Nigeria: Rising Attacks On Police May Lead to Full-Scale Insurgency in South East

Traffic and the Nigerian police (file photo).
20 April 2021

Security experts in the country have warned that the spate of attacks in the South East geopolitical zone of the country could be dangerous signal that insurgency is brewing in the region.

They noted that actionable leadership is required to refocus the country, even as they suggested that the government should either equip the security agencies to deal with the situation head on or dialogue with the perpetrators.

Of late, there had been series of attacks on police officers and police facilities in the South East and South South regions.

The gory attacks on police stations and other government institutions in the zones, the experts pointed out, are launched to strike fear and make people lose confidence in government.

Commenting on the security situation, former director of the Department of State Security (DSS), Mike Ejiofor, expressed worry that more attacks are imminent as the situation seems far from abating.

Ejiofor, a lawyer who served as director of DSS in several states in the South South, South West and North West regions said, "This is an attribute of insurgency where they begin to attack government institutions. The aim is to weaken the military and make people afraid and lose confidence in government. That is exactly what they are doing. Although they have been denying but I believe the security agencies will handle the situation.

"What government can do now is to equip the military or the police to face the situation or you engage the perpetrators in dialogue. They can also call the Igbo leaders to dialogue and let's see how we can bring this situation to an end. At the rate at which it is going it is not abating and we are expecting more attacks."

Ejiofor however expressed hope that even though no arrest had been made so far, the culprits would be captured with time which will further serve as lead to know the motive behind the attacks.

On where the criminals are getting their weapons from, he said, "It is just like asking where the arms used by Boko Haram insurgents are coming. Some of them are stolen from military and police armory. Some of them are purchased; you know there is a lot of arms proliferation.

"There are also some licensed armed dealers. Some of them are purchased illegally too. Some are seizures from military and police formations and some from the Niger Delta area".

For his part, former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Air Marshal Allamin Musa Daggash (rtd) blamed government's inaction for the attacks, which he said has led to the deteriorating security situation over time.

Noting that actionable leadership is needed to refocus the country, he said, "The whole story boils down to bad attitude of government. It is a totality of poverty. When you have a society that is so much enmeshed in poverty you must expect all sorts of upheaval, and the East cannot be any different. These are people who apart from the Biafra experience have not seen much disturbance except clashes between one clan and the other.

"Suddenly, it got to this level because now they have so many young people in the society with no job, no trade. No body looks after them; nobody cares for them. It is similar to the #EndSARS problem. We have abandoned the young people in all aspect. Then the so called politicians will try to take advantage of their project and promote it to something else".

Daggash regretted that money meant for social projects are given to politicians instead in the name of constituency project, which ends in their private pockets.

Suggesting the way forward, the former minister said, "We need a mad man to be head of state with a lot of mad men as his ministers and others, then maybe we can start tackling the problems of this country; otherwise you can't see any solution. It is worsening by the day.

"Nobody has ever been brought to book. If you have leadership, it has to be an action leadership. When people do things wrong, you capture them and punish them. Let the public know that you punished them for the crimes being committed in the country. How many have they prosecuted and come out plainly to tell the public we have jailed this person for this or that?"

Another security expert, William Abolurin, while acknowledging that the spate of insecurity in the zone has instilled fear in the minds of the residents expressed worry that the motive behind the attacks is yet to be known.

He said, "I am one of those who believe that this chain of attacks is part of the several ploys to unleash mayhem on the zone after demobilising the security architecture but others simply don't have a clue.

"It is quite disturbing that as a result of the attacks, police checkpoints, which used to be rampant on the roads, have disappeared. The operatives appear to have been called back to man their stations. Hardly can policemen be found in their uniforms on the streets except those on special assignments or accompanying a high-profile person".

Speaking on the development, another security expert, Efefiom Akpan Usenobong, said the deteriorating security situation in the South East calls for serious concern.

He said, "The issue of security of the zone has been on the front burner since the conclusion of the 2019 general election but it is just sad that the leadership of the zone has played politics with it.

"For instance, we were here when we started hearing about killings and kidnappings here and there. We felt that the various governments in the zone were serious about tackling the issue. Unfortunately, after several meetings and promises, nothing came out of it till now.

"They should burry their faces in shame because all these mess started before their very eyes. Their people were being killed and they did nothing. Today, it has graduated from killing ordinary persons to attacking police stations and checkpoints and snatching of guns from officers. The truth is that as a country, we should be worried. This is because by the time the entire guns in the South East are snatched I do not know what will become of the people and, by extension, those of us in the South South. It is an unfortunate situation."

Alleging that both the local and federal government did nothing about reports of the invasion of the zone by persons whose motives were questionable during the COVID-19 lockdown, he said any security breach the zone is witnessing should be linked to those who were brought in by the cover of the night in various trucks.

A public and private security analyst and trainer, Major Banjo Daniel (rtd), said the attacks on security formations in the South East are due to frustration.

He said, "The propaganda these people are selling about Mr President is just too much. It is because Nigerians have refused to buy into it that is why they are attacking security formations.

"As far as I'm concerned we don't have a police system. We should gradually disband this police system and establish a completely new one. The current police allow criminals pass with weapons once they can part with a paltry sum.

