The disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has created a vacuum in the effort of the Nigeria Police to tackle criminality in the country, the acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Alkali Usman, has said.
Speaking at the presidential briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday, he also said that the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest dampened the morale of the personnel of the force.
He said the regular policemen and women have not been able to immediately slot into the vacuum created by the SARS disbandment even though efforts are ongoing to train them for the new role.
The acting IGP affirmed that the security situation stabilizes most times but with pockets of problems arise around the country.
Usman said that the police have recorded successes against secessionists and criminals in the South-East but they can not be prosecuted and brought to justice because of the ongoing strike by judiciary workers.
On the plan to recruit 10,000 new police personnel, he revealed that the process has reached 70 percent, assuring that the exercise would stick to the Federal Character principle.
Speaking on the effort to check insecurity in zones, he said: “The security situation of the country has been significantly stabilized from time to time. But you see, if it is stabilised for a week, then there are isolated disturbances coming from this zone in terms of either attack on police facilities or police personnel or even all law enforcement agencies including the military.
“And therefore, we decided to one, rejig the morale of our personnel, which has been a little bit dampen since the #EndSARS came and went away.
“With the proscription of SARS and the establishment of SWAT which has not been able to take off fully, we had a vacuum in tackling most of the violent crimes from a position of strength in terms of having a strike force that is dedicated for that, rather than having our conventional police doing the policing in a conventional way.
“So, therefore, we try to marshal back this courage of our personnel who have been involved in violent crimes and they lecture them and posted them to the anti-robbery sections, for anti-robbery patrols and the investigation of violent related crimes which involved of course robbery, kidnapping, banditry, cultism and so forth.
“Secondly, we decided to launch an operation which is tagged Operation Restore Peace and we targeted the South-East and South-South for the first phase of our operation.”
1,166 high profile criminals arrested since April 7
The acting IGP disclosed that the South-East and South-South zones have been reinforced with about 3,700 police personnel to tackle insecurity in the region, which led to the recent launch of Operation Restore Peace.
He explained: “We involved reinforcing these two zones with a total number of about 3,700 policemen drawn from our various units which include, police mobile force, the strike force, counterterrorism, the STS, IRT and these commands were imposed with this personnel with specific instructions, with an operation order that is targeted at stabilising the incessant attacks on police facilities, personnel, military and other violent crimes.
“The first operation in the South-East was done on the 18th of this month (May) in Enugu and we clearly stated our mission. We clearly stated our vision. And the six states in the South-East geopolitical zone came to Enugu.
“All the governors were represented by the deputy governors except one of Enugu, who personally participated. And we launched the operation.”
Usman revealed that a total of 1176 high profile criminals were arrested by the police from April 7, 2021, to date with a number of arms and ammunition also recovered.
He said: “For record purpose, I can briefly mention our recoveries and the successes. They go as follows: in terms of recovery after the launching of this operation, we’ve been able to recover the following weapons and arms from secessionist and the armed insurgents.
“One general-purpose machine gun, 10 AK-47 rifles, nine locally-made fabricated rifles, four locally-fabricated pistols in 19 AK-47 magazines.
“We have recovered over 5,419 live ammunition with 10 improvised explosive devices.
“In terms of arrest, we have 398 armed robbery suspects in our custody, 258 cult-related offenders, 222 murder suspects, 202 bandits related matters and the 86 suspects involved in case of kidnapping.
“This statistic I am giving you is from 7th of April to date. 434 firearms of various descriptions were also recovered. So, these are some of the things we are doing.”
Ortom’s attackers arrested
Answering a question on the recent attack on Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Usman said those involved have been arrested and their origins determined to be different from what the governor claimed.
He explained: “We’ve been able to uncover the assailants and we’ve been able to establish what actually happened contrary to what he said, and we’ve been able to get these people and know where they came from, how they came but the case is still under investigation and that is why there are some vital things that we have not been able to complete.
“But as for those who would pull the trigger and those who organise the crime, they are with us, they’ve been arrested.”