Recently, Nigeria Police launched a probe into some arms that were declared missing. According to the force spokesman, Muyiwa Adejobi, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba had directed the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) in charge of the armoury to investigate the missing over 91,000 rifles in the armoury.
According to Adejobi, the force placed a high premium on the issue of arms and ammunition.
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It is stunning to also note that a report by the Auditor-General of the Federation revealed that no fewer than 178,459 pieces of armaments were missing from the police armoury without any formal report of their whereabouts.
The figure comprises 88,078 AK-47 rifles and 3,907 assorted rifles and pistols that could not be accounted for as of January 2020, neither were they reported to any higher authority, the report stated.
The Nigeria Police Force has said it is reconciling its records to ascertain the number of arms missing from its armoury.
The news of missing arms whose whereabouts cannot be traced is not palatable at this time of the nation’s history. One, the nation is approaching another election season and the political atmosphere is becoming tense by the seconds.
We have witnessed ugly incidents in the past where arms build up prior to election periods have scaled up politically- motivated assassinations, intimidations and other forms of electoral violence. Of serious note is that the coming election season is a transition period where one administration is giving way to a new administration and in most cases, as the case has always been, it may assume a do or die affair.
Two is that gun violence is escalating in the country in the form of terrorism, banditry, cultism, robbery, with attendant consequences such as murder, rape, maiming, among others.
If the assurance of the Nigeria Police is to be taken seriously, the probe into the missing arms should be approached with all amount of seriousness it requires. It should not be business as usual where outcomes of probes are swept under the carpet. There should be no sacred cows and those found wanting in the process should be adequately punished to serve as a deterrent to prospective offenders.
Another important thing is that the whereabouts of those arms should be painstakingly traced to mop them to stall arms falling into the wrong hands or arms being amassed where the public would not be safe.
It is also important for the recruitment process of the police to be rejigged to ensure that the force would cease to be a haven for people with criminal tendencies or people with dented records and questionable characters. It should not be a dumping ground for academic failures- where all manner of people looking for a place to seek cover to perpetrate evil.
While the public welcomes the recent call by the Police Service Commission (PSC) urging Nigerians to always raise alarm when they notice people of questionable characters seeking recruitment into the police force, I believe that the onus lies with them and other related and appropriate bodies to ensure that the recruitment process is sanitised to ensure that bad elements do not gain entrance into the force.
Thus, all hands must be on deck to ensure that this monster is put at bay once and for all!
Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu wrote through firstname.lastname@example.org