Last Tuesday, youths attacked a police patrol team along College Road, Ifako Ijaiye area of Lagos, killing a policeman in the process. The mob also vandalized a patrol van and injured three others. Five of the criminals were arrested, and are under detention. This is hardly news, as such incidents occur with alarming regularity. A whopping 108 policemen were killed on duty, mostly by criminals and non-state actors between January and August this year.
Data of the period gathered and analyzed by Daily Trust Saturday showed that two policemen were killed by a ‘drunk driver’ in Oyo State around Orita Challenge on 25 August.
Also, Ismaila Jibrin (traffic warden) was reportedly killed by a hit and run driver in Keffi, Nassarawa State on July 4th, and Sergeant Oshodi was killed on March 1st, at Ijora Olopa Lagos by a ‘reckless river’.
One Sergeant Emmanuel was also killed by a colleague, Corporal Bala Adamu in Madagali, Adamawa State in January. Apart from these vehicular fatalities, and the peculiar case of Sergeant Emmanuel, over 100 policemen were killed on the job by mostly armed robbers and kidnappers.
The policemen were also killed in some instances by restive youth, in community clashes, during mob attacks and security operations in twenty seven states in the country.
A breakdown of the casualties according to numbers in each state shows that one policeman was killed during the eight month period in Adamawa, Enugu, Cross Rivers, Kano, Katsina, Ogun, Niger, Imo and Kebbi States.
Two policemen were killed in Ekiti and Anambra States and three in each of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Oyo, Sokoto and Plateau states, respectively.
Four policemen were killed in Borno and Delta states, five in Lagos State, six in Nasarawa and Edo states, eight in Benue State, nine in Kwara State, ten in Abuja, eleven in Rivers State and fourteen in Kaduna State.
On Thursday 30th August, gunmen in Woji community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area in Rivers State ambushed and killed two policemen on duty.
The police spokesman of the Rivers State Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni told Daily Trust Saturday that the command has intensified efforts to arrest the killers.
In Rigasa, Kaduna State, four men of the elite Inspector General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Team (IRT) were killed in a gunfight during an ambush by kidnappers attempting to rescue two arrested gang members.
The ‘IGP-IRT’, led by decorated Senior Police Officer Abba Kyari, was responsible for the arrest of the notorious kidnapping kingpin Chukwudi Onuamadike (Evans) including other criminal gangs terrorizing Kaduna, Abuja, Niger, Kano and Katsina states, among others.
A senior police officer, who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday over the killings, blamed it on logistical shortfalls in the Police Force. He said the challenges include a lack of mobility on the part of the force, adding that it is essential for police personnel to be well-motored and mobile. He noted that if you hit a police man at a checkpoint with a vehicle, it is possible for the perpetrator to drive away and speed off, and the police may not be able to embark on hot pursuit.
It was observed that training and retraining police men is essential to understanding self-protection while on duty, this, the source noted, cannot be overemphasized. Also, high visibility policing was suggested as another strategy to adopt so as to reduce the incidents of policemen being attacked to the barest minimum. He said another challenge is the issue of information sharing, noting that in many cases, even monetary incentives announced for witness to come forward with information yielded little result.
The source said modern policing requires a lot of logistics. “It’s not necessarily manpower, but the gadgets and equipment that can be used to protect our men in the line of duty. Yes, the men must be pro-active on duty, to ensure that the menace of criminals targeting policemen is stopped,” he said.
The source added: “As we see with criminals these days, the best way to perpetuate crime is to attack police men. We see a situation where armed robbers and kidnapers attack local police stations before going to attack and rob banks and other financial institutions within the area.”
Also, a policeman of the rank and file cadre told Daily Trust Saturday on condition of anonymity that policemen may be hindered from protecting themselves because of Force Order 237. He explains that the principle behind the order is to enable the policeman to protect himself when he believes his life is in danger.
However, he said, policemen are encumbered because of the backlash that follows over allegations of extra judicial killings. He said policemen are often persecuted when such occurs, and the armed rank and file suffer.
Police spokesman, acting Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Jimoh Moshood told Daily Trust Saturday that policemen killed within the period were not up to 108. “The figure is not near that at all, but we lost personnel in the crisis areas, like in Adamawa, Yobe, Borno, but it’s not huge.”
Moshood said: “We are doing our best to improve on the protection of personnel, to reduce the number of casualties to the barest by ensuring that all the men are well protected and re-jig the operational strategy.” “There is nothing wrong with Force Order 237, which protects the personnel, the Order gives the personnel the right to use firearms to protect themselves, and protect the people.”
“That is why it says when your life is in danger, you have the right to use firearms, and you equally can use the firearms to protect other persons. So, order 237 is not an encumbrance, it is just to ensure that there is accountability in the use of fire arms.”
Moshood said the force would continue to discharge its responsibility, which is the protection of all Nigerians. “We lost these personnel in the line of duty no doubt, as they do their best to protect the people and the nation.” He said the IGP has directed that we pay all their next-of-kin promptly, and he equally directed a befitting burial to late personnel. “We equally pay the Force benefits to the relatives of deceased personnel. It’s quite unfortunate, and we condole with their families.”
CREDIT: Haruna Ibrahim and Hassana Yusuf