BY OUR CORRESPONDENTS
In the quest for a permanent solution to the spate of insecurity in the country, especially growing attacks on schools, leading socio-cultural organisations in the country have again called for the adoption of state police.
They insisted that the state police arrangement was the only way out of the security challenges.
This, they said, was possible without shifting attention from the ongoing critical projects embarked on by the government.
Speaking separately with LEADERSHIP, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) said the country was facing an unprecedented security challenge, insisting that much won’t be achieved if the central security command is in Abuja instead of decentralizing the police.
Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said the country must be restructured and security architecture changed for better policing.
“What is paramount now is for the federal government to do restructuring, if you restructure, we will have state police. That will solve the problem. Why the federal government failed to restructure the country, I don’t know?
“Community policing is the most effective thing, but the government has failed to do that. We are operating a constitution where the governor of a state has no control over the police, they are just lame ducks, and you call them the chief security officer of the state.
“If there is restructuring, each state will take care of itself, state police, local government police, community police will be created.
“How can you take care of Abeokuta (Ogun State) from Abuja? The priority is to get the state governor to take care of their security. There must be restructuring of the country now,” Adebanjo said, adding that the idea of closing boarding schools in some parts of the country was the reason why responsibility of securing the state should be given to the state governors.
The Afenifere leader added that state governors know how to handle the security situation in their states while the community police know how to handle security of their communities.
“That is the reality they don’t want to appreciate. I believe the federal government has a private agenda of controlling the police,” he alleged.
For his part, another Afenifere leader, Senator Femi Okurounmu, said the federal government does not need to abandon most of its projects embarked upon because of insecurity, insisting that they have to complete the projects.
“If they abandon all the projects now, it means all the money they have spent on it is wasted.
“They should stop their corruption, if they minimise the leakages through corruption, they have a lot to take care of the security situation, and look after the security of the country.
“We can’t because of the bandits close down boarding schools, and we won’t be able to educate our children. They just have to tighten security; a lot of money is budgeted for security; they just embezzle it. All the money budgeted for security is being embezzled by the Generals,” Okurounmu also alleged.
Also, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said the issue of insecurity confronting the nation has nothing to do with funding, noting that the country needs sincerity of purpose and the will to tackle the challenge frontally.
National president of Ohanaeze Youth Council, Comrade Igboayaka Igboayaka, told LEADERSHIP that if all projects are stopped without the required proactive measures in place including fine-tuning of strategies, it’s like to result in the same situation.
He charged the federal government to confront the security challenge with renewed vigour and look inwards for saboteurs harvesting from the insecurity challenge.
“If you have all the funds in the world without mapping out workable strategy, place the right personnel to head strategic positions, we are not likely to get it right. Security needs to be decentralised,” the youth leader said.
Igboayaka also stressed that no sector of the economy should be allowed to suffer, adding that rather, they should be attended to simultaneously.
On closure of schools in the North as a result of insecurity, he said it is not the solution, even as he suggested that adequate security measures should be put in place within and outside the school premises.
For his part, the president, Cross River State chapter of Ohanaeze Indigbo, Barr Ugorji Nwabueze, urged the federal government to seek for solution from other nations of the world that may have had similar experience in the past and ask them how they managed to overcome their security challenges.
He also insisted that community policing will solve the current insecurity problem.
Similarly, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) called for the decentralisation of the Nigeria Police Force, saying it may be superfluous to suggest that the federal government should suspend some projects and programmes in order to direct more funds to recruit, train, equip and motivate security personnel to better tackle insecurity.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt, PANDEF’s national publicity secretary, Ken Robinson, said what is needed is prioritisation, greater accountability and transparency in governance.
“The state of insecurity in the country is frightening, it is evident that the safety of lives and property has become the greatest concern of citizens. One has to be alive first, before anything else.
“Suggestions that the federal government should suspend some projects and programmes to direct more funds to recruit, train, equip and motivate security personnel to better tackle insecurity, maybe superfluous.
“We cannot discontinue critical projects like road infrastructure, healthcare, education and energy, which contribute to the general wellbeing of citizens. What is needed is prioritisation, greater accountability and transparency in governance,” Robinson said.
On the closure of schools, the PANDEF spokesman said it would be inappropriate to continue to have boarding schools in states where armed bandits are attacking schools.
“With the persistent cases of kidnapping of students from their schools and the apparent helplessness of the security agencies, it would be inappropriate to continue to have boarding schools in place, especially in states pervaded by these heartless bandits. Proper security of the communities must be made,” he added.
But the apex northern socio-cultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said it shared in the opinion of some Nigerians suggesting that some projects and programmes of federal government should be put on hold in order to free money to recruit, train, equip and motivate security personnel to tackle insecurity in the country.
National publicity secretary of the forum, Mr Emmanuel Yawe, said, “With the level of insecurity in Nigeria, it will be difficult to execute any meaningful projects. We share the views of people who have this opinion. Security is the number one project now and should take priority over even boarding schools.”
He added that the government at all levels should prioritise security above any other thing with a view to tackling the insecurity ravaging the country.
