21st July, 2010
Lagos radical lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana has stated that the leadership of the police has been aiding kidnapping and violent crimes in the country.
In a letter sent to the president of the country, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Falana said that the police authorities should not be allowed to blame the rank and file of the police â€œfor the current state of anarchy in the country.â€
The kidnap of four journalists and their driver in Abia State has, once again, exposed the high level of insecurity in the country. At a meeting held a few days ago by Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, the Inspector-General of Police, with selected traditional rulers of the South East zone, he accused unidentified police personnel of complicity in the rising wave of kidnapping in the region.
â€œIndeed, it is common knowledge that the leadership of the police has been aiding and abetting kidnapping and other violent crimes in several parts of the federation,â€ Said Falana who told the president that the recent kidnap ofÂ four journalists was a sign of insecurity in the nation.
To buttress his stand that the police leadership support crimes, Falana cited two cases. â€œIn July 2009, Alhaji Mohammed Hassan, a former Minister and a senior lawyer petitioned the Inspector General of Police over the brutal killing of 71 persons in Gombe State by an official killer squad known as â€˜Kalareâ€™.
â€œ In the investigation of the petition, the police confirmed the serious allegations. But instead of charging the suspects to court for the heinous crimes of kidnapping, abduction, rape, armed robbery, etc., the police authorities in Abuja in collaboration with the Gombe State Government arraigned the petitioner before a Gombe Magistrateâ€™s Court where he was charged with giving false information to the Inspector -General of Police. Although the frivolous charge has been quashed in favour of Alhaji Hassan, the â€˜Kalareâ€™ has continued to unleash terror on the innocent people of Gombe State.
â€œLast December, a traditional ruler and a college provost were kidnapped in Ekiti State. Both of them lost their lives in a ghastly motor accident at Lokoja, Kogi State while they were being taken to a hideout by their abductors. One Charles Patrick Ovie, the leader of the criminal gang and three other members were seriously injured in the accident. They were arrested and taken to Abuja by the police for interrogation.
â€œIn their copious confessional statements the suspects have admitted that they had killed not less than 50 people including 15 policemen and Mr. Kehinde Fasuba, an Accountant with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN); kidnapped the Secretary to the Kaduna State government and several other persons; snatched many cars and robbed banks from where they carted away millions of naira. Curiously, the Inspector General of Police hurriedly caused the suspects to be charged before a Magistrateâ€™s Court in Lokoja which lacks the jurisdictional competence to try them.â€
The Lagos lawyer further said that â€œthe aforementioned cases and many others have been compromised by the police authorities who have enriched themselves at the expense of law and order in the society. In the circumstances, the Federal Government should urgently identify, dismiss and punish the highly placed police officers who have conspired with kidnappers and other criminal gangs in unleashing terror on hapless Nigerians.â€
He called on the Federal Government to examine the socio-economic implications of crime prevention and control if itÂ is genuinely committed to the eradication of kidnapping, hostage taking, armed robbery, ritual murder, drug trafficking and other violent crimes.
â€œToday, Lagos State is witnessing a progressive decline in high level crimes because of the productive engagement of â€˜area boysâ€™ and other disenchanted youths. At the same time, the Lagos State police command which was neglected by the Federal Government under the Olusegun Obasanjo Administration has continued to receive sufficient support from the Lagos State Government, corporate bodies and individuals. Such support has no doubt enhanced the dedication of the police leadership and boosted the morale of the operatives of the anti-robbery squad in the State,â€ Falana added.
He tasked the president to encourage the National Assembly to enact a social security law that will address the frustration of the growing army of unemployed youths and the vulnerable segments of the society.
Meanwhile,Â the NigerianÂ Police through their spokesperson, Mr.Â Emmanuel Ojukwu, has lamented that theÂ police force lacks sophisticated equipment to track down suspected kidnappers.
He made the remark yesterday in a Radio Nigeria network programme, PoliceÂ Diary.
â€œInvestigating a case or arresting criminals is not by magic. These days the issue ofÂ kidnapping isÂ technology-based. They use phones. So we need to have a means of identifying where they are and getting them arrested.Â So weâ€™ve been calling for that. NigeriaÂ Police hasnâ€™t got that.Â And we have been asking for equipment to enable us operate.â€
Asked why these equipment are used in some cases, Mr. Ojukwu said: â€œIn some we have to hire this technology. We donâ€™t have it. There areÂ groups that have these technology. But we hired our own to enable us get this thing done. Some other groups also came to assist in this operation, and they were also using that technology.â€
When asked againÂ whether the tracking device is so difficult to acquire, given the fact that issue of kidnapping hasÂ been on for a very long time, Ojukwu betrayed the helplessness of the police force.
â€œYou see, it is not made in Nigeria. The police donâ€™t buy all the equipment they need. You know the level of technology we have in this country, the funding of the Police.â€
Mr. Ojukwu also denied knowledge of the complicity of the Nigerian Police in the kidnap saga, though he agreed that there are criminals inÂ the police.
â€œIÂ have not heard of any insinuation of police complicity in this particular incident we are talking about. There are criminal elements in the Nigeria Police force. That is withoutÂ doubt.Â People say in the Bible that out ofÂ every 12Â you have a Judas. We are 370,000 strong. There is no way you will not have somebody who is a bad element. We get them and we removed themÂ pronto! We donâ€™t waste time with bad elements in the Nigerian Police,â€ he said.
â€”Paul Dada & Nehru Odeh