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POLICE/NSCDC FRACAS

Peace and security, though difficult to achieve, are indispensable. And the survival of any society lies greatly in the level of understanding and cooperation among security agencies who are pillars in this direction. But the strife between the police and the NSCDC is threatening the country’s internal security, hence the need for urgent action, CHARITY PAUL

The recent show of shame displayed by heavily armed men of the Squadron-18 Mobile Police, Owerri , where they invaded the Imo State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, manhandled the commandant and dragged him out in his boxers, killing three persons and leaving several others badly injured has again, raised concerns as to the appalling state of the country’s internal security, The latest drama is a continuation of a series of attacks on men and officers of the NSCDC by personnel of the Nigerian Police, video and photo evidence have shown.

It is a fact that security  is critical to stability and development of any nation. However, in Nigeria, inter-agency conflict and its implications on national security have continued to be a reoccurring decimal among security agencies.

From all indications, the well appreciated and admired intra-agency disciple and inter-agency esprit de corps appear to be on the decline, a development,  which does not bode well for the country.

This is because a country already ravaged by insecurity and an overwhelmed security architecture, should not for any reason be battling with security  agencies that have chosen to be a house divided against itself.

it is very disturbing that comrades in the security circle who ought to be peas in a pod begin to engage in wrangles even to the height of exchanging friendly fire.

This too , at a time the nation’s  security is faced with challenges that have pervaded it’s length and breadth in the forms of ravaging herdsmen militias, kidnapping, cattle rustling, violent protests and the never-ending Boko Haram terrorism, IPOB, and banditry which till this moment the security agencies are yet to discover the unguents.

Anyway, one would say that this unhealthy drama is no longer a strange occurrence as we have seen and heard times innumerable of monstrous strife within the security circle, especially the Police , bringing to mind the saying that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”

Nigerians woke up to the sad news that mobile policemen on Monday, April 25, stormed the NSCDC state headquarters, held its personnel hostage, manhandled the commandant, beat up other officers, wreaked havoc and killed the driver of the commandant, forcing residents of the area to scamper for their safety.

Trouble was said to have started after a heated argument had ensued between the driver of the NSCDC boss and a police officer on mufti who blocked the exit way of the commandant’s entourage, while he was returning from Abacheke, the oil bunkering site where scores were burnt to death in Egbema.

Not unexpectedly, the police and the NSCDC have related different accounts of the incident. But according to one account, when asked by the commandant’s security escorts to move aside, the police officer who was not on uniform vehemently refused without even disclosing his identity. He was, however, ignored on the commandant’s directive.

“However, on reaching the Corps office, while the commandant made to enter the command, the man blocked the NSCDC boss, brought out a pistol and announced that he was a police officer.

On sighting that, he was immediately rounded up and arrested by NSCDC officers who also seized the pistol to avert danger.”

Another account has it that “After he was released, he returned with heavily armed enraged MOPOL men who went into beating, shooting and attacking both officers and their facilities at the premises.”

LEADERSHIP Weekend writes that this  is not the first time something like this has happened and unless concrete steps are taken a repeat is inevitable.

Further findings by LEADERSHIP Weekend revealed that  in April 2013, two Civil Defenders were allegedly killed by some policemen over an operational disagreement in Ikorodu on the outskirts of Lagos.

Five other NSCDC officials were said to have sustained various degrees of gunshot wounds during the unfortunate encounter.

The NSCDC officials were said to have successfully arrested some pipeline vandals with their exhibit. They were taking the suspects to their office, when one of the suspects made a call. Shortly after, the NSCDC officials encountered the policemen who opened fire on them.  The vandals who had earlier been apprehended were then allegedly released by the police.

The Ikorodu incident between the police and the NSCDC was hardly an exception. In fact, clashes between security agencies have become endless.

At an Emir’s palace in Gombe , there was once  a similar case of a shootout between soldiers and policemen which also led to fatalities. The truth remains that such clashes involving the army/navy, police/FRSC, VIO/police, air force /police, etc, are entirely uncalled for and condemnable.

Again, on October 20, 2013, an officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) who was travelling from Abuja with a Volkswagen Golf Car was yet again beaten in public by police officers at Ado Junction, along Akure/Owo Expressway in Ondo State, disrupting free flow of traffic gor several hours.

Reports had it then that after beating the lone civil defence officer, identified as Seun, the police officers  handcuffed and took him to Ijapo Police station.

