19th January, 2012
The next few hours will be crucial for Hafiz Ringim, the Inspector General of Police as they may determine whether he will bow out from the police with his head high or be given an early, shameful exit from the law enforcement agency.
The police boss who was due to officially retire next month was queried yesterday by the Federal Government over how Kabiru Sokoto, an alleged Boko Haram chieftain escaped from custody.
Police said the accused is the mastermind of the Christmas day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, a settlement which is about 50 kilometres from the Federal Capital Territory.
Over 40 people, mostly of worshippers who had just left the church after an early morning mass, died in the suicide bomb attack. Sokoto was arrested last Sunday alongside a serving military officer at Borno State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja.
He escaped same day when a police team led by Commissioner Zakari Biu took him to his house in Abaji for a search.
Police claimed that some youths had waylaid and attacked the Toyota Hilux van they used to take the accused for the search, thus facilitating his escape.
Zakari Biu, who led the 10-man police team for the search was placed on suspension on Tuesday by police authorities.
Caleb Olubolade, the minister of Police Affairs told journalists yesterday that Ringim himself is not totally blameless over the escape of Sokoto and thus has been issued a query which he must answer within 24 hours over the dramatic incident.
“He is the field officer; he has the responsibility to ensure all operations regarding arrest and all that are conducted in the usual manner,” Olubolade said on why Ringim is being queried.
“If he is found guilty of complicity, he himself will have to account for his mistakes,” Olubolade told journalists.
The minister added that he has directed Ringim to carry out full investigation on the arrest of the suspect and that at a higher level, there will be another investigation to ascertain what led to the suspect’s escape.
“I have also directed that the officers involved and the personnel involved should be detained immediately,” he added.
P.M.NEWS checks in Abuja this morning revealed that while the Police have been combing Abaji, the Abuja suburb where youths facilitated the escape of the suspect and have even extended their search of the accused to Kogi State, not much headway has been made in the re-arrest of the suspect.
It was however gathered that some suspects who police believe can provide information that will lead to the re-arrest of the suspect have been arrested.
It was gathered that failure to re-arrest the suspect may lead to early retirement of Ringim from the police.
When Olubolade was asked yesterday if the IGP can be sacked over the escape of the Boko Haram suspect, his answer was: “Yes, anybody, including myself.”
Already, there have been calls for the sack of the police chief by a cross-section of Nigerians who were shocked by the manner the suspect escaped.
Yesterday, Ayo Oritshejafor, the President of Christian Association of Nigeria called for immediate removal of Ringim from his post over the incident.
Nigerians will however wait to see whether President Goodluck Jonathan who has so far ignored such calls for the sack of the police chief over his serial failings will wield the big stick this time.