Recently, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, publicly, confessed that the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa and Kogi states were disrupted by fake policemen, or humans in police uniforms that were not real. He said actual policemen were specially marked. Adamu made this very important confession before the State House press corps after a security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and others. You could as well call them ‘unknown policemen’ and you would be right. And that would bring back imageries of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s experience at his home in Ikeja, Lagos, and the ‘unknown soldier’ phenomenon. But this is Nigeria.
The IGP’s confession should worry you. The IGP clearly stated that politicians kitted some characters in police uniforms and used them to disrupt the elections. But ask, why uphold results of an election, which the lead internal security institution of government, and for the election, said was disrupted? But that’s issue for another day and that is not why you should be worried. The reason you should actually worry is that the same IGP had announced the deployment of over 66,000 policemen to ensure security during the Kogi and Bayelsa elections.
Read him: “The police, as the lead agency for internal security, are ready for the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states. We are aware of the security challenges in the two states and we have made adequate provisions to tackle any security challenges we might face.” So, what were the provisions? He said “in Bayelsa, we are deploying 31,041 personnel to cover the election. In Kogi, we are deploying 35,200 personnel. These personnel are to cover every terrain in both states. No tout will be allowed to disrupt the election”.
In total, 66,241 police personnel, both plain clothes and uniformed, armed and unarmed, were deployed to cover the elections in both states, yet, persons in fake police uniforms disrupted the exercise.
This suggests that either the fake policemen outnumbered the actual policemen deployed by IGP Adamu as to overpower them or were betteredarmed as to totally disrupt the elections and leave those declared as winners with blood in their hands. Besides, 42 persons were deployed by the Police Service Commission (PSC) to monitor activities of policemen during the elections. Almost a month afterwards, the PSC has been unable to publish the findings, or observations, of its 42 ambassadors. The very interesting thing here is that the police leadership announced that only 11 of those said to be the fake policemen that disrupted the election, have been arrested. Yes, 11 only. Not more.
If you want to get my meaning here, please read this alongside the narrative on the kidnap of Justice Ngozi Iheme-Nwosu of the Court of Appeal in Benin, Edo State, as authored by Nigeria’s best, Dame Comfort Obi, and published in The Source. The summary of that narrative is that Justice Iheme-Nwosu’s kidnappers picked her at a road block, ‘raid block’ actually, which they mounted freely inside Benin City. The story is that the kidnappers positioned a Hilux van by the roadside, like the police would do, waiting for victims. The kidnappers wore police uniforms. The kidnappers carried assault rifles during the ‘raid block,’ where they conducted a stop-and-search exercise. That ‘stop-and-search’ was actually a victim’s profiling strategy. So, the judge approached the ‘raid block’ believing it was mounted by actual policemen. The rest, as we say, is history.
When you put the IGP’s confession side by side how Justice Iheme-Nwosu was picked up by her kidnappers, you would begin to imagine the actual problem of insecurity in Nigeria and the concern of the ordinary folk who must travel long distances by road because they can’t afford to go by air. Still, those who travel by air are not spared because, from the airport to their respective homes, they are also confronted by ‘raid blocks’. The Court of Appeal justice was picked up inside Benin City. Not on the expressway to anywhere. It tells you that even city ‘raid blocks’ are suspect.
In the next few days, the annual Christmas pilgrimage to the countryside will begin. Many parents would like to take their children on road trips to make them see, perhaps, for the first time, the other side of Nigeria outside the cities and also enjoy something of their villages. Many would travel for different reasons. And they would face a myriad of ‘raid blocks’. They would face as many genuine ‘raid blocks’ mounted by genuine security operatives as they would be confronted with some mounted by fake operatives, including fake policemen, fake soldiers, fake customs personnel and even fake local government revenue collectors, all ‘raiding’ the wallets of the same set of travellers.
I recently made road trips between Lagos and Onitsha. One basic feature on that road is the number of ‘raid blocks’. Sometimes, I was happy seeing them because they gave me a sense of security knowing that, at almost every kilometre, there is a police, FRSC, Army, Customs or LG Revenue Collectors check-point. They gave me a sense of being secure. But on second thoughts, considering Justice Iheme-Nwosu’s experience and IGP Adamu’s confession, I travel with my heart in my hands because there is no way of telling that the next ‘raid block’ is mounted by genuine security personnel operating legally and in public safety interest, especially in an environment where armed policemen on duty had been seen to dress like motor-park touts.
This is an issue the IGP must address as a matter of urgent national importance. Not just the IGP. All heads of internal security and safety agencies like Customs, Federal Road Safety Commission, Civil Defence, etc., and local government revenue-collecting apparatus must do the same. The travelling public has to have a way of identifying genuine state operatives and fakes. This could be a sure way of making Nigerians travel without fear, especially in this era where even Civil Defence operatives bear firearms and use them freely and also mount ‘raid blocks’ on highways. But visit the Mammy Market at any police barracks to see how busy tailors are sewing uniforms. In the past, uniforms for policemen were issued directly from the tailoring department. Today, anyone could get the clothing materials from the market, sew them at the Mammy Market, decorate them with other accoutrements bought at same market and enter the streets as a policeman. He may not need a gun. Just torchlights. That’s what the IGP has said, in a nutshell.
As it is, the disgraceful conduct of the governorship election in Kogi State, with audio-visual evidence of brazen violence, ballot box-snatching, intimidation of electoral officers, murder, etc., has been explained away by a vital institution of the federal government as the handiwork of ‘fake policemen’ (Unknown Policemen). The Anikulapo-Kuti family was never able to identify who ‘unknown soldier’ was. That should be a lesson for Nigeria. Unfortunately, history has proved that humans never learn from it.