“This is the only country in the world where roads are blocked with sticks, drums and all sorts of things in the name of police check points,” The opening statement was made by the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar some two years ago at an interactive session he had with traditional rulers, leaders of thought, businessmen and town union executives in Awka, Anambra State.
Abubakar also said then that with the abolition of police road blocks, Nigerians have been saved about N6.43tn in terms of police extortion, losses and time management.
He added also that with the removal of the road blocks, 70 per cent of the corruption in the police force had been removed.
The police IG cannot be faulted; his arguments too were very sound because given the realities on the ground then, Nigerians couldn’t have asked for more from the police chief.
At the time Abubakar came on board, Nigerians were sorely faced with the Boko Haram challenge in parts of the north and pockets of kidnap cases in parts of the south east. But the times and the realities on the ground as I write this piece have vastly changed.
First, the task of fighting the insurgents have been largely removed from the shoulders of the police; now the Defence Headquarters coordinates every counter attacks aimed at dislodging the insurgents. Second, kidnapping has since spread to almost every state in the south and parts of the middle belt. When the order to dismantle police check points was given, the police hierarchy will agree with me that a certain Kelvin, the kidnap kingpin from one obscure area in Delta State, would ever emerge on the centre stage of crime taking people hostage with little or no difficulties. It was also not envisaged that the same gang could boldly raise cells across the south and parts of the middle belt.
Third, the issue of trafficking in persons was then not placed on the front burner of national security discourse. All these have come out boldly to challenge our collective resolve as a nation to fight crimes and criminality.
Today, because of the manifest absence of the police on the highways, these criminal activities are thriving. Children are now trafficked from all corners of the country to centres of commercial activities. Today, babies are born and sold without the fear of God to couples who have been facing the trauma of childlessness. They do this with reckless abandon and the next day, lavish ceremonies are staged to celebrate their new baby and testimonies offered in churches.
Today, again, many Nigerians have difficulties visiting their villages because of the fear of being kidnapped. Beyond taking a trip to one’s village, those who have been blessed by God with economic prosperity now face the challenge of putting up buildings in their home towns. Chances are that if you could not be kidnapped, a close relative of yours could become an easier prey. Those who have been visiting their villages and also have succeeded in putting up houses there without any molestation, should count themselves extremely lucky.
These criminal activities are blossoming today in the society because our roads have been left unmanned or adequately not patrolled by the police. The truth is that the mere presence of the police on any route acts as deterrence to criminal activities. The stop-and-check activities of the police form an integral part of modern policing all over the world. Nothing stops the police, if not for the IG’s order, from embarking on the stop-and-search. They must remain mobile and given their knowledge of flash points in parts of the country, they have the capacity to put the criminals in our midst to flight.
Last month, I visited the southern part of Africa with journalist-colleagues from the United States, the Great Britain and Finland. We also had colleagues from South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia. Mozambique, Ghana, Tanzania and Namibia on the trip. We rode on a bus from Johannesburg to Botswana and then to Namibia. We went through the Kalahari desert. I saw policemen on the highway; they did not extort money from the driver, but were very friendly and polite.
The truth is that if we’re to go the Abubakar way, Nigeria is clearly an exception to the rule. Here, the police manpower has been massively depleted by the demands of the ever evil-inclined politicians and businessmen.
It is only in Nigeria that a local government counsellor would apply for and gets the services of police orderlies. It is only in Nigeria a politician would buy spaces in newspapers crying wolf over the withdrawal of his police orderly. At the end of the day, a policeman that was trained with the tax payers’ money finds it extremely uninteresting to handle the normal police duties after he has been exposed to the evil associated with some politicians and their cohorts in the business world.
Why should a policeman opt to be a brief case bearer for his politician boss rather than accept to serve in Borno, Yobe or Adamawa States. Why should a police man threaten civil unrest if posted to those areas, as if they are not part of Nigeria? Have heard the military officers bickering over postings to war zones? They crave for it and at the end of the day, they are decorated. Medals mean little or nothing to an average Nigerian policeman. I remember my days as a war reporter in Liberia and Sierra-Leone as the best moments of my career. I loved the camouflage given to us, the trenches dug for us for safety reasons and the highly mobile nature of our activities. Many times we landed on the Lungi International Airport, Monrovia at the wee-hours of the night without landing aids. It was fun being driven in APCs in market places and in other flash points.
So my solemn appeal to the IG Abubakar is for him to be courageous enough and mop up his personnel doing briefs with the politicians, except those that are constitutional permitted to have such services. Nigeria will not collapse if politicians and other dubious persons in our midst do not have the services of the police, but the country could bleed to death if our roads are not safe; if our homes are not safe and if our neighborhoods are not adequately policed.
I’ll prefer a situation where I could be extorted, experience some delays on the roads by reason of a police stop-and-check to not having them on the highway and possibly fall into the hands of kidnappers who will at the end of the day, want my account closed; God forbid!
