From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Inspector General of Police IGP, Usman Alkali Baba, has vowed to deal with criminals who have taken it upon themselves to attack the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices across the country.
The IGP, who described the act as barbaric, said the police would no longer tolerate the menace.
He said the police working with other security agencies are on top of the situation and called on the public to assist the security agencies with credible information to arrest the criminals and bring them to book.
The IGP, who made this known at a meeting he held with commissioners and above in Abuja, said it would no longer be business as usual for criminal groups causing unrest in the country.
He said the Nigeria Police has the requisite human capacity in terms of experience, strength of character, and professionalism to surmount the current and evolving challenges ahead of the 2023 general elections.
On the attack on INEC offices, the IGP said: “We have put measures in place to prevent future occurrences, apprehend the culprits and to bring the culprits to book
“We have also deployed personnel to deter the attacks, we have stepped up intelligence gathering, we have discovered that the criminal elements were using petrol bombs, dynamite at gunfire at distance to carry out their dastardly acts, but there will be hiding place for them.
“Nigeria Police Force and other Security Agencies are on top of the situation, we are calling on the members of the public to assist us with credible information about these criminals.”
The IGP, who used the occasion to present the police scorecard between January and November, said between January – November, said the police rescued a total of 865 kidnapped victims and arrested 383, kidnappers. The police also arrested 923 armed robbery suspects, 335 murder suspects and 473 suspected cultists.
Speaking further, the IGP, said “The meeting is being convened to evaluate our performance in the outgoing year; dissect operational challenges in relation to our policing mandate; review and perfect our election security governance plans, ahead of the 2023 General Elections; and collectively set our policing goals as we usher in the Year 2023.
Continuing the IGP stated:
“The outgoing year presented sets of security challenges which at some point evolved to threaten the security order and national cohesion of the country. Some of these threats relate to flashes of violent campaigns by terrorists and bandits in the Northern geopolitical zones; violent secessionist activities in the South East and adjoining States by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Eastern Security Network (ESN) and other pockets of factions of IPOB all of which were bent on engaging non-constitutional means to threaten the legitimacy of Government at all levels in the country. Other highly organised crimes that the Force had to grapple with in the outgoing Year include kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, illegal firearms trafficking and proliferation, cybercrime, gender-based violence and other transnational crimes.
“In spite of the enormity of these threats, particularly during the early part of the Year, I am delighted to note that with the review of our operational strategies, acquisition of new, specialised operational assets, enhanced intelligence capacity, more purposeful police-community relations framework, enhanced trust and stronger synergy between the Force, Military, the intelligence community and other security agencies and above all, the sacrifice, courage, loyalty and dedication of personnel of the Force across all ranks, we confronted the threats frontally, gallantly took the battle to the doorsteps of the criminal elements, and successfully stabilised the internal security order as the year winds down,” he said.
“This is evidenced by the fact that between January – November 2022 we have successfully rescued eight hundred and sixty-five (865) victims of kidnapping and arrested three hundred and eighty-three (383) kidnapping suspects. Similarly, a total of nine hundred and twenty-three (923) armed robbery suspects; three hundred and thirty-five (335) murder suspects; and four hundred and seventy-three (473) suspected cultists were also apprehended.
“Following the approval for the establishment of the Nigeria Police National Cybercrime Centre with the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the deployment of highly trained police cybercrime operatives to the newly established Unit, we have also enhanced our cybercrime investigation capacity leading to the arrest of a total of four hundred and seventy-eight (478) cybercrime suspects, while we continually deploy our unique INTERPOL tools to monitor and apprehend transnational criminal fugitives.
“During these internal security operations, we recovered a total of one thousand, one hundred and twenty-five (1,125) assorted firearms, and ten thousand, six hundred and fifty-three (10,653) assorted calibre of ammunition. We also apprehended six hundred and ninety-six (696) terror elements, bandits and secessionists; and two hundred and eighty-four (284) pipeline vandals across the country.
“All these major breakthroughs would not have been achieved without the loyalty and leadership skills of all of you here seated. For this, I specially salute your courage and commend you all for supporting my leadership and aiding the process of restoring the primacy of the Nigeria Police Force within the internal security framework of the country. I trust that you shall continue to march shoulder to shoulder with my leadership towards building on the gains we have recorded so far in our onslaught against criminal elements that are bent of negatively altering our national values for peace and communal security as we project into Year 2023.
“Our part, I assure you that we shall continue to offer a purposeful and all-inclusive leadership that will address your welfare, career, and operational concerns in such a manner as to inspire you to sustain your professional excellence in the line of your duties. Indeed, these have been and will remain the hallmarks of my leadership.
“It is in fact, in furtherance to this that I have ensured that the promotion regime in the Force under my leadership remained steady, timely and built strictly on merit and seniority. This is because as a seasoned Police Chief, I appreciate that promotion policy, if exposed to abuses, could demotivate officers, threaten effective command and control, and engender indiscipline in the Force like in any other organisation. However, if promotion is delivered in a standardised, meritorious, and transparent manner, anxiety and abuses will be removed, the system will remain stabilised, and officers will be elevated within their competencies, rather than patronage.
“Let me make it clear here that much as I acknowledge that special promotion could be desirable, my conviction is that in the overriding interest of the Force, it should be considered only in isolated and exceptional instances where the performances of the officers concerned are measurable and manifestly extraordinary as the case with the officers in Abia State that successfully busted the deadly trans-state bullion van armed robbery syndicate recently, all of whom have been approved for special promotion in acknowledgement of their gallantry, and professional excellence.
