Operation Code 09/09



I am now calling the nation’s attention to a menace that has further tarred the police image. The serial robbery attacks on Sunday 9 September in various parts of Lagos metropolis, almost at the same time which led to the loss of lives and several others injured have brought home the realisation of the horror and disasters when it strikes. Even with the presence of RRS everywhere, it has proved that in times of cleverly planned robbery operations they could be rendered useless in a matter of minutes.

The robbery is without parallel in the history of armed robbery operations, and very extra-ordinary from any point of view. Perhaps the question to ask is “Why?” There are two reasons for this. Firstly, some ventured only because they felt the pressure of daily circumstances was more than they could resist without resorting to violent crime. Secondly, others rebel against what the social order had patterned their lives with. To them violence becomes a climax.

This type of robbery operation, which is incomparable to any other that had happened in the past, requires great deliberation, and solid and intelligence judgement to determine the remote and what actually were the motives and the possible personalities that may be involved.

The manner of attack indicates  a cleverly contrived and intricate robbery puzzle, carried out with cunning and foresight by a clear- thinking brain. So, we expect government to think in a more civilised fashion regarding this incident and to take action that suggests that they are thinking and not playing with fire to complain of burnt fingers later.

With the recent attacks and threats of terrorism suspected everywhere and any time, the realisation that order and Chaos are correlative- to know one is to know the other- has come to unfold with stark reality. The question now is, not if it will happen but when it will happen.

Members of the public are beginning to lose interest in the police. Important as it is that law enforcement should be done, and still more so that protection of life and property should appear plainly to be done, the most important element of all is that a true picture of its working can be brought before the people’s eyes!

The crime combating strategy of the police lack depth and which cannot produce guaranteed results especially when faced with counter operation and should be dropped. And having determined the cause of their inability to stop the culprits, steps to resolve the blunder should be taken immediately. When corrections are undertaken to attend to a problem, it restores a sense of equilibrium and gets work back on track.

Are we confident that if a disaster were to strike this very minute, our Rapid Response Squad (RRS)  could respond quickly and smoothly to prevent it from further damage or human loss?  The Sunday 9 September incident has provided an answer that does not require probing questions.

Corruption which had progressively crept into the Nigeria police force has assumed an alarming dimension with officers and men indulging in all sorts of crime. Armed robbery syndicate of any significance has not been formed which could operate for a day without the knowledge of at least one police officer.

It is apparent that since Babatunde Raji Fashola’s administration came on board in Lagos state, his government has demonstrated in no small measure, genuine concern for providing the needed support for the police in Lagos State.  Various equipment and vehicles including helicopters that have been provided for the police by both the Lagos State government and other corporate bodies in the state for the purpose of enhancing police performance. But despite the stupendous investment in the police by the Lagos State government and corporate bodies, the police have not reciprocated the gesture by showing commitment to duty.

One thing is to spend but it is another thing for that spending to have real impact on the security situation in the state. The truth is this; the police do not have genuine concern for the ever increasing crime rate in the state, they are only interested in the financial benefit it would offer them.

The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the evidence of police action in dealing with it. Lagos State government should note one thing; police as it is presently constituted, are not interested in fighting crime especially armed robbery. Take it or leave it.

Police are only interested in patrolling and be harassing and arresting innocent citizens indiscriminately in order to extort money from them. They are only interested in dealing with debt collecting cases involving two business partners than to face their core function. Police are only interested in dealing with any reported cases be it civil or criminal or minor that they would benefit financially from.

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Since the police were barred from mounting road blocks, they have been involved in all sorts of illegal deals provided they would benefit financially from them. They use fronts to collect money from transporters everyday and per trip along our various highways and all these are the practices of all police stations in this state right now. Even the Area Commanders know about it because it is being done openly and brazenly.

What does one expect from this type of policemen who engage in all sorts of illegal money spinning businesses for several years to go and take a risk of confronting armed robbers.

An average policeman/woman smiles to the banks on daily basis through the proceeds from  impounding motorcycles. They are the ones who impound and they are the ones who sell the impounded motorcycles to another person. Go and check these facts at every police station especially at Ebute –Ero police station on the Lagos Island. The activities of this division of police have shown that the station is rotten to the core.

It has become an accepted practice in the police to fool the public and the governments by presenting a picture of hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. The idea of parading innocent people as robbery suspects with locally made guns should stop. The system of calling press conference to tell the country that they have arrested a group of terror gang terrorising certain places should stop. The method of arresting innocent persons and framing them up as armed robbers should attract severe sanctions on the part of any police formation that indulges in it. The systematic concealment of felony by extra-judicial killings of armed robbery suspects must stop. It is all nonsense. Constant abuse of holding charge simply because the suspects refused to ‘settle’ or offer bribe should stop. Stop taking a case to court unless you are sure you have concluded your investigations and have very huge chances of securing a conviction.

Holding charge means a process whereby police will take a suspect(s) to court requesting the magistrate to remand the suspect(s) indefinitely in prison custody without any formal charge. The result of holding charge is that the individual can be remanded in prison custody more or less indefinitely in a legal limbo based on little more than mere suspicion of criminal activity, without any evidence. It is an insidious but pervasive practice which shield police inefficiency and severely punishes the innocent person(s).

In fact, Lagos State Government should do something about this by establishing special prosecutorial unit under Ministry of Justice to deal with any police officer who arraigns people in court arbitrarily. It is getting too much, especially when they (police) have been barred from mounting road blocks, they have grown worse than before and their stock in trade now is to arrest and frame innocent people up just to get money from the people.

From the rank of AIG up, they are too comfortable to effect any meaningful measures towards the sanitisation of the police. They are only preparing for their retirement and grooming of their boys in the lower ranks and positioning them for lucrative posts. You can check it out.

The Nigeria police force is no doubt treated with resentment everywhere in the country including kids. They have lost their credibility. They have portrayed themselves in very bad light, leaving sour taste in the mouths of the citizens. And so their image sinks further into the mud with each passing day. This is a very sad thing to find in what we are pleased to think is a “civilised country”. There are so many ugly incidents that leave public perception of the police substantially dented or worse still damaged.

To reposition the Nigeria Police and uphold the rule of law in all its actions and decisions, the following must be done:

1. Establish a National Guard and withdraw all policemen from the various state houses and government offices, houses and National and State Assemblies and their present functions at those places be carried out by National guards or SSS.

Withdraw policemen from being posted as Orderlies or escorts to the President, Governors, State Commissioners, Ambassadors, Local Government Chairmen, Federal Ministers or Directors or diplomatic escorts and all elected political office holders or political appointees

Remove the administration of Mobile Police (MOPOL) from the control and the command of Inspector General Of Police. They should be a separate entity under the command of another person so appointed by the President. They should be named Anti-Riot and Terrorism Squad (ARATS)

Police should always direct their action strictly towards their core functions. Prevention and detection of crime should be their top priority. Any overzealous act and non-compliance with the established standard in carrying out enforcement activities should attract severe penalties on the part of any police officer that indulges in such act. Any officer(s) of questionable competence and doubtful integrity should be shown the way out.

 •Prince Akinsemoyin wrote in from Lagos. Mobile phone number: 08023163949

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