- Category: National Security
- Published on Thursday, 08 December 2011 08:57
- Written by Admin
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Available data on death benefits paid by insurance firms to families of deceased policemen at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, indicated that 143 officers and men died in active service in June, this year; 122 in August, 119 in September, and 62 in November.
Checks further indicated that apart from a few out of the total figure of deaths recorded within the period who were killed in mob action or accidents, a large number were victims of attacks by the Boko Haram sect in Abuja and in the North-east while some lost their lives in encounters with armed robbers. It was learnt that records of some others who died on duty were yet to be officially computed as at press time, even as there are increasing reports of policemen killed by bandits almost daily, across the country.
Expectedly, fear of the unknown has gripped most of the officers and rank and file, especially those involved in operational duties, just as some of them who spoke with us on condition of anonymity, lamented that they were increasingly becoming endangered species. A Police Inspector, who didn’t want his name in print, said: “Our lives are no longer safe in the performance of our lawful duties. Whether it is broad daylight or at night, you have to keep praying to God to save your life as you put on the uniform and set out for work.
“Being a policeman has become a danger in itself, because apart from the fact that you are not loved by members of the society, the Boko Haram and armed robbers are waiting for you out there to put you out of circulation. The worst thing is that we do not even have the required weapons to confront them. And our men are dying like chicken everyday in large numbers. It is a sad development.” Reacting to the development, the Deputy Police Force Public Relations, Mr. Yemi Ajayi, neither disputed nor confirmed the figure of policemen who died in active service within the five months we investigated, but said it could not be described as alarming.
Ajayi, a Chief Superintendent of police [CSP], noted that the lives of policemen were exposed to danger whenever they were on duty, but however, gave assurance that the authorities are putting up more effective measures to ensure the safety of personnel. His words: “The number of policemen who died in active service cannot be seen as high or low based on the figure because death is death; the life of every policeman is sacrosanct. Every day the policeman goes out on duty his life is on the line, and that is why the authorities are showing serious concern over their safety. I do not know the source of your figures, but if it is from the insurance data, then it is authentic.
“There was a directive to the banks to provide armoured personnel carriers for policemen on escort duties. Though the level of compliance is not total, but it is appreciable in some major cities such as Lagos, Aba and Abuja. In Lagos for instance, there is a Police Trust Fund, which has helped in the safety of policemen with the purchase of several APCs for their use. Some other state governments are also complimenting the efforts of the banks by providing such facilities for police operations.
We hope that the situation would improve in due course.”
However, a frontline security promoter and National Co-ordinator of the controversial Police Equipment Foundation [PEF], Chief Kenny Martins, had told us shortly after the bombing of the Force Headquarters in Abuja, that the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Hafiz Ringim, didn’t possess the required weaponry to successfully confront the rampaging armed bandits or the Boko Haram menace, which claimed responsibility for the serial bomb blasts especially in the northern part of the country.
Martins, who spoke against the backdrop of his vast knowledge of the strength of police logistics including armament and other operational equipment in the course of executing PEF projects, said emphatically that the police could not in the present circumstances, frontally tackle the Boko Haram insurgence, describing the situation as hopeless. “What can the man [Ringim] do? Can he protect the Force Headquarters with bare hands? Then, if he cannot protect himself, how can he protect me or protect you where you are? Our police are just not well equipped to do the job; that is the reality. And from the look of things, where do we go from here, nowhere. We are just facing anarchy,” he declared.
Martins noted that PEF and a few security goons had long foreseen the emerging trend of armed banditry and terrorism, and were indeed, working towards averting the prevailing situation, but the efforts were thwarted by some powerful forces in government. His said: “We foresaw it; we said it that the trend of events and the deterioration of the security situation and circumstances in Nigeria nationally, and with individuals and corporate bodies was such that if you remembered, the banks were being robbed with bombs and the robbers would come and stay for eight hours all night long, blowing the banks up, and the police will not be able to get there.
“So, we foresaw all these things coming; and you know that once you are able to nip some of the other security problems in the bud, there is the tendency for the same people to apply themselves to other areas of our security challenges. What will be government's response? And let me tell you, all over the world, this is what we found out and this is where we still stand: no matter how much money ex-president Obasanjo, late Yar'Adua, and incumbent President Jonathan have kept aside, the government by itself cannot fund the resolution of security problems in Nigeria.
Let me tell you, the government's involvement in security is not up to 10 per cent of what is needed to solve security problems in Nigeria. Right now, as individuals and corporate bodies, we are spending 90 per cent as against the 10 per cent government is spending on security.” (Daily Sun)