Over the weekend, the Police hierarchy announced that operatives deployed on Operation Puff Adder have killed nine suspected but heavily armed notorious criminal gang at the dreaded Akilbu Forest, off the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway. According to the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Deputy Commissioner of Police Frank Mba, two other members the gang escaped with gunshot injuries during the operation. Police in that operation recovered six Ak-47 rifles, one pump action gun, 1,206 rounds of Ak-47 ammunition, seven magazines, 28 cartridges and 158 expended shells.
Few days before Mr. Mba made public the information, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in a meeting with Strategic Police Managers, at the Force headquarters, Abuja, said since he put together special operatives to bring to an end threats of kidnapping, armed robbery and armed banditry in Kogi, Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna, and Katsina states, as well as the FCT, he has recorded remarkable achievements. Reeling out such achievements, he told the nation that his men had killed 10 suspected kidnappers and armed robbers, arrested 46 others, recovered 18 assorted arms (9 AK-47 rifles and 9 other locally fabricated/automatic weapons), 1,300 live AK-47 ammunition, 28 cartridges and 10 took into custody extra rifle magazines. Two kidnap victims were also safely rescued, he said.
There was also announcements by the police that some members of the gang that kidnapped Sheikh Ahmad Sulaiman, a famous Islamic scholar and staunch supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, h suspected kidnappers of a Channels Television reporter, Friday Okeregbe, who was whisked away somewhere near the Games Village, Abuja, by these hoodlums.
These sound sweet sounding stories calls for commendation of the police. At least, it showed acts of gallantry and bravery and brought succor to the family of the kidnapped ones. But, that is precisely where it ends.
Before the appointment of the current IGP, the nation have been inundated with series of reports of arrest of hundreds of suspected armed robbers and kidnappers around the notorious Birnin Gwari area of Southern Kaduna axis alone. Similarly, several other suspected criminals have reportedly been arrested around Zamfara, Sokoto, Benue and Kogi states. The suspects were always paraded by the police even before the appointment of Adamu’s predecessor, Mohammed Kpotun Idris, yet crime around those areas do not seem to abate.
Apart from the police, the Military and the State Security Service (SSS) have paraded several suspected criminals said to have been arrested either in action or at their hideouts. The Military in particular have provided evidence of several successful assaults on Boko Haram or other criminal elements, leading to the elimination of scores of them and the destruction of their weaponry and weapon manufacturing equipment.
Even as security agencies celebrated these successful operations, crime rate in the country appear not to be going down, raising questions on what happens after the parade of the suspects. Tongues are wagging on the level of successes recorded in the prosecution of the apprehended suspects.
Another worrisome issue is that inspite of the sacrifices made by the security agencies, including several of their personnel paying the supreme price, it appears crime fighting are approached in the same manner all the time. One discernible approach is the fire-brigade approach which makes them always go after suspected felons, rather than embark on pro-active prevention processes.
The continued invasion of communities around the Southern Kaduna axis by suspected criminal elements, for instance, have been going on for several months and with each passing day, motorists and residents of the area are forced to recount harrowing experiences. With the repair of the Abuja-Kaduna expressway two years ago, coupled with the take-off of the Abuja-Kaduna passenger train services, Nigerians had hoped that the security agencies would since then have carried out comprehensive threat analysis of the area and mapped out a more sustainable and successful security operation.
The seemingly unsuccessful crime fighting approach in restive communities in Plateau, Benue, and Zamfara states have not helped matters. When security mop-up of crime scenes and media parade of suspects seem not to be yielding desired results, it is expected that security experts should have changed approach so as to achieve sustainable results. The current approach of going after criminals do not seem to be giving Nigerians the desired results, which is why some people have asked for anal overhaul of the security architecture of the nation. If these agencies carry out their operations in particular way and results seem not to match expectations, or seem not to be reducing incidences of crimes, then, a different approach should be adopted.
The AUTHORITY believes the old order crime fighting approach do not work any longer. We therefore ask for the adoption of a robust intelligence-driven approach to the entire gamut of crime fighting. Happily, Nigeria’s security agencies have well-manned training outfits. What is required is putting square pegs in square holes to get it right. If, as it seems, criminal elements always operate ahead of intelligence services, then, something has gone wrong somewhere. And certainly could be traced to timely deployment of intelligence or lack of it. We have time and again harped on attaching proper measurement and evaluation to the deployment and promotion of security operatives. Simply transferring heads of security agencies in troubled areas without profiling their level of effectiveness and using such parameters for their elevation is like asking a student to proceed to the next class when he or she has not done well in the previous class.
We emphasise the urgency to attach responsibility to the posting of security officers and to set the parameters for assessing their effectiveness. Nigerians firmly believe our security agencies have the capacity to crush rising crime wave in the country. What is lacking is the approach to crime fighting and the current fire-brigade approach is certainly out dated.