Also, the immediate past secretary-general of the ACF, Mr Anthony Sani, advised the federal government to let the money for recruitment and sustenance of mercenaries be used to help recruit, train, equip and motivate security personnel to fight insecurity.
Funding Has Been A Major Challenge – Police
Lending its voice to the debate, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has said that funding has always been the major challenge of the Force.
Force PRO, Frank Mba, who stated this, said the force would always appreciate any additional funding.
He said, “The Nigeria Police Force has consistently suffered from problems of underfunding. This has impacted negatively on the over-all performance and effectiveness of the Force.”
Also, a security expert and a retired police officer, Ibrahim Adamu, said funding security agencies is very crucial and should be given all attention in order for them to succeed in tackling insecurity.
He also said proper utilisation of security budgets was critical as it has always been evident that some people mismanage funds meant for security and in some cases, they embezzle it totally, adding that it was a cause for concern.
Recruit More Personnel, Ortom Urges FG
For his part, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has appealed to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to quickly resolve issues with the Police Service Commission (PSC) in order to resume the recruitment of 10,000 police personnel annually to meet the demand of securing Nigeria.
Ortom made the appeal when he paid a condolence visit to a retired Commissioner of Police in the State, Abel Aghannya, whose wife was murdered in the state on Friday.
According to him, the recruitment of more policemen has become necessary due to the increase in population and level of crime in the society to ensure that the society is better policed.
The governor charged citizens of the state in the meantime to be each other’s keepers, urging the vigilante groups to step up their surveillance to checkmate criminal activities in their domains.
He condemned the gruesome killing of Mrs Aghannya, describing her as a loving and kind-hearted woman who had no issues with anybody both in her business and politics.
Earlier, the former Commissioner of Police, Abel Aghannya, refuted the story making the rounds that his wife was killed by assassins, noting that she may have been killed by people who broke into the house to steal.
Aghannya, who described the death of his wife as painful, also stressed the need for the Federal Government to do something about recruitment of more police officers as it was the only way to reduce criminality in the country.
Narrating the incident that led to his wife’s death, he said he received a call from his daughter who is expected to get married in April that her mother was not picking her calls on Friday.
“Hearing this, I quickly called someone who told me that he sighted my wife’s car somewhere. So, I decided to send a message to her phone saying if it is kidnappers, I am ready to negotiate with them.
“My cousin went to the house, opened the window and saw her lying on the ground and when he went in, he saw her dead body.
“From investigation, it is possible that someone jumped into the house and killed her. My son had earlier called her on that Friday at about 12:30pm but her phone was switched off. Probably, it is at that time, she was murdered. She might have recognised the person, and that was why she was killed
“Benue is home to me and my wife. I met and married my wife in Taraku, Gwer local government, where her father was a businessman. We later left for Kwande local government area where she taught and started business. I have retired for the past 12 years and my late wife lived in Makurdi for the past 24 years. She is loved by Benue people. I will miss her.
“I visited my wife and came back on Wednesday just for her to be killed on Friday, this is so painful”.
Troops Kill Scores Of Terrorists In Lake Chad
In another development, the Nigerian Army has disclosed that troops eliminated several Boko Haram Terrorists along the Lake Chad and Tumbus, destroying gun trucks and capturing arms, and ammunition.
The director, Army public relations, Brig Gen Mohammed Yerima, in a statement, said sadly one officer and three gallant soldiers paid the supreme price in the encounter.
He said the combined troops of the Sector 3 operation Lafiya Dole with support from the Air Task Force on 13 March 2021 embarked on clearance patrol along the fringes of the Lake Chad and cleared Daban Massara and Ali Sherifti villages among other settlements before they harbored for replenishment and retrofitting.
He noted that as they commenced the second phase of their operations and advancing along the Kukawa – Monguno road, about 14 kilometers to their base, the troops sighted BHTs/ISWAP gun trucks and swiftly commenced pursuit with heavy fire and deft maneuver.
… Kill 41 Terrorists, Rescue 60 Women, Children In Borno
Also, troops of Operation Lafiya have neutralised 41 Boko Haram Terrorists/Islamic State West Africa Province and rescued 60 elderly women and children in Borno State.
The director, Army public relations, Brig Gen Mohammed Yerima, in a statement, said the troops on March 15, 2021 who maintained aggressive posture, conducted a fighting patrol along Gulwa and Musuri in Gamboru Ngala local government area of Borno State.
He said at Musuri, troops encountered elements of the terrorist group and swiftly engaged them in firefight which lasted for about 45 minutes.
“With superior firepower, troops ultimately dominated the area after neutralizing 41 of the terrorists. They also recovered sophisticated weapons and rescued 60 elderly women and children who were in the terrorists’ captivity,” he said
According to him, the troops recovered; 12 AK47 rifles, 8 Fabric Nationale (FN) rifles, a motorcycle, 6 bicycles, mechanic tool boxes, a sewing machine, large quantity of batteries used for making of Improvise Explosive Devices and sex enhancement drugs amongst other things.
He added that the troops are in high fighting spirit and determined as ever to clear the entire region and country of vestiges of Boko Haram terrorists.