12 November 2011

Nigeria: Boko Haram - Troops Patrol Jos As Fear Grips Police, Residents

Fear has gripped all the 985 Assistant Superintendents of Police, ASPs now on promotion course at the Police Staff College, PSC, Jos, Plateau State, following security reports of possible attack on them by members of the fundamentalist Boko Haram.

No fewer that three patrol teams made up of members of the Police Mobile Force, MOPOL, were deployed around the college Thursday night as reports said that some of their Muslim colleagues were alerted during their evening prayers in the mosque over the possible attack.

Security sources told Saturday Vanguard that activities were paralyzed in the college when a text message was read to the course participants alerting them about the possible Boko Haram attack at a time when most of their Muslim colleagues had tactfully disappeared from their hostels after taking few of their important belongings with them.

A police official message number CE.6421/"E"DEPT/ABJ/Vol.T/49 of August 22, 2011, designed an eight- weeks course for the ASPs from September 26, 2011 to November 18, 2011, but the course was suddenly extended to nine weeks, without explanations.

The course tagged "ASP-DSP promotion 2/2011," has in majority, southerners who underwent an 18 months course between January 2003 and April 2004 and have remained ASPs for eight years until now. A similar course ran early this year lasted for only six weeks because of the special security situation in the state.

Following the security alert, majority of the officers who are southerners reportedly smelt a rat, thinking that some fifth columnists must have been working to use Boko Haram to reduce their chances in the Police Force.

Although, the area was generally quiet Thursday night, some of the course participants were alleged to have slept in the bush to avoid being bombed.

The sorces said, "Fear has paralysed activities at PSC, Jabags and left.

"It is their thinking that the extension of a six weeks course to nine weeks given the security situation in Jos was not unconnected with the Boko Haram attack to reduce the chances of southerners in the force."

Relatedly, a course participant, ASP Adewale Lukman from the Ekiti State Police Command was said to have slumped and died while entering the hall for his mid-course examinations due to what his colleagues described as harsh and unhygienic conditions in the institution.

Sources said that his fellow trainees raised over N300,000 to hire ambulance and a bus that took home, the remains of their fallen colleague to Ekiti amid lamentations that Lukman could have survived if the PSC had good medical facilities.

At the time of filing this report, the school which is the highest police training institution in the country has not had electricity supply for over a week even as the final examination is few weeks away.

According to reliable police sources, the course participants depend on well water, just as most halls are un-inhabitable with burst waste pipes and suck-away pits.

"Officers jump over faeces in and out of their hostels. A room meant for one officer now contains four officers each and are devoid of fresh air, due to the stinking smell of faeces from the burst pipes.

"The Commandant of the College, Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Chris Ola Ola, is in sympathy with the course participants but can do little or nothing to ameliorate their sufferings or humiliations in the name of course," the sources further added.

However, the Special Task Force, STF, in charge of security in the state has dispelled rumours of possible attack by Boko Haram in Jos as the spokesman, Captain Charles Ekeocha said in a statement that there was no cause for alarm.

Ekeocha said: "The attention of the Special Task Force (Operation Safe Haven) has been drawn to the rumour going around town of an impending outbreak of violence in Jos metropolis yesterday. The STF wants to use this medium to re-assure the people of the state that the security of lives and property is in no way threatened and that people should go about their normal activities without fear of molestation as the Special Task Force with other security agencies in the state are well on top of the situation in the state"

It was said that the rumour of attack became rife on Thursday following a demonstration by some youngsters who marched through some major streets brandishing dangerous weapons, fueling speculations that it was a prelude to an attack by members of the Boko Haram sect on the state capital.

Intensified patrol of major streets and entry points to the state was observed from Thursday night to Friday morning in an apparent move to nip any planned attack in the bud.

Some residents also took preventive measures by not allowing their children to go to school yesterday, while some businesses did not open until later in the day.

It was speculated that those behind the planned attack wanted it to coincide with the return of Governor Jonah Jang who had been abroad on vacation for about four weeks even as it was further alleged that the unruly behavior of the youngsters aged between 10 and 15 years was a provocative act designed to cause violence.

STF warned trouble makers that the full weight of the law would be brought upon them as they would not be allowed to truncate the peace process in the state.

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