By Augustine Ehikioya
Ahead of the forthcoming 2023 general elections and other elections in the country, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, on Thursday met with Strategic Police Managers.
The meeting at the Force Headquarters, Abuja dwelt on ensuring security for the elections among other issues.
In his remarks at the briefing as obtained by Security Watch Africa (SWA), the Police Boss said that since January 2022 to date, the Nigeria Police have arrested a total of 328 Terrorists/Bandits; 325 Armed Robbery Suspects; 339 Kidnapping Offenders and 247 suspected cultists.
Those safely rescued within the period, he said, are 307 kidnapped victims, and items recovered included 510 firearms, 8,906 ammunition and calibre including rocket propelled grenades and other Improvised Explosive Devices.
He said “This meeting is being convened essentially for three main reasons. First is to further my leadership approach of periodically reviewing the internal security situation of the country and re-evaluate our strategies with a view to jointly evolving new approaches towards strengthening our internal security operations, particularly, in relation to the mitigation of prevalent crimes of banditry, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery and other highly organized and violent crimes that have overtime, been threatening our national peace and security order.
“Secondly, the meeting is aimed at interfacing with field commanders in evaluating the current political trends, assess possible threats, and commence the groundworks for the upcoming off-season gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun States as well as sharpen our strategies ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“Indeed, in furtherance to our preparation for the 2023 general elections, we are currently working on enhancing the capacity of officers of the Force in election security management. Consequently, I have approved the conduct of an Election Security Management Training for Police Officers ahead of the general elections.
“The training which will be delivered in partnership with a Training and Security Consultant with vast experience in election security management, will hold across the six (6) geopolitical zones of the country and will commence with the North-Central Zone on 4th August, 2022 here in Abuja.
“Subsequently, other geopolitical zones will host the training which is designed as a Train-the-Trainer programme. Your absolute cooperation is mandatory for the overall success of this initiative. Aside this, I also encourage you all to sustain your synergy with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and other sister security agencies in your respective States towards ensuring effective coordination and guarantee the success of the entire electoral process.”
“Permit me to at this juncture assure citizens of this country of the firm determination of the Force, as the lead agency in the election security process, that we shall emplace appropriate frameworks that will engender a fair, peaceful, secure, and credible electoral process in both the Ekiti and Osun States gubernatorial elections and during the upcoming 2023 general elections.”
According to him, the third objective of the meeting is to officially launch the Police Specialized Services Automation Project (POSSAP) as approved by the Federal Government.
He also maintained that the Nigeria Police Force has continued to sustain its anti-crime activities in the Police Reform Agenda.
He added “In furtherance to this, we have since the beginning of this year, been strengthening our logistics and operational capacity through the procurement and deployment of five hundred and thirty (530) purpose-built operational vehicles including armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and patrol vans.
“Two hundred and eighty-three (283) of these operational vehicles were procured within the Nigeria Police budgetary provisions by the Force leadership, while two hundred (200) were procured through the intervention of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund. Thirty-one (31) additional vehicles were acquired by the Ministry of Police Affairs for the Force, while sixteen (16) others were donated to the Force by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority for purpose of enhancing our operations along the Abuja-Kaduna highway.
“Aside these, we have also procured two thousand, five hundred (2,500) bullet-proof vests/armoured plates, and ninety-three thousand, five hundred and eighty-three (93,583) long and short range teargas for civil disorder management.”
All the assets, he said, have been distributed to Police Commands/Formations and also currently being deployed to strengthen on-going special Anti-Banditry and Violent Crimes Operations across the country.
On the security challenges along the Abuja-Kaduna highway, he re-assured Nigerians that the Nigeria Police is collaborating effectively with the Military, Department of State Services, the Ministry of Transport, and the Nigerian Railway Corporation towards “evolving a resilient security architecture that will address the current threats on a sustainable basis.”
He went on “In the interim, aside upscaling our patrol operations along the highway, we have deployed our air assets for aerial surveillance in support of the ground Police teams.
“In addition, we have re-invigorated the ‘Operation Safer Highway’ with the injection of more patrol vehicles and personnel across the country. We have similarly, strengthened ‘Operation Restore Peace’, the Special Anti-Secessionist Operation in the South East with the deployment of more special operational Units and assets of the Force.
“In order to enhance the attainment of our internal security mandate, I am also elated to confirm that we have secured the approval of the National Communications Commission (NCC) for the allocation of a National Police Short Code for free emergency calls and information sharing between the Police and citizens.”
The acquisition of the short Code ‘933’, he noted, is a landmark initiative by the Force leadership to bridge the age-long emergency communication gap between the Police and members of the public.
The code, he said, will soon be formally launched.
In line with the Police Modernization Vision, he said, that the Force has established an Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) Unit within the Department of Operations (Airwing Section) of the Force.
“To aid the take-off of the new Unit, we have procured five (5) Drones and Officers to man the Unit have also been exposed to specialized training in South Africa and certified as Drones Operations specialists.
“We are currently leveraging on the expertise of the NPF-UAV Unit to support special Police operations, particularly, for surveillance operations along the Abuja-Kaduna Highway and railway corridor. They were also optimally utilized in the recent Nigeria Police special anti-banditry operation in Sokoto with huge success.
To address the welfare concerns of the Force, he said that the Police Insurance Section is being re-positioned for better operational efficiency.
“In furtherance to this, I have approved the establishment and incorporation of the Nigeria Police Insurance Company (NPIC) to effectively manage the Police insurance policies, and maximise the welfare interests of Police personnel who are constantly being exposed to occupational hazards.
“Consequent upon these operational and administrative initiatives, I am glad to note that the Nigeria Police’s service delivery and operational efficiency have significantly improved.”
On the arrests and recoveries, he said “This is evidenced by the fact that between January 2022 to date the Nigeria Police have arrested a total of three hundred and twenty-eight (328) Terrorists/Bandits; three hundred and twenty-five (325) Armed Robbery Suspects; three hundred and thirty-nine (339) Kidnapping Offenders and two hundred and forty-seven (247) suspected cultists.
“Also, within this period, we have safely rescued three hundred and seven (307) kidnapped victims and recovered five hundred and ten (510) firearms of various descriptions, and eight thousand, nine hundred and six (8,906) ammunition of various descriptions and calibre including rocket propelled grenades and other Improvised Explosive Devices.”
All these, he said, would not have been possible without the loyalty, sacrifice, courage, and purposeful leadership of the strategic managers.
Encouraging them to sustain the positive trend, he said “This is because as the national political landscape becomes more active, there will be new threats to our internal security which will further challenge you as Strategic Police Commanders.
“I am confident that in addressing these anticipated threats, you shall continue to deploy your wealth of experience to aid the nation in deepening our democratic values.”