From Molly kilete, Abuja
The Inspector-General of Police(IGP), Ibrahim Baba Alkali, Monday said the police have arrested a total of 754 suspected bandits, kidnappers, and armed robbers in the last two months.
He also said 67, bandits were killed during the operations conducted across the country. He said those arrested include the attackers of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom on March, 20.
Baba, who made this known at a meeting with commissioners of police and above in Abuja, also said that the police was currently reviewing the security situation in the country as the June 12 Democracy Day Celebration is around the corner with a view to ensuring a hitch-free exercise. He charged the officers to continue to remain civil with law-abiding citizens, but firm with any person or group that may wish to take advantage of the event to threaten our internal security order.
He said the police rescued 152, kidnapped victims including kidnapped students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization Kaduna and recovered 231, assorted firearms, 6,616, rounds of assorted ammunitions during the operations.
According to him, the Police working in conjunction with the Military, DSS, and local communities, arrested 173, suspected bandits, and killed 68, who engaged the operatives in a shoot out, and recovered 67 assorted firearms comprising mostly of AK-47 rifles, pump-action guns, locally fabricated rifles and other weapons were recovered from bandits.
The IGP, who used the occasion to give a breakdown of police operations conducted in the last two months, said the meeting was aimed at reviewing existing and evolving security threats, evaluate police strategies, assess the progress made in its internal security operations, and undertake professional peer review in order to draw lessons that can enrich our leadership at a strategic level.
He commended officers and men of the service for their sacrifices, the zeal and courage they have exhibited in the face of limited operational resources in stabilising the security order across the country.
He said: ‘I am glad to note that with your support, we have made significant progress in the attainment of our mandate such that between April and May 2021, a total of six hundred and eighty-six (686) high-profile suspects have been arrested during various police operations across the country. The arrested suspects comprise mainly bandits, kidnappers, and armed robbers. They also include the principal suspects involved in the attack on his Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom on 20th March 2021.
‘Similarly, a total of one hundred and fifty -two (152) kidnapped victims including the students kidnapped at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization Kaduna have also been safely rescued by the Police during this period. Furthermore, two hundred and thirty-one (231) assorted firearms and six thousand six hundred and sixteen (6,616) rounds of assorted ammunition were also recovered by the police during various operations nationwide over the past two months.
‘In relation to our anti-banditry operations, the Police in collaboration with the Military, DSS, and local communities have successfully arrested one hundred and seventy-three (173) suspected bandits, while sixty-eight (68) others died during encounters with the Police in the course of search and rescue operations within the past two months. In addition, sixty-seven (67) assorted firearms comprising of AK-47 rifles, pump-action guns, locally fabricated rifles and other weapons were recovered from bandits within the same period.
‘In relation to our anti-separatist operations in the South East and parts of South-South, with the launch of the special operation code-named “Operation Restore Peace” (Operation RP) in Enugu (for the South East Operational Theatre) on Tuesday 18th May 2021 and in Port Harcourt (for the South-South Operational Theatre on Wednesday 19th May 2021), we have enhanced our capacity to repel attacks by the secessionists as well as to undertake proactive operations aimed at disrupting their destabilizing armed campaigns and with a view to restoring constitutional order.
‘In consequence, we have recorded the following successes against the separatists in recent times:
I. The killing of the overall Operational Commander of IPOB/ESN in the South East, popularly known as “Ikonson Commander” and his deputy during separate joint operations with the Army and DSS operatives. Six IPOB/ESN suspects were also neutralized while two (2) others were arrested and several arms and ammunition with assorted charms were recovered during the operation.
ii. Repelling of IPOB attacks on Zone 13 Headquarters, Ukpo Dunukofia, Awka, Anambra State and recovery of weapons.
iii. Foiling of IPOB attack on Adani Police Division in Ozuani LGA of Enugu State.
iv. Foiling of IPOB/ESN attack at Orlu Area Command/Divisional Headquarters in the course of which nine (9) IPOB/ESN fighters were killed while one (1) was arrested alive. During the operation, five (5) assault weapons, assorted charms and all their five (5) operational vehicles were recovered.
v. Foiling of IPOB/ESN attack on Ugbuodo Police Station, Ebonyi State on 22nd May 2021 and killing of an IPOB/ESN fighter and recovery of firearms.
