This is not the best of times for the men and officers of the Nigeria Police. Since April 5, when hoodlums attacked the Imo Police Command and set ablaze vehicles parked within the premises as well as exhibits, no fewer than 46 other attacks had occurred in the South-East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi and Imo.
The same scenario has played out in the South- South states of Akwa Ibom, Delta and Rivers, in which no less than 30 policemen were killed. In addition, the unknown gunmen carted away their weapons after looting the armouries. It would be recalled that in the attack on the country home of Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, three people were killed by the hoodlums.
A more recent incident was Saturday, May 8 in which seven policemen were gunned down in three separate attacks in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and five dispatched to the great beyond in Akwa Ibom State. Just last Thursday, the Police Divisional headquarters in Bende, Abia State was razed.
This has led to not a few accusations and counter-accusations among the governor and the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and the militant wing of the separatist group, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
Rather than dampen their spirits, the officers said they and their men cannot be cowed by the attacks.
In separate interviews with Sunday Telegraph, Commissioners of Police in Delta, Edo, Imo and Rivers states as well as the Commands’ spokespersons in Abia, Anambra and Ebonyi states, were unanimous in their responses that they remained undaunted in their duty of securing lives and properties of the citizenry.
Commissioner of Police, Rivers Command, Friday Eboka, when Governor Nyesom Wike visited the Command after the Saturday killings, said he and his men would not be deterred.
Speaking on behalf of the Acting Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba Usman, he decried the “unjustifiable attacks” on his men. Eboka told the governor that the armed men who attacked three different police formations for no justifiable reason gruesomely killed seven officers, while two of- ficers, who sustained bullet injuries were receiving treatment.
He said:“It is noteworthy that the hoodlums did not escape without suffering fatalities, as two of them lost their lives and their Hilux riddled with bullets was abandoned.
Thanks to RRT Commander and other Tactical Teams, who responded to the distress call. “Your visit today will further boost their morale. I therefore, want to use this opportunity to re-assure the good people of Rivers State of our resolve to continue to protect their lives and property.”
This is the same line of thought towed by his counterparts in Imo and Delta states. Commissioner of Police in charge of Imo, Abutu Yaro, said the attacks were temporary challenges which will soon pass away.
He urged residents of the state to rest assured that there is hope and the seeming sense of insecurity will definitely dissipate and relative peace be restored to the state. He said: “We are adopting a multilateral approach to policing and not just a combative stance.
All stakeholders are being engaged to own the effort at securing our society. We are open and receptive to their ideas, opinions and counsel. “This is why we are assuring everybody that there is hope. There is no problem in a world that does not have an end.
The challenges may fester but human civilisation has outgrown many nuisances and accommodated many unimaginable problems in the course of time. The resilience of man is unimaginable. “That is why we do not want people to lose hope as if we have come to the end of the road or as if we are at the bottom of an abyss.
This is a temporary situation and certainly we must navigate out of this situation.” On how he feels about the attack on Police facilities and personnel, CP Yaro said that such challenges go with the job of policing. He stressed that policing naturally has its peculiar challenges and is the same all over the world.
“We are not unmindful of the attack on our personnel and facilities but we are already trained with the mindset that Policing is a challenging engagement and having that at the back of our minds, we keep ourselves abreast of improved strategies to manage any evolving new challenge. It is not unusual to be faced with such lifethreatening challenges; it is the same in all climes.
“The most important thing is to continue to devise new tactical strategies, innovative applications and constantly evolving new approaches to tackling the problems. Nevertheless, every challenge of this nature we encounter in the line of duty depicts a phase and these phases must pass.
“To my officers and men, I tell them to continue to be resilient and to be effective in self-preservatory responses which are very key to law enforcement – preserve yourself, preserve the environment and preserve others.
And as long as these ideals are continually reinforced in our mind and work, we will get out of the situation faster, while other alternative and supplementary approaches are sustained.”
He finds a soul mate in Delta State Commissioner of Police, Ali Muhammed Ari, who said: “Although the challenge is enormous, especially when our men are being ambushed and killed in the course of duty and their rifles taken away.
“The challenge becomes worrisome when they brandish dangerous weapons. But we are undeterred. Our Divisional Police Officers (DPOs), Tactical Commanders, officers and men of the command have been encouraged to maintain and sustain the tempo in the fight against criminals in the state.”
The Command spokespersons in Ebonyi, Abia and Anambra re-echoed their bosses.
The Police Public relations Officer, Ebonyi Command, Deputy Superintendent of Police Loveth Odah, summed up her colleagues feelings: “Despite the attacks on our personnel and facilities or the whole loses that we have suffered, from last October till today, which we can always call it EndSARS, the command remains undaunted.
We are not disappointed, and we are not discouraged because of the unprovoked killings of policemen, attacks on police stations. “We are committed to the provision of security in all parts of Ebonyi State. Nigeria Police force is committed to the provision of security in all parts of the state.
“We have placed strategies to address the present challenges facing us today. Ebonyi State residents should remain security conscious and continue to partner with us until we regain our peaceful state again.
“I believe that whatever that is happening is the aftermath of the EndSARS because people, who were pushing for EndSARS were criminals but Nigerians could not notice it on time. So, it has given birth to lawlessness, it has given birth to the present situation now but we will not relent. We will continue to repeal them and we will continue to ensure that lawlessness does not rule in Ebonyi and Nigeria at large.”
What measures are they putting in place to tackle the menace? “The police are collaborating with some security outfits to tackle the menace of the gunmen, the move is aimed at putting a “more formidable front” against the gunmen,” said a source who spoke to Sunday Telegraph on condition of anonymity.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Anambra State Command, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, said he was not aware of the threats on the officers and men of the command but added that the command cannot fail to discharge its lawful duties as policemen for that reason.
“We have made more deployments to major flash points in the state and we have commenced a crackdown on cultists and other criminals in the state,” he said.
In Edo State, which has not witnessed any attack, the Command has taken proactive measures in safeguarding the critical infrastructure.
At the headquarters of the Edo State Police Command located at Central Road, GRA Benin, the police mounted a roadblock with used tires, while stationing two mobile policemen at Court Road axis.
The Department of State Security (DSS), also on the same road, has a similar roadblock sideways, about 500 meters from their office