Also in March 2014,  Adeduyite Blesssing of the NSCDC and Afolabi Dorcas of Nigerian Correctional Services, NCoS, were reportedly  beaten to a pulp by police officers in Kubwa, Abuja.

The civil defence said the officers attracted the irk of the  policemen in mufti who accused them of driving recklessly after they asked them to identify themselves.

Still in 2014,  while conducting anti-vandalism inspection in the Ikorodu area of Lagos, with a team of officials from the army, the EFCC,  ICPC, and the office of  the AGF, a former CG of the Corps, Dr. Ade Abolurin was accosted by a team of gun-wielding police officers, believed to have been invited by some of the suspected vandals.

A police inspector then threatened to open fire on his team for daring to conduct checks at the site, the corps said.

However, despite photo evidence corroborating the claims by the civil defence, the then spokesperson of the  Lagos State command of the Police, Lelme Kolle, denied that the inspector threatened to shoot Dr. Abolurin.

In April 2016, Police officers again allegedly shot dead two  civil defence officers at New Airport Road in Calabar South, in Cross River State

The ugly incident LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered happened after an argument ensued between  some armed policemen who mounted a road block close to the NSCDC State headquarters and some NSCDC officers who were returning to their station from patrol.

Again, in march  2019, another civil Defender, Ogar Jumbo, was allegedly killed by unidentified police officers in Nyanya , Abuja.

The incident occurred near a military check point close to a branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) before the popular  Nyanya market.

The deceased was said to be conveying his two children to school in company of his wife when the policeman ordered him to stop.

Ogar was said to have made a U-turn at a wrong location to enable him get to the school on time before the police officers, who were on duty in the area, stopped him for failing to comply with traffic rules.

Dressed in his uniform, Ogar was said to have pleaded with the policemen to understand that he was rushing to drop his children in school.

His pleas fell on deaf ears, as one of the police officers reportedly  jumped on the bonnet of the vehicle, while the other one descended on him with a baton.

John Ochai, a witness, said Ogar was allegedly beaten to the extent his wife had to intervene, while the children pleaded with the policemen to stop beating their father.

The truth is that our security agencies need to avoid causing unnecessary commotion through needless disagreements which often  leads to avoidable death, injuries and destruction at all times.

All these storylines suggest that we are really in a big mess in this country. It is quite evident that there is deep-seated animosity between our various security agencies.  This animosity has impacted negatively on inter-agency cooperation and the overall security of the nation. Taking these stories on their face value, one cannot but be amused and even amazed by the spirited defence put up by the Police.

This worrying situation has prompted various security analysts to harp on the need for cooperation among the security agencies, as a way of devising a concerted template to fight crime and criminality in the country. But rather than cooperating, what you find playing out everywhere is attempt to outdo or undo one another by the plethora of security agencies in the country.

If it is not the army versus the police, it could be the navy or air force slugging it out with the police.

Today, we are confronted with the bloody encounter between the NSCDC officials and the Police. This the more reason why this latest strige between the NSCDC and the Police must be thoroughly investigated by an independent, impartial body. Certainly, not by any department of the Police as they are party to the crisis.

This way, the truth behind the fracas will be unearthed after which steps can then be taken to forestall a recurrence of such a national embarrassment.

A Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Movement Against Corruption (MAC) said , “It is time  for the National Assembly and the Presidency and other concerned agencies to the country from the incessant upheavals among our security agencies and agents. And urgently too!

The movent in a statement issued by its convener, Pius Ga’ar said , “The last thing we need as a nation now is a fissure within our security apparatus; our security agencies more than ever before need to be more united and collaborative to commandeer the perpetrators of these malignant acts. This is because a house divided against itself cannot stand.

The sacrifice of these heroes killed by this act of stupidity  should not be in vain. Whosoever is found culpable in the course of the investigations should be brought to book.

A security expert, Dr. Ifesinachi Nwode said, “While we are not unaware that  we have an unmatched legerdemain for sanctimony, we are aware  that words and actions always take parallel directions and very few actions back a deluge of words, we hope as patriotic Nigerians that this lastest attack on the Corps will birth and foster cohesion amongst all our security forces.

“We want to state categorically that from the manner previous clashes between policemen and civil defence officers were handled by police authorities, we as CSO’s do not however,  believe the erring police officers would ever be brought to book.”

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