Maverick politician and former governor of Oyo State, Alao Akala, told THISDAY that the police has the capacity to confront and defeat the insurgents currently holding sway in parts of the country. The former police boss accused the federal government of weakening the police while funding the army. Excerpts
The security situation in the country is becoming so alarming. As an ex-police officer, if you are still in service how would combat the crisis?
Security should not be left in the hands of the federal government alone. It is the responsibility of all. Insecurity is the problem of all of us. State government should be responsible for whatever is happening in their states. Nobody in Abuja would help govern Yobe, or Adamawa or Borno state; it is the duty of the governors.
But at the federal level, if I am allowed to be in charge, I will allow police action first. I will not deploy the army first; the army will be a backup for the police.
The police should face the insurgents first not the army. The army should come in at the request of the police. The police are more civil, and the people we are looking for are not army. They should allow the police to be in the fore front. They should equip police not army; this is not a normal war that the army can fight. Army don’t know those they are looking for, but the police are everywhere in the country. So, the police know how to give on the spot assessment if given the chance. Intelligent gathering is very important, and if police are well equipped, they would have been trained on how to combat these insurgents. During my time I had the opportunity of going to Jaji, I was trained alongside the army.
I was trained on how to face and combat this type of insurgence. They trained us every year. I don’t know whether they are still doing it or not. They trained us on how to deal with this particular situation we are in now – facing the insurgents. The type of war the Boko Haram is fighting is not a war the army can win. With due respects to the army, no matter how sophisticated the army are, it is not a war they can win. It is a war that everybody has to participate to win. What they should do is to make sure the police are well equipped to face the challenge. If you see when they started, they first of all scared away the police. They attacked police station all over the place just to scare them. And they allowed police to be scared by bringing in army. They would have fortified the police by giving them more money, equip them to enable them face these people. Because these are the people that are everywhere, we have police post in every locality, but soldiers are not everywhere; you have to move them from where they are. So, if you remember, at the commencement of the civil war, there was what they called ‘police action first’ but when they felt the police cannot combat the war, they brought in the army.
They will not go to where the soldiers are; the will go to where civilians are and the only people that can face them are the police. There is a department in the police called CIB, Civil Intelligent Bureau. The CIB will gather the intelligent report; the report gathered will not be sent to anywhere; it will be used immediately in that locality; action will be taken immediately. Where they consider as Boko Haram black spot, the police will send officers there to mingle with them, and the intelligent they gathered there will be used immediately by the operatives. So, my suggestion is that police should be brought in; army should be in the background. We have mobile policemen for this type of situation.
MOPOL are a sort of para-military and they are well armed and well trained to face this type of thing.
Have you ever advised the government on this?
No! no, because I have not had the opportunity of doing so. There was no effective way of communicating such to the government. You see, there is a standard way of carrying over the operation of the police to the army. I have not been seen where the police will say they are not able to combat a situation and then transfer it to the army. All the information are from the police and again the army are talking too much. I was involved in the war against Maitasene sect in 1980. We could not enter, we suffered a lot of causalities. Later, the military condoned the area and within some hours, they were able to subdue them because they knew who they were going to fight and we knew their location. These people are mobile. The Boko Haram people are mobile; you cannot say where their entry point is. If you say they are entering from the south, they will carry out another act in the East. The training of the army is different from that of the police; they are trained to fight and to kill, not to dialogue not to talk.
What sorts of advice will you give the IG?
Ii is not about the IG. It is to give the IG more money. If you give the police half of the money given to army, I assure you the police would do a very good job. Police will not tell you they are tired. Why we had to invite the military against Maitasini was because they were not using gun; they were using bow and arrow. You could be targeted anywhere.