vi. Repelling of an IPOB/ESN attack on ‘B’ Division Police Headquarters, Awka in Anambra State on 23rd May 2021 in the course of which one of the attackers was shot dead, one (1) AK47 rifle, nine (9) pump action rifles and the three operational vehicles of the attackers were recovered with several of them escaping with bullet wounds.
vii. Utilisation of intelligence leading to the arrest of two dismissed soldiers that were providing military training and tactics to IPOB/ESN fighters. They include Lance Corporals Godswill Igwe and Livinus Owalum Barnabas. They were recruited by IPOB/ESN and have been training the secessionist fighters in their Forest Training camps in Abia and Delta States prior to their arrest and destruction of their camps in a Police-led operation.
viii. Arrest of Christian Kalu, and IPOB/ESN commander who confessed to leading operations that involved the killing of eleven (11) Police, Airforce and Customs personnel in Port Harcourt.
ix. Arrest, based on intelligence, of one Prince Tobechi Ononiwu, a California (USA) based major sponsor of IPOB. He hails from Ehime Mbano LGA Imo State.
x. Arrest of forty-four (44) IPOB/ESN suspects with established links to the recent attacks on Police personnel and facilities as well as other security operatives and facilities in the South-East and South-South parts of the country.
xi. Also recovered in various anti-separatist operations are one (1) General-Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG); Ten (10) AK-47 rifles; Four (4) Pump Action Rifles; Nine (9) other sophisticated locally fabricated Rifles; Four (4) locally fabricated pistols; Nineteen (19) AK-4 7 Magazines; Five hundred and forty-nine (549) 7.62mm live ammunition; and Ten (10) Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs),
‘Aside from these, on 29th April 2021, on the strength of intelligence, the Police in Ebonyi State Command also undertook a major anti-separatist operation in Onueke, Ezza North LGA of the State. The operation targeted a shrine that was being used as a hideout and operational base of IPOB. At the end of the exercise, two (2) of the IPOB/ESN fighters were neutralized, two (2) others were arrested, while several others escaped with bullet wounds. The shrine/camp was also destroyed, while three (3) AK47 rifles, five (5) pump action guns, four (4) locally fabricated pistols, several charms and IPOB logos were recovered.
‘Also, on the same date, while acting on intelligence, the Police undercover operatives intercepted a bus conveying high-calibre weaponry and ammunition to Umuahia from Abakaliki. In the course of searching the vehicle, seven hundred and fifty-three (753) GPMG live ammunition; two (2) AK 47 rifles; five (5) pump action guns; and six (6) pistols were recovered. The recovered items were being distributed to fuel the secessionist campaign in the Zone.
‘Just yesterday, 6th June 2021, the Imo State Police Command with the support of the Military and other security agencies successfully repelled an attempt by IPOB/ESN members to attack the Command Headquarters. In the course of the operation, five (5) of the attackers including Joseph Uka Nnachi (aka ‘Dragon’) and his second-in-command both of whom are deadly Commanders of IPOB/ESN who have been responsible for series of recent fatal attacks of security agents in the South East were neutralised, while one (1) was arrested alive. Follow-up operation led to the safe rescue of police personnel that had been held hostage over the past weeks by the outlawed group. Items recovered during the operation include four (4) AK 47 rifles stolen in the course of recent attacks on police personnel and facilities, six (6) Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), seven (7) AK 47 magazines, over two thousand (2,000) rounds of live ammunition and two operational vehicles of the attackers.
‘Aside from this, following an intelligence-led operation, a Special Police Operations Team monitored and successfully arrested a 7-man criminal syndicate with expertise in the local fabrication of AK 47 rifles and ammunition. The syndicate whose local fabrication enclave is in Jos, Plateau State where they were arrested, have been locally manufacturing the assault rifles and ammunition which they have been supplying to bandits and other criminal elements operating along Kaduna-Abuja and Funtua-Kankara expressways. Items recovered from them included eight (8) locally fabricated AK 47 rifle; eleven (11) AK 47 magazines; a Pistol; eight (8) firearms butts and a large cache of ammunition.
‘All these major achievements are clear evidence of your enhanced operational capacity and ability to motivate your personnel to national service. I once again sincerely commend you all. I am conscious of all the challenges that are currently impacting our commitment to optimal operational efficiency and I also assure you that I have been exploring all avenues towards addressing them. I am happy to note that Mr President is fully committed to our vision of restoring the primacy of the Nigeria Police and has initiated a number of presidential actions in this direction. Similarly, the Minister of Police Affairs and the leadership of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund are also supporting us, particularly, in the area of injecting funds to address our logistics, operational, and human capacity development needs.
