Insecurity: Enugu as an albatross?
…Agenda for New police boss
By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
THE invasion, on April 25, 2016, of the Nimbo community in Enugu State by suspected by Fulani herdsmen had sparked national and international outrage, even as the police leadership in the state was found glaringly wanting in averting and responding to the incident.
In fact, due to the high death toll, what happened in Nimbo was considered in many quarters as a massacre, a situation which raised serious security issues not just in the state but nationally.
Deceit from the top
Strangely, while both Nimbo and other communities in the state were burning, with more deaths being recorded, the then Commissioner of Police Nwodibo Ekechukwu was busy reporting to the police authorities thus: “The attack took place at the fringe of the town and my men engaged the attackers in a shoot-out and prevented them from coming to the centre of the town which was their target.”
Reactions from stakeholders
The state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who was piqued by the ugly development, noted that the attack on Nimbo may have happened due to inability of security agencies to successfully act on the counter-intelligence report about herdsmen gathering at neighbouring Odolu in Kogi State in preparation for attack. Igbo social cultural group, Ohaneze Ndigbo whilst expressing disappointment at the seeming security lapses which led to the terror attack and likelihood of another attack, asked the government to carry out thorough investigation to bring those responsible to justice and forestall further occurrences.
The situation could have become worse but for the swift reaction of the Police hierarchy in Abuja under the leadership of Solomon Arase which led to immediate removal of the complacent Commissioner of Police. Subsequently, other Commissioners of Police were posted to the state and their astuteness and doggedness contributed, in no small measure, in restoring the lost glory of the state, security wise. In fact, at a stage, the state resurrected its widely known pet name as the ‘Most Peaceful State’ in the federation.
Remarkably, the present Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, also played his part in achieving this feat while serving during the period. His tenure witnessed so many positive developments as the police was able to dislodge many criminals from their dens in the state. Also noteworthy is the fact that his men fought and succeeded in dismantling the notorious and dreaded ‘Malasian forest’ located in a thick forest at the outskirts of Nimbo area which was a thriving hideout for some of the most dangerous criminals in the state and beyond. Many other Commissioners of Police, including Mohamed Dan Mallam, who came after him followed his footsteps and did their best to curtail, not just kidnapping, but other criminal activities in the state.
Enter CP Balarabe
However, as soon as Suleiman Balarabe, a lawyer and Commission of Police, took over the mantle of leadership in the state, the table turned. Noticeably, CP Balarabe was posted to Enugu State after a chequered period in Kwara State as a Deputy Commissioner of Police. He had a brief stint as a Commissioner of Police at the Force Headquarters, Kam Salem House, Abuja before being posted to Enugu State. Unfortunately, as soon as he assumed duties, he re-structured the impenetrable security architecture and inexplicably dismantled all security networks in place before his assumption of duty – a network which ensured that Enugu maintained its enviable status as one of the peaceful states in the federation.
CP Baralabe who is billed to retire from the police force by December this year, reportedly ignored or sidelined all the positive efforts made by the Chief Security Officer of the state, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. Instead, he was said to have resorted to arbitrary posting and re- posting of officers and men of the force in his command without due diligence. Indeed, close observers allege that activities of the force thrived more on pecuniary benefits under his seven-month regime than ever witnessed in the state, especially, after the inglorious era of former CP Nwobibo.
Crime rate increases
CP Balarabe who kept on basking in the euphoria of being a lawyer laid much emphasis on private visits to men of means in the state than protecting the citizenry. Thus, crime rate soared to an all time high, pitifully reducing Enugu to one of the most volatile states in the federation.
Gov. Ugwuanyi takes up the gauntlet
Not comfortable with the yawning security chasm in the state, Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was forced to take the gauntlet as he turned himself into both the commissioner of police, head of Directorate of Security Services, DSS, and other security agencies in Enugu. But to the dismay of many concerned observers, CP Balarabe and all heads of security agencies in Enugu State stood helpless and unconcerned while the unarmed Governor took matters in his own hands by personally combing all the thick forests and other dark spots in the state in search of criminals. The CP and his men failed to raise a hand of assistance while the governor tried to tackle, headlong, the rising incidents of criminality in the state.
Combing forests, bushes
Unrestrained and desirous of protecting his subjects, Gov Ugwuanyi kept every other thing on hold and convened emergency security meetings, including consultations with traditional rulers, President- Generals of autonomous communities and other relevant groups and stakeholders. He reportedly embarked on personal visits to areas affected, including the victims, clearing of forests and bushes that served as criminal hide outs, re- organisation and equipping of neighbourhood watch groups. He also ordered the recruitment of 1,700 forest guards in line with the resolution of the South- East Governors Forum and also issued directives for local government chairmen to mount vigilante security checked points. While the governor was thus occupied with these security matters, CP Suleiman Balarabe unabashedly held sway at the command headquarters Enugu.
Exits CP Balarabe
The good news for the people of Enugu State is that the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, has hearkened to their wish by removing CP Baralaba as the state police boss. In his stead has been posted Ahmed Abdulraman who served as commissioner of police in Kaduna, Bayelsa and Ekiti states at different times. Indications from the state suggest that Enugu people are eagerly looking forward to an operationally versatile commissioner who will quickly restore their lost glory as the safest state in the country.
Agenda for New CP
But against the backdrop of their recent bitter experiences, they will want CP Abdulraman to set the ball rolling by dismantling all the dilapidated and obnoxious security architecture set up by out gone CP Balarabe. He is also expected to institute a high- powered security network that will elevate police duties in the state and drive criminals out without delay.
He should, as a matter of urgency, flag off a workable security network that will restore the confidence and hope of the people of the state and dispel the fears of killings, kidnapping and other crimes from their minds. They also want the new Commissioner of Police to liaise with Governor Ugwuanyi and embrace his laudable steps of fighting insecurity in the state and also pro-actively initiate many other measures that will ensure enduring peace.
Embracing community policing
By so doing, he should, wholeheartedly, uplift community policing which has its root in Enugu and blossomed under a purposeful public relations unit of the command but, regrettably,abandoned by out gone CP Balarabe. Police authorities in Abuja should also note that in posting commissioners to Enugu which serves as the headquarters of South Eastern states, care should be taken to consider tried and tested officers who will easily fit into the act of good policing rather than up starts who will set the clock back to zero. Lastly, both Gov Ugwuanyi and IGP Adam Mohammed deserve kudos for their deep concerns over securing Enugu state hoping, of course, that the new Commissioner of Police should fit in appropriately.