The stop-and-check policy of the police should not be Brought back. This is because the average Nigerian sees himself as a VIP who can run foul of any law without being possibly caught or punished. He would like to drive his car without valid papers; he prefers jumping the gun where orderliness has been the norm. This is sad. So, Mr. IG firm up your acts and do the needful, not the needful that pertains to the politicians but that which ensures safety of life and property for the citizenry.
Police Tips against Kidnapping…
WHILE AT HOME:
• Know your surroundings well to detect strange faces.
• Install CCTV cameras at home or office to monitor movements of people around.
• Keep emergency numbers within reach at all times.
• Create speed dial numbers in your mobile phones in case you find yourself in difficult situations.
• Avoid giving out any personal information such as phone numbers and home addresses on social network, website or to unknown persons.
• Create a peep hole in your door where u can check-out visitors at your door before letting them in.
• Opt for clear glass windows to observe any person from a distance if you do not have a gate or fence, lock all doors at all time.
• Watch what and where you speak especially on the phone outside your house.
• Do not discuss financial matters within the hearing of domestic staff and neighbours.
• Inform only trusted neighbours of your movement out of town
• Do not keep huge sums of money at home.
• Always ask for identity of persons who pose as utility staff, security officer before you open your door.
• Ensure all doors are locked.
• Make good use of your side and inner mirrors.
• Ensure that a reasonable gap is giving to vehicle in your front.
• When you observe a vehicle following you behind persistently give away, but when danger is anticipated drive to a safe place like a populated area.
• While driving close to your house and you notice unfamiliar faces around your premises keep moving and drive to a safe place.
• Observe the movement of persons while driving in and out of your home.
• Enter vehicle only at recognised motor packs.
• Do not board a vehicle with only a few passengers inside, they may be kidnappers.
• Avoid night journey except when it becomes necessary.
• Avoid lonely routes.
Distress call numbers…
• Commissioner of Police 08028913040
• 2 i/c 08123827280
• DCP (Operation) 08166202333
• DC State CID 08036289547; 08081768791
• AC (Admin) 08081776923; 08034034345
• AC State CID 08035975219
• AC (Medical) 08035073372; 0803326646
• AC (Operation) 08081774232
• O/C Mopol 5 08033761677
• O/C Conflict Resolution 08037199694; 08127557770
• O/C Anti -kidnapping 08033332412
• O/C SIB 08058491658; 08036060867
• PPRO 08035870909
• 2 i/c PPRO 08023595111
• O/C (Thunderstorm) 07034140590; 08123829146
• O/C (Communication) 08027475830; 08053843157
• O/C SARS 08086653309; 08035482540
• O/C Anti Robbery 08035054365
• O/C Central JWC 08035704715
• O/C Anti-Bomb 08036326576; 08123673637
• O/C SARS (Auchi) 08037719403
• O/C X-Squad 08020800769; 08034238546
• O/C Highway Patrol 08024753134; 07030624565
• O/C Anti-Human Trafficking Unit 08083024641
Benin Area Command:
*DPO St. Saviour 08033172939
*DPO Abudu 08123825175; 08033332412
*DPO Ugbowo 08078072805; 08081777438
*DPO Ugbor 08053327494
*DPO Oba Mkt 08028715326
*DPO Iguobazuwa 08060889631
*DPO New Etete 08034053493
*DPO Ologbo 08064220769
*DPO Aideyan 08023038315; 08032459602
*DPO Okhoro 08035624223
*DPO Adesuwa 08023614339
*DPO Ugbekun 080034300923
*DPO Evbotubu 08060389004; 08123827890
*DPO Airport 08066932440; 08126288160
*DPO Esigie 08037084376
*DPO Ugo 08077921651
*DPO New Benin 0835936368
*DPO Ekiadolor 08037460360
*DPO Iguelaba 08075377080
*DPO Textile Mill 08124815987; 08057654370
*DPO Ogida 07033152382
*DPO Ikpoba-Hill 08081772047
*DPO Ehor 08062995212
*DPO Okhuaihe 08065377570
*DPO Egba 08035011357
*DPO Okada 08036617428; 08078008827
Auchi Area Command:
Area Command (Auchi) 08123385977
*DPO Sabongida-Ora 08037180188
*DPO Okpella 0806390908
*DPO Ibillo 07067469914
*DPO Auchi 08028979432/08036721261
*DPO Igarra 08038657711
*DPO Aganebode 08180503898
*DPO Fugar 07032432426
*DPO Afuze 08139169264
Irrua Area Command:
*Area Command Auchi – 08057817704
*DPO Irrua 07060859188
*DPO Ekpoma 08033980247
*DPO Igueben 08033559357
*DPO Uromi 08033588985
*DPO Ewohimi 08036666636
*DPO Ubiaja – 08033892664
Control Room Emergency Numbers
*08037646272; 0807777372; 08123827225; 08056776365; 08067551618; and 080339402