No fewer than 28 cops have been killed in three months, The Nation’s checks have revealed. They were either shot by gunmen, hacked to death or set ablaze by hoodlums who attacked police stations.
These are different from those lost to the ENDSARS violence. According to Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, six soldiers, 37 policemen and 57 civilians were murdered during the ENDSARS violence. The minister added that 269 private and public properties were razed.
The police said they would do everything legally permissible to curb the attacks on its men and facilities. Police spokesman Frank Mba, a Commissioner (CP), said this would include the use of force.
On February 23, AK47 and machetes carrying hoodlums numbering about 200 invaded Abayi Police Station at Osisioma, Aba in Abia State and killed two officers identified as Vincent Gonze and Sergeant Emmanuel Okoronkwo. The attackers also set part of the division ablaze with the help if petrol bombs and other explosives.
On February 24, four policemen manning a checkpoint at Nkpologwu community in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State were killed by gunmen, said to have arrived at the scene in two vehicles and carted away their rifles and burnt their patrol vehicle. That same day, a policeman was killed at Ekwulobia in Anambra State and another patrol vehicle razed.
The following day, gunmen suspected to be cultists killed four policemen in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
On February 1, gunmen killed a policeman at Atakumosa West, Osun State, while another cop was murdered the same day at Isiala Ngwa North in Abia State. There was also an attack on Obowo Police Division in Umulowe Autonomous Community, Imo State on February 5, leaving two policemen dead and three injured.
Four police officers were killed on January 15 after armed bandits numbering over 100 attacked their convoy along the Birnin Gwari-Funtua highway. The officers alongside 11 others were returning to their base in Kano from Niger State.
Three cops were murdered on January 8 when gunmen attacked a station in Ebonyi State and three others identified as Inspectors Simon Madaki, Mutari Lawal and Sergeant Adamu Ibraham killed on January 10 by armed men in Ughelli, Delta State.
Two policemen were murdered by suspected Boko Haram Terrorists during an ambush at Magumeri, Borno State on January 31.
On November 20, angry youths stormed a police station in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State and killed a cop on duty.
An Assistant Superintendent (ASP) and a Corporal were killed on January 23 after gunmen invaded a police station in Aba, Abia State.
Mba said: “Actions are being taken. The position of the IG was clearly stated in my press release following the unprovoked attack on Abayi Police Station in Aba on February 23 where the state command successfully neutralised four attackers, arrested eight and recovered arms, ammunition from the hoodlums.
“The IG has warned that dire consequences await any person or group of persons who, under whatever guise, engages in an unwarranted attack on any public property and directs all command CPs to employ all legally permissible measures to protect police facilities, personnel as well as all Nigerians.
“He has also directed that a comprehensive investigation be conducted into all cases of murder of police personnel across the country. Our policemen already know that the number one rule in protecting lives and properties is that they must protect themselves. They have to stay alive to be able to protect others.
“We are also appealing to Nigerians to know that police property are theirs. Policemen and woman are their brothers and sisters. We are working towards more public engagements and enlightenment through the community policing framework.
“We need our people to take ownership by so doing, whenever they hear or see any criminal plotting to commit a crime, they will share the information and such crimes will be prevented,” he said.
On the strategies to forestall the killing of policemen and invasion of police stations, the Police Public Relations (PPRO), SP Geoffrey Ogbonna, said the police would not disclose their strategies to the public.
Commissioner of Police Sikiru Kayode Akande said the attack was the first recorded in the state after the ENDSAR incident in October last year. He assured that the police would use modern technologies to enhance policing in the state.
“The target of the people is to dampen our spirit. But we are resolute and we are going to strike back at them. It is often said, he who laughs last laughs best. Let Cross River People wait for that last laugh. It will make us happier,” he said.
The police have arrested five suspects and recovered some of the weapons taken away by the hoodlums.
Imo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Cyprian Akaolisa said the killings were carried out by the members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), using its Eastern Security Network (ESN).
“The attacks on police stations and killing of policemen during EndSARS were carried out by IPOB and not protesting youths for the sole purpose of hijacking and stealing weapons. They are now using those arms to destroy Orlu.
“They killed 12 policemen from that #Endsars period, a prominent Orlu son, Ignatius Obiezu and a promising young man, Emmanuel Okeke (Soludo) collected their Hilux vehicles,” Akaolisa said.
The police would not talk about strategies to combat arsons in their facilities.
Delta Police Commissioner Ari Mohammed Ali blamed the killings on cultists and the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Any police officer under whose jurisdiction violent crimes are perpetrated, he said, will be removed from office.
He said the Nigeria Navy was to cordon off the River Niger end to prevent fleeing IPOB members, stressing IPOB elements have infiltrated from neighbouring States using River Niger.
Plateau State Commissioner of Police Edward Egbuka said the command was on red alert over the spate of attacks on police stations as well as the killing of policemen in some parts of the country.
Egbuka, in a telephone chat with The Nation, said: “My men are on top of any situation basically through our constant patrol mechanism across the state to forestall any eventualities.”
“Another measure adopted by the police in Plateau is the stop and search method in flashpoints and across the state.
“As you know our basic constraint is the limited resources in terms of manpower and other logistics.
“When I was transferred to Plateau, my mission was to make sure that none of my officers and men of the command was molested as well as civilians because my mission is to protect my men and the citizens,” Egbuka said.
The Katsina State Police Command yesterday outlined some of the measures to ensure the safety of police officers and police stations to include: synergy with sister security agencies, constant dialogue and interactions with local communities, traditional rulers, repentant bandits, Myyetti Allah groups, clerics and so on.
The Command’s Public Relations Officer, Superintendent Gambo Isah, commended the leadership style of CP Sanusi Buba Sanusi.
In Imo, the fencing of police stations is a major strategy against arsonists. Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nigeria n Police Headquarters, Zone 9, Umuahia, comprising Abia, Imo and Ebonyi State, Janet Egwuchukwu, said the police authorities decided to fence all police stations in the country at the outbreak of Boko Haram insurgency.
However, it was discovered that most of the police stations attacked by hoodlums were found not to be fenced.
The Rivers State Police Command said it has put in place measures to ensure the security of its men and facilities.
PPRO Nnamdi Omoni, in a telephone interview, yesterday said: “We are not folding our hands so the new CP has put things in place to ensure that police officers are protected.
“Recently, our men have been undergoing SWAP training where they are being drilled on how to combat aggression.
“This is all I can say now, as we all know security strategies are not discussed in the public place, but be rest assured that Rivers state police command is working on that.”
Kaduna State Police Command Commissioner Umar Muri said his men had been trained to protect all police assets and formations.
The Police Commissioner, who spoke to The Nation through the Command’s Spokesman, ASP Mohammed Jalige said, said: “We have as well beefed up security in the various police formations and other public facilities. We have alerted our men at divisional level to always be at alert so that they can repel whatever comes their way.”