The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, on Sunday instructed all Command Commissioners of Police across the 36 states of the federation to mop-up arms and ammunition in unauthorised hands. In a press statement with Ref No. CZ.5300/FPRD/FHQ/ABJ/VOL.3/3, dated 16th August, 2020 and signed by DCP Frank Mba, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), the IGP said it was to forestall political brigandage before, during and after the forth-coming governorship election in Edo State.
According to Mba: “As part of preparations toward the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo States, as well as efforts by the police high command to curb the proliferation of prohibited firearms in the country, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP M.A Adamu, has ordered Commissioners of Police in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to immediately initiate appropriate actions to identify, isolate, disarm, arrest and prosecute any individual(s) or group(s) in possession of prohibited firearms.
“The directive has become necessary against the backdrop of the deliberate arming and movement of political thugs and other criminal elements across the country. In addition, the directive is targeted at addressing the proliferation and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms in the country which is contrary to the provisions of Chapter F.28 LFN 2004 of the Firearms Act”.
He added that the CPs were directed to immediately convene an enlightenment meeting of vigilante groups and quasi security outfits to ensure that their activities are in conformity with the extant laws guiding their establishment and operations.
He said that the IGP had observed “that several civil groups – vigilantes, quasi states and regional security outfits under various guises, are arming themselves with prohibited firearms and weapons in contravention of the provisions of the Firearms Act” which poses serious threat to national security.
The AUTHORITY therefore ask the IGP: What is the difference, in content and procedure, from previous instructions issued by the Police High Command especially at periods contiguous to elections, whether during general election, off-season election, bye-election or supplementary election? And are these statements merely regurgitated?
We also ask: Have previous statements made desired impact, by halting political brigandage or electoral fraud usually perpetrated by outrightly identifiable political gladiators and their thugs, or by some other criminal elements using military or police vehicles and adorning their uniforms, but are usually pronounced as fake officers and men by accused security agency? Our response is a resounding NO.
We wish to inform the IGP that providing security does not lie with revealing police signals to members of the public or asking the FPRO to issue statements. It lies fundamentally with putting profound measures to gather cock-sure intelligence, and more importantly nipping envisaged criminal activities in the bud.
With benefit of hindsight, IGPs had directed CPs, even Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs) or Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIGs), on the same course, but political brigandage continued unrestrainedly, with unabashed impunity. The latest was during the last governorship election in Kogi State.
In the end, what happened? Didn’t Nigerians witness the worst political brigandage, worse of all, perpetrated by persons in security uniform? Was the Woman Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not killed in her home? Was her home not burnt down? Has anyone been convicted or made to pay the price since then?
Did inexplicable electoral malfeasance not occur in Kogi, especially in Kogi-West during the referenced governorship election? Did the Police not tell us they had obtained “actionable intelligence” on planned political mayhem and electoral malpractices, weeks before that election? Did it make any difference? Your guess is accurate.
It could well be that security agencies worked hard and successfully frustrate worse mayhem during the Kogi election.
But since security agencies are primarily see to the observance of law and order, allowing any kind of slip is terrible and destroy their integrity.
It becomes worse if repeatedly, same security agents openly lend support to electoral malpractice or violence or do so themselves, yet their respective High Commands stoutly bring up alibi claiming that the felons whose dastardly acts were done in the open and witnessed by the voters with video evidence, are not one of their operatives but “hoodlums”.
What is worse, such political gangsterism occurs at a time of enforcing partial curfew for such election. If criminals could clone operational vehicles and uniforms of security agencies and operate with impunity, repeatedly and in the same manner, then something is definitely wrong and it becomes obvious we can’t achieve any different result using this same approach.
Now that the IGP has issued the instructions, thus leaking intelligence to members of the public, can we get a different result? Can the IGP guarantee Nigerians that with more intelligence at his disposal, which we at The AUTHORITY believe, is less than one per cent of what he disclosed that he will not again act like the Fire Brigade, chasing the felons after the act had been done.
We have no doubt that Nigeria has the one of the best Police in Africa. We have no doubt that our Police are superlative given the several international laurels they have garnered at international engagements. What is lacking is putting same attitude and operational approach that earned those international accolades to domestic policing.
If the IGP wants to stop rigging at elections or killings and apprehend murderers and hoodlums who masquerade as genuine law enforcement agents, who brazenly carry out electoral violence and malpractices, he can do such without much ado.
If the nation’s political umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) act differently and blacklist the usually shameless Collation Officer Vice-Chancellors, who unabashedly cast aspersion on their professorial pedigree, and being in men of integrity to collate electoral results, then our worries would vanish and we will enjoy improved political environment.
What the IGP should do beyond rhetoric is to make the 36 CPs vicariously liable for political infractions. He also should hold the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) responsible for breakdown of law and order in their divisions during election since there will be partial curfew and lockdown. Hoodlums cannot thwart the will of the electorate and commit murder and arson without being stopped if they perform their duties as they ought to do.
But if they act against the IGP’s instructions, then we shall continue to regurgitate the current political conundrum. Rhetoric can’t take us out of the woods; positive action will always do so.