Amid growing spate of abductions and attacks on citadels of learning, which has struck terror in parents, students and school authorities dazed, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has assured that it is working with the federal government and all stakeholders to ensure that schools are safe across the country.
Force public relations officer, CP Frank Mba, told LEADERSHIP exclusively yesterday in Abuja that the police have taken both kinetic and non-kinetic measures to strengthen security around schools nationwide.
“We are also actively investigating all past cases of kidnapping in schools with a view to arresting and bringing the perpetrators to book. This will help in bringing succour to the victims of the crimes and dealing with the impunity associated with such crimes”, the Force PRO noted.
He also said the police are also actively investigating all past cases of kidnapping in schools with a view to arresting and bringing the perpetrators to book.
He noted that this would help in bringing succour to the victims of the crimes and deal with the impunity associated with such crimes.
Mba stated: “We are working with the federal government and other stakeholders to implement and actualise the ‘Safe School Initiative’ programme.
“We are advising, encouraging and working with state governments to implement measures that would help in reducing the vulnerability of schools to attacks and making them harder targets for bandits. Such measures include provision of perimeter fencing around schools, adequate lighting, security alarm system, among others.
“We are taking advantage of our community policing programme to mobilise host communities where these schools are situated to collaborate with law enforcement agencies in providing real time surveillance for these schools.
“We are implementing high visibility policing patrol system around schools across the country by deploying more personnel and assets for both foot and motorised patrols.
“We are also deploying a huge number of undercover operatives for surveillance and intelligence gathering around vulnerable schools.
“We are also making arrangements to organise ad- hoc trainings and workshops on basic security awareness and survival skills for students and staff of schools in vulnerable locations.”
Similarly, the Federal capital Territory (FCT) Police Command said covert and overt operations are ongoing to tackle and check kidnapping in and around schools in the nation’s capital
The command’s spokesperson, ASP Mariam Yusuf, said the police will not relent in its efforts to secure the FCT and its facilities.
The FCT spokesperson also said there are operations currently being carried out to check the activities of criminals in the FCT.
“We have deployed covert and overt strategies to address the kidnappings and other criminal activities in the FCT,” she said.
But the Niger State Police Command said it is only the ministry of Education that can ascertain the desirability of such arrangements.
The Command’s Public Relations Officer, Wasiu Abiodun, who replied to a whatsapp question said, “Liaise with ministry of education, on what measures are they putting in place to protect the schools in conjunction with security agencies”.
On whether the police feel such arrangements would work, he said, “Hear from the ministry first”.
Attempt to get response from the state Commissioner for Education, Hajiya Hannatu Jibril Salihu, proved abortive but a senior officer of the ministry who prefer anonymity said ” the ministry depends on the police for risk assessment as far as security is concerned”
Also, the Plateau State Police Command disclosed that the State commissioner of Police, Edward Egbuka, has directed all the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) to collaborate with the management of schools in their area to ensure the protection of students against kidnappers and other social misfits
The command spokesman, ASP Gabriel Ogaba, said, “As we are talking right now, there was a great synergy between the police,traditional, religious leaders and schools authorities with a view to bring any unhealthy situation under control in their respective domain.”
When asked if the time has not come to have a Police Protection Squad for Schools, the command spokesman said, “That is your own opinion and if we have manpower we will do that . Like I said the CP has directed all the DPOs and schools’ management to work together to make sure that kidnapping is nipped in the bud.”
Against the backdrops of the continuous attack on schools and kidnap of students, Ogun State police command yesterday rued the speculation of having any special police protection squad for schools operating in the across the state.
The command’s PPRO, Abimbola Oyeyemi, who spoke with LEADERSHIP in Abeokuta, the state capital, said police authority in the state has put in place a security measure which has ensured that schools operating across the state enjoy the presence of regular police patrol teams, particularly those with boarding facilities which are given special attention.
Oyeyemi further explained that the command headquarters has mandated all the Divisional Police Officers in all its 70 Divisions, to increase security surveillance in their respective domains, with special attention on schools to make them feel the presence of the police in their area.
Also, the Cross River State Police Public Relations Officer, Irene Ugbo stated that recent development regarding hostage taking of school children is one issue which has given authority of the Nigeria Police headache.
Ugbo stated that measures are already on ground to ensure that such a thing doesn’t occur in the state.
The Imo State Police Command has also stressed that they have put machinery in place to protect students from attacks and kidnapping.
This position was made by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Bala Elkana, in a chat with LEADERSHIP.
