By Mohammed A. Adamu, Inspector General of Police
I am delighted to note that the strategies so far emplaced and the commitment demonstrated by officers across all ranks in the Nigeria Police within the past months have combined to aid in stabilizing the internal security profile of the country. In consequence, between January, 2019 to date, a total of four thousand, one hundred and eighty-seven (4,187) high profile suspects have been arrested nationwide. This includes one thousand, six-hundred and twenty-nine (1,629) armed robbery suspects; one thousand and fifty-three (1,053) suspected kidnappers; one thousand and twenty-three (1,023) cultists, and four hundred and eighty-two (482) murder suspects.
In addition, one thousand, one hundred and eighty-one (1,181) firearms of various descriptions and calibre including improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and rocket launchers were recovered in various police operations across the country within the same period. Three hundred and eighty-nine (389) stolen vehicles were also recovered from criminal elements, while five hundred and six (506) kidnapped victims have been safely rescued. It is pertinent to mention that of the rescued victims, three hundred (300) were secured in Zamfara State alone with two hundred and forty-nine (249) of this number rescued between 9th to 23rd July, 2019 from bandits and militias operating in the forests in and around Zamfara State.
The foregoing achievements are indicative of the fact that the trust gap between the Police and the citizens has been narrowed such that the communities are now demonstrating impressive commitment towards partnering with the Police in presenting a common front against criminal elements. It is also suggestive of the fact that the institutional capability of the Police to undertake specialised operations, take the anti-crime war to the camps and other safe havens of high-profile criminals, and respond to any scene of violent crime has also been significantly boosted. Above all, the achievements are indicative of the effectiveness of the Operation Puff Adder and other strategies emplaced by the Nigeria Police to address prevalent crimes in the country.
In order to sustain these gains, we have commenced the process of implementing the Community Policing concept which involves the engagement of citizens in identifying and prioritizing prevalent communal security threats as they affect their localities, and working together with the police towards developing and implementing solutions to the identified threats.
In giving effect to this, we are drawing on the Provisions of the Police Act in relation to the recruitment and utilisation of Special Constables who in this instance, will be engaged as Community Policing Officers (CPOs) under the coordination of the Nigeria Police towards evolving a community-focused policing architecture.
The breakdown of the Community Policing deployment plan covers the recruitment of a total of forty thousand (40,000) CPOs across the country in the interim. The CPOs will be recruited from within the communities where the prospective applicants reside and average of fifty (50) CPOs are to be engaged in each of the 774 Local Government Areas. In addition, one thousand (1,300) CPOs will be drawn from professional bodies like the academics, Road Transport Unions, Artisans, Traders Associations, Religious Bodies, Women Unions, and Youth Organisations among others in order to ensure diverse representation.
The CPOs shall be deployed to complement the Police in law enforcement functions within their localities by performing low-risk and non-sensitive duties. They will also act as liaisons between the Police and their communities. This policing architecture will free-up conventional police personnel that hitherto perform such functions and enhance our manpower profile in relation to deployment to frontline, operational duties. When fully implemented, the Community Policing Strategy will bridge the gap between the Police and the citizens in a manner that will enhance optimal, cost-effective, and sustainable law enforcement service delivery by the Police.
In evaluating our policing strategies, I am to note that there are still some security challenges which currently require our professional attention and which will constitute part of our discourse during this Conference. First, has to do with the recent violent campaigns of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria which are clearly designed to destablilise the country. The second, is the spate of kidnapping in the South West Geopolitical Zone of the country, while the third is the activities of bandits, particularly, in some states in the Northern part of the country.
The activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria led by Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky has over time evolved to constitute a grave threat to national security, law and order, socio-religious harmony, peace, good governance and the sovereign integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The members of the IMN have engaged in extreme radicalism, series of terror-related activities, violence and other unlawful activities which are inimical to the national security interest, good governance, and the corporate existence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Some of these nefarious activities include the following:
i. Pledging allegiance to foreign countries from where they are enjoying political, financial and training support with the aim of advancing their destabilizing intents within Nigeria.
ii. Unauthorized blocking of public highways, engagement in illegal road blocks, imposition of illegal curfews and checkpoints, raids on security assets, prevention of arrest of their members, invasion of court premises to abort legal proceedings involving IMN members, refusal to submit to ordinary security checks and attacks on security agents which led to the death of several Nigerians.
iii. Setting up of a para-military guard known as ‘HURRAS’ through which IMN has been terrorizing local residents. They have also instituted unregistered security outfits and performed paramilitary ceremonies, hoisting of flags, combat exercises, parades and inspection by the IMN leader reminiscent of a State authority;
iv. Provocative preaching and hate speeches aimed at inciting members against non-members while working towards its agenda of creating an Islamic State in Nigeria and challenging the legitimacy of the Federal Government in favour of Islamic government, non-recognition of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, non-recognition of State Authority, non-recognition of our democratic values and disrespect for our judicial processes.