“It is, therefore, essential that you take this message back to personnel in your command that the days of abuse of the promotion process in the Force are over and it will be fruitless for any personnel to attempt to circumvent the professional order in relation to promotion under my watch. In this context, I am glad to note that so far within this year, a total of thirty-four thousand, five hundred and ninety-five (34, 595) personnel across all ranks have been promoted. We intend to sustain this policy in the coming Year.
“Aside this, in the outgoing year, we continued to strengthen our operational capacity with the acquisition of more critical operational assets. In furtherance to this, we recently commissioned and inducted five (5) state-of-the-art Police Combat Gunboats into the operations of the Marine Section of the Force. The resolve to acquire these critical assets was informed by the realisation that most crimes within the country are increasingly being perfected by criminal elements who take advantage of the security gaps on our waterways. We shall continue to strengthen our partnership with the Nigerian Navy (NN), the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), National Inland Waterways (NIWA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in deterring waterways borne crimes.
“Also within the year, we drew on our budgetary allocation to procure two hundred and twenty-one (221) patrol vehicles; fifty-five (55) lorries, ten (10) Tata Troop Carriers and fifteen (15) Armoured Personnel Carriers. To complement this effort, in January 2022, The Nigeria Police Trust Fund also procured and distributed to Commands and Formations across the nation two hundred (200) operational vehicles.
“Other operational items that were procured this year include five thousand, one hundred and sixty (5,160) Civil Disorder Control Equipment; six thousand, seven hundred and twenty-three (6,723) Bullet Proof Vests; five thousand, two hundred and twelve (5,212) Ballistic Helmets; two thousand, one hundred and ten (2,110) Anti-Riot Helmets all of which were acquired as part of our civil disorder and election security management pland. The Force also established an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and procured five (5) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance and operational support and three (3) Combat Drones to deal with complex special police operations across the country.
“In an effort to ensure that the Nigeria Police Force functions in line with international best practices, one of my visions was to overhaul the physical structures of Police Divisional Headquarters and replace them with model Police Stations. So far we have commissioned such ultra-modern, and fully furnished Police Stations and Barracks accommodations in Kogi, Imo, Rivers, Abia, Lagos, Borno, Yobe, Akwa-Ibom, Delta, Edo, Kwara, and Kaduna States as well as the FCT. Furthermore, On 7th December 2022 we launched the Nigeria Police Force Digitalised Central Motor Registry (CMR). The platform was created to digitalise and coordinate our management and response to incidents of stolen vehicles across the country.
“Despite the achievements recorded by the Force in the year under review, we fully recognise that the Year 2023 will present more complex challenges that will tax us professionally. This is largely because of the upcoming 2023 General Elections. Even now, the political space is already charged and made more complex with secessionist threats, political extremism, intolerance, and violence. Even more concerning is that some of these political-related threats are being encouraged by strategic state actors. The import of this is that, henceforth, we must deal with our routine crimes management mandates as well as politically motivated offences.
“Daunting as this challenge may be, I am encouraged by the fact that in you, the strategic Police Managers here seated, the Force has the requisite human capacity in terms of experience, strength of character, and professionalism to surmount these current and evolving challenges. I, therefore, encourage you not to let the Force Leadership and the nation down in relation to the charge by Mr. President that we do everything possible to bequeath to the nation a peaceful, fair, secure, and credible general elections in 2023.
“In line with the presidential charge, we have organised various Election Security trainings and have, as an outcome, developed an Election Duty Standard Operational Guidelines for Police Officers and other law enforcement agents on election duty. The pocketbook is currently being mass produced for the Police and other sister security agencies. It is to be noted that aside acting as a professional guide in our election security functions, the handbook will also be utilised to hold all law enforcement agents accountable in the evaluation of their conducts in the electoral process.
“My approach to the election security management operation is to adopt an all-inclusive, all strategic stakeholders strategy towards evolving a common front in the electoral governance duties. In furtherance to this I have held a meeting with the leadership of all the eighteen (18) registered political parties, INEC, Chief of Defence Staff, National Security Adviser, the Intelligence Community, and all other sister security agencies on 17th November, 2022. A follow-up strategic meeting was also held on 13th December, 2022 with the Heads of Operations drawn from the Military, the intelligence community and other sister security agencies.
“These engagements discussed issues relating to effective coordination and delivery of a credible electoral outcome ahead of the 2023 General Elections and the takeaways are being incorporated into our broad operational Action Plan with a view to coming up with an election security plan that will be potent enough to deter or bring anti-democratic elements to justice and keep the internal security order stabilised ahead of the election. It will also be civil enough to create a level playing political field for all parties and political actors while strengthening the confidence of the electorates in the electoral process.
“While we will sustain this leadership initiatives, I must remind you all that the Nigeria Police as the lead agency in the election security governance framework, your performance before, during and indeed, after the elections remains critical to the success of the exercise. In consequence, all national and global eyes shall be beamed on you. I charge you, therefore, to remain firm, professional, apolitical bearing in mind that you could be held accountable for your actions and inactions.
“Let me also use this opportunity to condole with all our colleagues who paid the supreme sacrifice in the line of their duty and those with life-threatening injuries in the line of their duties in the outgoing year. Our prayers, support and goodwill shall remain with them and their families now and eternally
“I wish to reassure all Nigerians and the global community of our firm determination to guarantee credible elections in 2023. In this drive, however, we solicit the cooperation of all citizens and strategic stakeholders, particularly, members of the fourth estate of the realm who as critical opinion moulders could wittingly or unwittingly become tools to advance hate speeches and expose the democratic space to avoidable tension.
“I also specially appreciate His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for continually inspiring and supporting us in our drive to reposition the Nigeria Police Force. I assure His Excellency that the Force will not let him down in the dream legacy of deepening democracy, neither will we let the nation down in the quest for a peaceful and security internal security space.”