In Nigeria, officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force are often not appreciated for the sacrifices they make to keep other citizens safe, and stories of their gallantry are hardly told; just like in the case of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Nuruddeen A. Sabo, who lost his wife to Boko Haram for always repelling their attacks on police stations where he served as Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Yobe State.
The Boko Haram insurgents, who were hunting for him, attacked and killed his wife, the late Hauwa H. Adama, on September 18, 2013 at a security base in Gujba, Yobe State.
Sabo enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force on June 10, 1994. After graduation from the Nigeria Police Academy Wudil, Kano, in 1996, he served in Adamawa, Lagos and was mobilised into the 6 Police Mobile Force, Maiduguri. He was demobilised and, in 2006, made the DPO of A Division Damaturu where he served for two years and was later posted to Geidam where his encounters with the dreaded insurgents began in 2009.
“In 2009, when I was still the DPO in Geidam, we got intelligence that the late leader of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, intended to come and launch attack in Geidam. So, I asked for reinforcement from the Yobe command headquarters and mobile policemen were sent to reinforce our team. We were there for about two weeks and maybe Yusuf heard about our preparedness, so they did not come to Geidambut instead went to Potiskum and attacked the police division. Subsequently, they would come to Geidamand try to attack but we would repel them,” he said.
The top cop said from there, he was posted to Damagum in 2011as DPO but the insurgents would bypass Damagum which is situated between Potiskum and Damaturu and attack the two divisions.
“In my divisions, I and my officers and men were always 24 hours on alert. We were not sleeping. Before they attack any location, they made surveillance to see how prepared the place was; so maybe they knew we were at alert at Damagum and they always jumped my division.
“After attacking Damaturu and Potiskum consistently, a new commissioner of police was posted to Yobe and he asked the Area Commander then, retired CP Ibrahim Tsafe, to look for two courageous CSPs that would man Damaturu and Potiskum divisions. So, I was nominated with my friend, the late CSP Aliyu. I was posted to Potiskum and he was posted to Damaturu. From there, they would come and attack Potiskum and we would repel them. They would go and attack Damaturu and we would repel them. But four months after leaving Damagum, they succeeded in attacking the division. They attacked, injured and killed so many people and then set the division ablaze.”
The gallant police officer, however, said a new Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) overseeing the northeast asked that he be removed as DPO Potiskum and his friend, the late Aliyu Mohammed be posted there. But 40 days after he left and the late Mohammed took over, the insurgents attacked and killed the DPO and many others.
Further recounting his ordeals with the Boko Haram, he said while serving as second in command in Gashua area command, there were incessant attacks on Gujba and there was a headhunt for a brave officer who would take charge of the division.
He said, “I was directed to go and meet the CP for debriefing. When I met him, he told me that he wanted to post me toGujba. Before then, a letter had been written to the command by the Department of State Services (DSS) that they arrested some Boko Haram suspects and during interrogation, they revealed that they were looking for me to kill me anywhere they saw me because wherever I was the DPO, they never succeeded in attacking the division. The DSS advised that I upgrade my security and so the CP asked if I was prepared to go to Gujba and I agreed that it was God that would protect me. So, I was sent to Gujba as DPO. The insurgents would come and we would repel them.
“But I applied for four days casual leave to go and see my aged mother in my home town Azare and I left my wife behind. Two days after I left, Boko Haram launched a ferocious attack on the camp where we lived with a major and about 30 military personnel. All the military personnel and the mobile police fled and left my wife and her sister behind. As the insurgents opened my door, they shot my wife in the chest, thinking I was the one. When they realised it was my wife, they went round searching for me. They did not see me so they went outside and threw a launcher on the house and it burst into flames. I came the following morning and I met the corpse of my wife burnt beyond recognition.”
Sabo said though he was traumatised by the incident, he stayed on in Gujba until another CP came and decided to redeploy him to Damaturu as 2-i-C Area Command. He said even at the area command, Boko Haram would come and they would fend off their attacks.
He said, “After some time, that letter the DSS wrote to the CP was forwarded to Force Headquarters in Abuja and when the erstwhile IG, Mohammed Abubakar, saw it, he was shocked. He asked, ‘Why did you allow this to happen when the DSS had already shared intelligence and you allowed him to stay in Yobe up till the time he lost his wife?’.”
The IG then ordered him transferred to FCT Command in January 2014. He has served as DPO in Kwali, Kubwa and Gwarinpa before he was promoted to Assistant Commissioner of Police and posted as Area Commander Life Camp and Metro all in Abuja. Currently serving as the Deputy Commissioner Operations of the FCT Command, Sabo said he was never compensated, promoted nor did he receive any therapy to help him deal with the trauma of losing his wife and in-law in such a grisly manner.
He, however, said the people had always appreciated him for his hard work and bravery, adding that he always received maximum cooperation from residents wherever he worked.
He said while he held off Boko Haram attacks in the five vulnerable divisions of Geidam, Damagum, Potiskum, Gashua and Gujba, some people insinuated that he used magic. But he insisted that God was his source of bravery and that he always led his team from the front.
He explained that his secret of organising formidable units that resisted Boko Haram was being on alert 24/7 and being with his officers and men always. He said that he organised two six-hourly shifts to ensure alertness at the divisions he headed.
“Boko Haram used to do surveillance. They were in mufti always and they would send people to gather intelligence for them before attacking. They will never strike until they know they have advantage over you and they will strike and succeed. So, when they know you are always at alert, they hardly come. Even when they come and you are at alert, you will repel them,” he said.
Sabo added that he cultivates and maintains fruitful relationships with residents of communities where he served and they would always furnish him with credible information about the movement of insurgents and other criminals.
Daily Trust on Sundayfurther gathered that Sabo, while serving as DPO, would constantly keep the cells clean and would be diligent enough to ensure that no innocent man was jailed or arraigned in court.
He also said as Area Commander Metro, his concerted efforts contributed to stopping Shiites from wrecking more havoc on Abuja than they did when they came out severally protesting the incarceration of their leader.
Sabo advised junior and younger police officers to always be courageous, as he always selected only brave officers and men in his team whenever he was going out for operations.
“If you don’t select courageous people, you will put yourself in danger as a leader,” he added.