v. The IMN has over the years manifested its penchant for launching attacks on Nigerians and the symbols of State authority. Since 2018 till date, the IMN has engaged in coordinated and organized violent protests within the Federal Capital Territory.
vi. Two weeks ago, the IMN extended its violent protest on 9th July 2019 to the National Assembly in the course of which they violently attacked and fatally injured security operatives in an attempt to overrun the National Assembly and threaten the nation’s democratic order. The protesters overwhelmed the first gate of the complex, inflicting damage on the security post, and marched on to the second one just before the main complex while the lawmakers were in session. The protesters also damaged a police vehicle and several other vehicles belonging to visitors, lawmakers and staff of the National Assembly who also sustained varying degrees of injuries.
vii. On 22nd July 2019, the IMN members again launched another vicious cycle of violent protest around the Federal secretariat during which they set a sub-station of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) containing a truck and ambulance on fire. A Deputy Commissioner of Police, Usman Umar, in charge of Operations at the FCT Police Command and Precious Owolabi, a National Youth Service Corp member in the FCT were killed and several others injured with many properties destroyed by them. The violent activities of IMN under the guise of clamouring for the release of their leader who is being detained on the order of a Court of competent jurisdiction in Kaduna State, has not only confirmed their disdain for due legal processes, but has heightened tension and insecurity in the country in a manner that confirms that their motivation is to destabilise the country;
It is obvious from the foregoing that the activities of IMN constitute glaring defiance and/or rebellion against the Nigerian State, calculated efforts to plunge the nation into an ethno-religious war, intimidation of citizens and security agents, disrespect for Nigerian laws and the authority of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Their activities also clearly and consistently negate Section 1(2)(A)&(B) of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013 and Section 2(1)(A)(B)(C) of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act of 2013 and hence, justify their proscription in overriding national security interest.
Although this meeting will review this and other general security situation and emplace appropriate action plans that are targeted at addressing these threats, let me affirm that in relation to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, in view of their increasing engagement of terror tactics and other violent and subversive activities which contravene the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013, as amended, and vide the judicial pronouncement of the Federal High Court, Abuja on 26th July, 2019, the Federal Government has classified them as a terrorist group and has accordingly, proscribed the El-Zakzaky-led Islamic Movement in Nigeria.
In consequence, henceforth, any person engaged or associating, in any manner that could advance the activities of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria, shall be treated as a terrorist, enemy of the State, and a subversive element and shall be brought to justice within the context of the Terrorism Act. The import of this is that all forms of procession or protest by IMN is now illegal and thus banned.
The Police and other security agencies are fully committed to giving full effect to this judicial pronouncement in the interest of our internal security and national cohesion. In this regard, I wish to solicit the support of members of the public, specifically, in the provision of information that will aid in the identification of the locations of the IMN members and their mentors as well as in working with us in apprehending and bringing them to justice. For purpose of clarification, Nigeria is a secular State with constitution provisions guaranteeing the freedom to practice our faiths. This, however, must be exercised in a manner that will not threaten our national security.
Hence, it is to be emphasised that while all adherents of the Shiite Sect in Nigeria remain free to continue to practice their faith and shall be guaranteed adequate security to so do as the Judicial Order does not stop them, the El-Zakzaky-led Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria which does not recognise nor accept the Constitution and Government of the Federation is the sole organisation that has been classified as a terrorist organisation and proscribed.
I want to commend all the strategic Commanders, and their Officers and men for their dedication to duty and the sacrifices they have to make in the line of duty. In this context, I wish to particularly recognize and condole the families of late DCP Usman A.K. Umar and Precious Owolabi, the National Youth Service Corp member that lost their lives during the recent violent campaign of members of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria in Abuja on 22nd July, 2019. I also commiserate with all other police personnel and citizens that were injured or had their valuable assets vandalised during the violence. I can assure that the perpetrators of these tragic and unguided acts shall in the fullness of time, be identified and brought to book. I have already directed the Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) to undertake a detailed investigation into the circumstances of the death of these great citizens and to identify the perpetrators with a view to prosecuting them.
The war against crime is as dynamic as the society. I, therefore, wish to charge you all as strategic police commanders to redouble your efforts in ensuring that the lives and property of the citizens of this great country are protected and safe at all times. This is our sacred, statutory responsibility and we must continually strive to adapt our strategies, provide the requisite leadership and make the utmost sacrifice to achieve it.
Finally, let me seize this opportunity to appreciate the citizens of this country and to reassure them that, with their cooperation, we shall continue to present a strong and impregnable front to defeat our common enemies which are the criminal elements that are bent on threatening our cherished values and livelihood.
▪ Being text of a speech by IGP Mohammed A. Adamy at Senior Police Officers Conference on July 30, 2019 in Abuja