"It is not just starting today; this thing has been with us and it has become part of our culture already. Everybody now believes that criminal activity is the way forward for anyone to live well or become wealthy in this country."

Noting that the herders/farmers crisis is just a cover to shield the real criminals, he said, "The true perpetrators of crime are using Herdsmen crisis to cover their nefarious activities not to allow Nigerians to suspect them.

"The #EndSARS has been overlooked because children of rich men were involved. The destruction they caused in Lagos, if calculated, is more than what is happening in the North East altogether."

He berated the governor of Lagos State for describing the protest as peaceful.

"Most of the sponsors who Nigerians believe are making their money through music business are into criminal activities such as kidnapping, drug trafficking and the rest," he added.

2 Police Officers Killed In Anambra, Station Set Ablaze In Umuahia

Meanwhile, as the attacks on the police continue, two police officers were killed in the early hours of yesterday in Anambra State in a deadly attack by gunmen on a police facility in the state.

The officers killed have been identified as Ishaku Aura, an inspector, and Uzoma Uwaebuka, a police constable.

The Nigeria Police Force zone 13, Ukpo, Dunukofia local government area of the state was set ablaze.

Some vehicles parked at the station's premises were razed during the attack at the Zone 13 police headquarters at Ukpo, near Awka.

A video footage of the parts of the police zonal command being gutted by fire which said said to have been recorded by a police officer showed the firefighting vehicle of Anambra state fire service in the premises, a vehicle already burnt and the administrative building on fire.

The mobile phone of the zonal Public Relations Officer, Mrs Nkiru Nwode, a Deputy Inspector of Police (DSP), was consistently busy when our correspondent put calls through to her phone to get her reaction.

It was, however, gathered that the identity of the hoodlums responsible for the attack on the police zonal command are yet to be known as at the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, the headquarters of Uzuakoli division of the Nigeria Police Force was partially razed by unknown gunmen after several gunshots were heard around the station, about 12 kilometers from Umuahia, the Abia State capital

This is coming weeks after a similar incident occurred at the World Bank Housing Estate in Osisioma local government area when a police station was razed and property worth millions of naira destroyed.

Along the same Umuahia-Uzuakoli-Ohafia-Arochukwu route two weeks ago, an attack on a police patrol team before Abiriba junction in Ohafia local government area left three officers dead and their van set on fire.

A source in the community in Bende local government area told LEADERSHIP in confidence that the shots lasted from 2am till around 4am in the early hours of Monday.

The source who said there is no report of casualty either on the side of the attackers or the police said, "We saw tongues of fire and smoke billowing from the station."

Ohaneze Alleges Plot To Destablise South East Ahead Of 2023

Meanwhile, the president-general of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Prof George Obiozor, alleged yesterday that the recent spate of attacks on the South East is not unconnected with the prospect of the region producing the Nigeria's president in 2023.

Obiozor who disclosed this yesterday while speaking with journalists in Abuja said it is curious that the geo-political zone was one of the most peaceful areas until recent times.

The president-general further decried attempts to compare the newly formed regional security outfit by the South East governors named Ebube Agu with the Eastern Security Network (ESN) set up by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Obiozor stated that as much as Ohaneze welcomes every interest that seeks to protect and ensure justice and equity for the Igbo people, Ebube Agu remains the only recognised network in the region.

He said, "Let me break this issue down for you. All of a sudden because the idea of president from Igbo land has gone from probability to possibility, people want to turn Igbo land into a terrorist environment.

"Igbos are builders, not nation breakers. We are not a violent people. So we must find out the root of the recent spread of violence and kidnappings and all that. People should not see such a thing as a character of the Igbos. It is not in our character.

"Of all things you can accuse Igbos of it is not getting money through laziness like kidnapping and other things."

The disparity between Ebube Agu and ESN, he said, "On which one Ohanaeze is supporting, I would say anyone that is working for the security of Ndigbo is welcome. Ebube Agu is formed by the governors and governments of the South East".

He further implored the two leading political parties in the country, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to choose candidates from the South East as presidential candidates for the 2023 election.

On the political parties he said, "As many as they are, each one of those parties should nominate an Igbo man from the South East.

He said, "A president of Igbo extraction will bring "capacity, difference, justice and equity. It is sad that Nigerian does not want to use the talents of Igbos".

Obiozor further dismissed the claim that South East people are not united politically, noting that the notion that the zone does not speak with one voice reflects the plurality of ideas by an egalitarian people which would be harnessed by Ohaneze.

He said, "Speaking with one voice is dictatorial and undemocratic. We won't speak with one voice. Igbos will express themselves in different voices which will be articulated by a central leadership that knows.

"For the Igbos having variety of opinion is not a crime, no section has only one opinion on an issue. Igbos have different opinions and they all converge on the president of South East in 2023."

On the IPOB question, the former ambassador said "we won't deny IPOB because they are our children.

"They are our children, they are our people and they must listen to us just as we listen to them. Any area of conflict we will resolve them as their father. They must not make unilateral decision for us. They should realise that government is giving them a whole and they are talking about taking a part of it".

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