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2019, Security Challenges And The Police

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To the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, history beckons. With all his known and demonstrated capacity as a competent and quintessential police officer, Mr. Idris should, on one hand, be well aware that he is in the eye of the storm; that 2019 offers him an opportunity to further etch his name indelibly, in gold in the annals of the nation’s history in general, and the nation’s democratic process and the Nigeria Police Force in particular. It is also, on the other, a time that either by acts of omission or commission, the IGP could undo all that he has done in his entire career.

He was selected out of the unusually large number of top ranking police officers that jostled for the nation’s number one police job. The appointment of IGP Ibrahim Idris as the Inspector General of Police in June 2016 not unexpectedly generated disquiet as it ruffled several feathers in many quarters. No sooner was he brought on the saddle than those who were piqued went to work in the enterprise of a disparaging campaign against his person, actions and inactions as well as the institution as a whole.

Two years down the road, the nation has witnessed steady improvements in the performance and records of the police agency in their statutory duty of combating crime and criminality. From the feat that led to the resolution of the terror posed to the society for years by the dreadful, blood thirsty armed robber, Henry Chibueze, alias, Vampire, to the unraveling of the nightmarish puzzle of the kidnap kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike, alias, Evans, the Police have proved that given the right leadership impetus, criminals, no matter how clever or sophisticated, can be subdued, taken out of circulation or made to face the music of justice.

There have been an increasing sense of security by wayfarers on the Abuja – Kaduna, Suleja – Minna, Abuja – Lokoja – Okene and other highways across the length and breadth of the country.

Hitherto, these routes were considered risky passages due to the pervading presence of the dare devil sons and daughters of Lucifer. A renewed vigor carried out with increased deployment of modern equipment for crime detection by the police has similarly resulted in the thawing of cyber-related crimes which, before now, had proved intractable. With a good number of the criminals, the “yahoo boys”, since arrested, prospective entrants into cybercrimes have become wary with the knowledge that the law enforcement agents are on top of the game.

Lest we forget, the police under IGP Kpotun Idris have also shattered the horrifyingly deadly dens of cultists with the particularly outstanding liquidation of the blood-thirsty Badoo cultists in Ikorodu, Lagos and others in Ilorin and elsewhere around the country.

The litmus test for the police and its leadership is no doubt the agency’s performance on the critical and very crucial forthcoming general election. In this regard, certain questions are pertinent to ask. For one, have the police under Mr Idris demonstrated requisite professional capacity and ability to deliver in a project as cumbersome and complex as elections?

In other words, can the nation trust Mr Idris to resist the usual promptings or pressure to play the attack dog in the service of the ruling APC, its agents and other extraneous interest groups that would desire victory by whatever means? It was not so shocking when Mr. Suleiman Abba, a former IGP was recently reported as claiming that, during his tenure, the police were “severally pressured from above” to assist in the rigging of elections in favour of the then ruling party!

From 2016 when he came on board, Mr. Ibrahim Idris has supervised the security challenges thrown up by the governorship elections in Edo, Ekiti, Ondo and Osun states, as well as the re-run elections into various legislative houses held in Rivers, Kogi, Katsina and Bauchi states among others. While the performance of the police was not without lapses and incidents, they were, however, a great and positive departure from our experience of the roles played by the police during such assignments in the preceding years.

Under IGP Idris, it has never been reported of police personnel brazenly engaged in the acts of ballot box snatching or looking the other way while political thugs harassed agents of the opposition at polling booths. Police officers have not been caught or reported to have been involved in the stuffing of ballot boxes with thumb- printed voter cards or in the diversion of ballot papers or election result sheets on the way to the collation centres. It is to the credit of the present police high command that the nation has since stopped seeing the bizarre and embarrassing spectacle of masked, menacingly armed persons masquerading on polling days as police officers but who were dressed in civil clothing that bore neither name or number tags. 2019 presents an all together new ball game.

This seeming grim deduction is based on the observation that none of the major gladiators appear to be thinking of the prospects of failure. All and almost every one of them is willing to draw every and all from their awesome political weapons stockpiled in their arsenals in pursuit of victory. There are palpable signs on the horizon that there are strong tendencies for breach of the peace. The police will surely, therefore, have to go the extra mile in the discharge of their statutory obligation of maintaining law and order. Mr Ibrahim Idris will have to bring to bear his celebrated wealth of experience garnered from his long and varied involvement in policing and peace keeping in the service of the United Nations in other countries.

– Ahmed is a public affairs analyst



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