This Day (Lagos)

29 January 2013

Nigeria: Police - We Can't Question U.S., UK, Others On Travel Alerts

The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has said it will not question the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany over their recent travel warnings issued to their citizens not to visit some cities designated as unsafe in the country because of a possible reprisal action from Mali.

The clarification came against the background of last week's fresh warnings issued by the embassies of the US, UK, Germany and Canada to their citizens not to travel to Nigeria.

The warnings, THISDAY learnt, was predicated on the recent deployment of troops to Mali by Nigeria, adding that certain parts of Nigeria are vulnerable to attacks by the terrorist groups operating from Northern Mali.

Making the disclosure in an exclusive interview with THISDAY at the weekend in Abuja, the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, said issuing security tips, alert or warnings by foreign embassies to their citizens either within or outside the country was a right of every sovereign country under customary international law, adding that such discretion cannot be questioned.

He said: "It is the inviolable right of every sovereign state to issue security tips, advisory notes and all forms of warnings to its citizens both within and outside their shores. Now because it is a right every sovereign state can exercise, we cannot question their discretion, timing and how they exercise these rights."

Continuing, he added: "Nigeria can wake up today and say we want to issue advisory notes or warnings in the US and tell them they should not enroll their children in elementary schools anymore because there are gun trotting people who walk into elementary schools to kill children. We can as well issue such advisory notes. The US will not begrudge us and in this case we will not be begrudge them because it is our job."

Mba stated that the NPF is focused on its constitutional and statutory responsibilities of safe - guarding the lives and property of Nigerians and foreigners.

On the preparedness of the police to track crimes using information technology deployment, the PRO said: "The only thing that I'm going to tell you is that the NPF takes very seriously issues that border on ICT."

Mba stressed that modern day policing is technology-driven, adding: "Modern policing is all about software and hardware and you can barely police a nation that is as complex and complicated as Nigeria if you don't have those equipment and if you don't have the skills of handling those equipment."

"It is because of the level of importance attached to ICT that the NPF decided to establish a school dedicated to the training its personnel on IT related knowledge specifically and it is called Police School for Information Technology (PSIT) in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

"It has been doing wonderfully well in this regard," he said.

However, Mba added: "But of course, we have our challenges because they are capital intensive, particularly at the beginning and then our success will not just be dependent on our passion, determination alone, it will also depend on well-funded Force as a whole and the department as a whole.

"But suffice here to say that when you are deploying technology you don't have to come out to say how efficient it is because you know people can break into your system as there are people that are just lurking around to hack into your system and lurking around to know how effective your deployment is so that they can know what your deployment is to short-circuit it to beat your strategy."

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