BY OUR EDITORS
Recently, there has been an upsurge in attacks on police officers and stations especially in the South East and South south parts of the country. These attacks range from burning of police stations, killing of police officers and carting away of rifles and ammunition. This year alone, more than 30 police officers have been reportedly killed and seven police stations burnt in the two geographical zones. Killing of law enforcement officers is a grievous crime in any part of the world. Mere attack on them, elsewhere is considered felony. Sadly, in our view, this heinous act, in most cases go unpunished in Nigeria.
We recall that on January 8 this year, three Police Officers were killed in an attack on Onueke Police Station in Ezza South Local Government Area. On February 1, one Police Officer was killed in an attack on Omoba Police Station in Isiala Ngwa South council area in Abia State. Also on March 22, three Police Officers were also killed in Abia State. In Anambra State, on March 18, a Police Officer was killed at Police checkpoint at Neni , Anaocha local government area while the next day , another police man was killed at Ekwulobia Police Station, Nanka.
Similarly, according to reports, in February this year, three policemen were killed when gunmen attacked a zoological garden in Edo State. One civilian, identified as the managing director of the Ogba Zoological Gardens, was kidnapped in the attack while the three police officers who were guarding the garden when the attackers came were killed.
Just this week, unknown gunmen killed three police officers attached to former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo. A day before then, three police officers, were brutally killed in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, while four officers are still missing.
Regrettably, in the last one year, attacks on police stations are becoming a reoccurring decimal. The disturbing trend seem to be coordinated. We also recall that during the EndSars protest last year, The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had disclosed that not less than 60 police officers were killed by youth protesting police brutality while 205 police stations and formations across the country were damaged.
To curtail the rising insecurity in the state, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra had banned the use of vehicles with tinted glasses. According to him “So far, Police and Navy personnel on official duties at strategic checkpoints in various locations in the state were sporadically attacked, killed and their firearms taken away. Also, prison and police personnel conveying inmates to court were equally attacked and killed. Anambra State Government categorically condemns these attacks on our security personnel and is doing everything possible to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
It is gratifying to note that the police have arrested 16 people for complicity in a series of violent and unprovoked attacks on security operatives and facilities in the South east. Therefore, and in the considered opinion of this Newspaper, the killing of police officers and burning of police stations must stop. We also recall that the Boko Haram Insurgency started like this years ago.
Consequently, we call on the governors of the South east to rise up to this challenge before insurgency births in the region. This worrisome trend must be nipped in the bud. The country is yet to recover from the over 10 year insurgency in the north east and banditry in the North west.
This, again, brings to the fore this newspaper’s persistent call for the decentralization of the police force. In view of the rising insecurity in almost all the regions in the country, state police is definitely the way to go if we must pull the country from the brink. Recovering the country from bandits, gunmen, and Boko Haram is a task that must be done.
It is pertinent to emphasize that this situation is beyond rhetoric. It is bad enough that the civil populace is unduly exposed to security threats. If the security agencies themselves are also endangered, then the country is doomed. Having said this, the response from the security agencies may entail applying high-handedness. That, in itself, may escalate an already delicate matter.
What is required at this time on the part of the security agencies is a re-tooling of their strategies, retraining their personnel and re-equipping their armoury. Also, they must enhance their intelligence gathering mechanisms including taking their civilian compatriots into confidence. It is a fact that an attack on the security agencies is an indirect attack on the vulnerable civil populace. The solution requires that all hands must be on deck.