According to him, the command has initiated a detachment whose responsibility is to patrol the environment where the various schools are located.
He noted that the police also intend to have continuous dialogue with school authorities with the aim of finding lasting solutions to the spate of attacks and kidnapping in the various schools.
The PPRO revealed that there are Divisional Police stations nearer to each school and advised the school authorities to work in close collaboration with the police so as to arrest any ugly situation.
Elkana said that security is everyone’s business and advised the school authorities to be vigilant and report any suspicious movement to the police.
The Police in Rivers State also said there has not been any form of attack on schools of kidnapping of students or teachers in the state.
However, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, SP Nnamdi Omoni, could not be reached to know if there were plans to Police Protection Squad for schools in the state.
But a senior police officer, who spoke with LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity, said there was no need to set up special squad for now in the state, as no incidents of such have been recorded so far.
He said: “I don’t think that what is needed in Rivers State for now because we have not recorded any incident of attack on schools or kidnapping of school children.”
Also, the spokesperson of the Jigawa State Police Command ASP Lawan Shisu Adam, said they are collaborating with sister security agencies and communities to ensure public safety, including schools in the wake growing kidnapping incidents and other criminal activities in Nigeria.
He said even though Jigawa is one of the peaceful states in the federation with fewer kidnapping incidents, the command is not taking the situation for granted, as it is tirelessly adopting all necessary measures to ensure maximum security of life and properties in the state.
Shisu added that, the presence of policemen at the schools is not all important but what is needed is building strong syst
em of intelligence gathering and mobilizing the community to take ownerships in monitoring and reporting any suspicious movement around their area to nearest security agencies.
“We are already strengthening community policing mechanism, and we are building the community capacity for effective participation in security matters including anti Kidnapping, banditry, arm robbery and general security” ASP Shisu declared.
Osun State police command is not yet considering a police protection squad for schools due to shortage of manpower but then the command has put in place adequate measures to protect schools against attack and kidnap of students.
Speaking with our correspondent in Osogbo, the Osun State police command public relations officer, Yemisi Opalola said the command has put in place police patrol teams who are on duty 24 hours a day to ensure safety of students and schools.
Besides, the command has made available to all the schools in the state emergency phone lines that can be called in case of attack for prompt response.
Mrs Opalola said, Osun State police command has consistently prepared schools for emergencies through organised sensitization programmes to help students and school authorities to deal with emergencies.
According to the police public relations officer (PPRO), Abia State command, Geoffrey Ogbonna, despite its challenges, the command has remained relentless in ensuring the security of lives and property of the people.
His words: “This of course include the pupils and students at all levels in the state even before the rise in insecurity.
The decision to create such a squad is the entire responsibility of the authorities. Ours is to comply with it.”
Superintendent Ogbonna added that even without making it public and the modus operandi, the command had been keeping watch over the schools in line with its constitutional responsibility.
Kwara State Police Command is making special security arrangements for all schools in the state, especially the boarding schools.
The police patrol of schools across the state has also been activated.
The command has requested for the list of all the schools in the state, especially boarding schools close to the state borderline’s for a special security arrangements.
The state’s commissioner of Police, Mohammed Bagega has also visited the three senatorial districts where he met and discussed with stakeholders on the need to be security conscious and work in tandem with security agencies and making available useful information as at when necessary.
The spokesman of the state police command, Ajayi Okasanmi disclosed this during an interview with LEADERSHIP in Ilorin, the state capital.
“The commissioner of police is also in constant touch with the vigilante and hunters in the state for prompt action on any emergency situations.
“He has reached out to school authority in the state on the need to beef up security in their schools and need to keep the police abreast of happenings in their schools from time to time. The police patrol of schools has also been activated,” Okasanmi stated.
In view of the continuous attack on schools and kidnap of students, and what the authorities are doing to protect the schools the Benue State Police Public Relations Officer DSP Catherine Anene in a message told our Correspondent that the command has strategically deployed officers in accordance with the information we are getting.
This is even as the PPRO said she is optimistic that such a thing will not happen to any school in Benue.
“Such things won’t happen in Benue state because we have our intelligence gathering squad giving us information and we are strategically deploying officers in accordance with the information we have”
She also appealed to schools’ proprietors, principals school management and even the student themselves to also be vigilant and report any suspicious movement to the security agents.
“I want to urge the management of all Schools across the State not to leave security issues only to security personnel because we need them to also give us information and also ensure that their in hiuse security are always on alert all times.”