‘However, I wish to re-emphasise the need for you to restore discipline across all ranks in your commands. As often said, discipline is the bedrock of policing and any officer that lacks this value is a threat not only to the Force but to the nation. You must as field commanders, exercise firm supervisory ability that will not only enhance discipline and professionalism but also strengthen operational efficiency. You must all be on your feet to attend to the conduct and welfare of your personnel on the field. Armchair police leadership is no longer acceptable. Hence you must undertake constant tours of your Divisions and lecture your personnel and forward reports to that effect to my office.
‘In addition, I have noticed that most of you still allow your officers to unnecessarily and indiscriminately impound vehicles at Police Station. Police facilities are not junkyards and must not be turned into one. Indeed, such acts create vulnerabilities that often engender attacks on our facilities. Accordingly, I ask you to return to your commands and undertake a major operation to clear all such indiscriminately impounded vehicles off your stations. The compliance to this directive shall be confirmed in the course of my ongoing tours to your commands and any Departmental Head, Zonal Commander, Commissioner of Police or Unit Head that is found wanting will be dealt with.
‘I have also received reports of the abuses associated with the use of SPY plate numbers and tainted glasses. For the avoidance of doubts, SPY plate numbers are for official use of some categories of corporate bodies, while tainted glasses permits are issued under some statutory regulations.
‘Unfortunately, several individuals have of late turn the use of SPY Plate Numbers and Tainted Glasses into a status symbol and have fraudulently obtained such. There have also been reports that some criminal elements are also utilising them as cover for their nefarious activities.
‘Accordingly, henceforth, the issuance of SPY plate numbers and tainted glasses permits are hereby suspended. The existing authorisations are being reviewed and a Protocol to regulate the issuance of such permits will be evolved. In due course, an enforcement mechanism that will enforce the standardised process of issuance of SPY plate numbers and tainted glasses will be implemented across the country. The Nigeria Police will work closely with the leadership of the Federal Road Safety Commission in this regard.
‘An emerging trend in which some motorists cover their plate numbers has also been noticed across the country. This practice inhibits our law enforcement operations and hence, is intolerable. Consequently, Commissioners of Police are tasked to as part of their operations, to arrest any motorist involved in this act.
‘In line with my speech during the launch of ‘Operation Restore Peace’, all Commissioners of Police across the country are to review and strengthen the security around all Command Headquarters and other Police Stations in their jurisdictions with a view to deterring or repelling any attempt to attack such facilities. Nigeria Police assets are critical national security assets that must be defended against insurrectionists and arsonists as provided for in Section 33, subsection 2 (a-c) of the Nigerian Constitution.
Furthermore, I have been receiving reports that some Commissioners of Police are still allowing the mounting of roadblocks in their jurisdictions. For the avoidance of doubts, roadblocks under any description or guise remain banned across the country and any officer found to be contravening this order will be held liable and dealt with firmly. Society has evolved. As law enforcement operatives, we must align our policing strategies to these societal dynamics, particularly, at this time that our policing functions are being built in the community policing model in which the citizens’ interests are prioritised.
Roadblocks as a policing model is becoming obsolete and unacceptable. Hence, we are working towards enhancing our intelligence-led and technology-driven policing capability as well as strengthening the Safer Highway Motorised Patrol Scheme as an alternative to roadblocks. Therefore, you are tasked to ensure that deployments within your commands are reviewed and your operations aligned to this new policing approach which discourages the disposition to limit the liberty of citizens through roadblocks which are known to be avenues for corrupt tendencies and other vices that widen the trust gap between the citizens and the Police. The X-Squad and Monitoring Unit have been mandated to commence a special operation across the country to enforce this directive.
‘The June 12 Democracy Day Celebration is days away. We are currently reviewing the security situation with a view to ensuring a hitch-free exercise. Details of this will form part of our discussion at this conference. I must, however, remind you all of the need to remain civil with law-abiding citizens, but firm with any person or group that may wish to take advantage of the event to threaten our internal security order.
‘As earlier mentioned, I will be continuing my duty tour of all the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT as well as Police Formations across the country commencing from this week. I look forward to meeting your personnel and further engaging you and strategic stakeholders in the course of the duty.’