibom State.
The victims were attacked by gunmen along Iwukem Road in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of the state. Also, two policemen lost their lives during the February 22, 2017 bank robbery in Owerri, Imo State. Many cases of such heinous killings abound across the country. According to reports, about 259 policemen were killed on duty in the country between January 2014 and April 2016. During the same period, 272 policemen reportedly sustained various degrees of injuries. There is no doubt that the killing of policemen has been on the rise since the inception of the Boko Haram insurgency in 2009. Although five suspects have been arrested in connection with the killing of seven policemen in Abuja, there is the need to apprehend all the murderers.
We condemn the killing of policemen across the country and call on the Federal Government to apprehend those behind such crimes and diligently prosecute them. The attack on the policemen is invariably an attack on the Nigerian state.
When policemen are killed at will, there is grave cause for concern. When the very man who is com- missioned to prevent crime is now the victim, it gives the impression that basic security may have broken down irretrievably.
The police authorities and the political leaders, who are aware of the security challenge, must rise to the occasion. It is commendable that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, has offered N5 million reward to anyone with useful information that will lead to the arrest of the killers of the seven policemen in Abuja and the killing of four cops in Edo State. In a similar response to the unfortunate incident in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki has announced a reward of N10million for information that would help unravel the perpetrators of the heinous crime. Obaseki said that his administration “will work with the security agencies to apprehend the criminals and bring them to book.”
The welfare of the policemen should be significantly improved. For the officers and men of the force to put in their best, their work environments should also be conducive. Unfortunately, the current salaries and emoluments of our policemen are nothing to write home about. Their working tools are obsolete and not compliant with the latest trends in policing. Therefore, they should be upgraded. Government should prioritise the training and retraining of policemen in line with international standards.
For the government to provide the police force Nigerians would be proud of, the force must be adequately funded. The poor funding of the police has led to rising security challenges across the country. The plan to establish state police should be expeditiously handled. State policing remains the panacea to the increasing criminality in the land.