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Of attacks on police officers and formations

Published by The Nation on Thu, 08 Apr 2021

By Okechukwu Keshi UkegbuSIR: While the Northeast and other parts of the north have been overwhelmed by all manner of criminality ranging from the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and kidnapping among others, the Southeast is increasingly witnessing a a different wave: hoodlums incessantly attacking police formations and officers and carting away ammunitions.At least six police officers were killed by unknown gunmen in Abia in the past month. The last attack against police in the state occurred on March 22 when some yet-to-be-identified gunmen ambushed a police patrol team in Abiriba, Ohafia Local Government Area, killed three officers, set the patrol vehicle ablaze, and fled with the rifles belonging to the slain officers.Shortly after the Abiriba incident, a gang of hoodlums launched another deadly attack on correctional facilities in the neighbouring ImoState thus prompting the state government to commence a curfew in major cities of the state from 10 pm to 6am.The Commissioner for Information in Abia State, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, said the curfew was based on a security report received by the state government and the need to continue to protect innocent citizens and residents of the state.This latest wave of criminality spreading through the Southeast and South-south calls for urgent and appropriate actions lest it explodes in our faces.It raises some questions begging for urgent answers. Among these are the destination(s) of the looted arms and ammunitions and the purposes for which these arms and ammunitions are being amassed.We need no soothsayer to predict the implications of the influx of arms and ammunitions particularly when these get into the hands of unauthorised persons.Just like wildfires are known to start small before they engulf major cities, the ugly spectre of kidnapping is actually linked to the unprecedented proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the Southeast. And if the destinations of these looted arms and the purposes for which they are looted are not resolved, we may be in for another round of crisis.All hands must therefore be on deck to check this ugly trend and to put this menace at bay.Measures should manifest in the governments and security agencies in the affected states upping their ante in intelligence gathering and surveillance to enable the agencies pro-actively and reasonably predictpotential crimes with near perfect accuracy rather than being reactive. Governments should not onlyrely on engaging security agencies but must recognise the need to devote attention to security intelligence.Close Circuit Television cameras should be mounted in strategic locations, especially police formations to monitor human and other movements. Besides, this scheme should be well- managed as to ensure that those cameras are of high quality and the images collected sent to a monitorand recorded on video tape or as digital information. This trend is the primary approach to crime fighting which aims at discouraging crime from taking place by nipping such crime in the bud. It is not only operationally effective but also cost effective.As it is, there is a greater and urgent need to modernise the security agencies with training, improve on intelligence sharing, while embracing advanced technology, logistics, motivation and change of orientation. This will enhance the operational capabilities of the agencies and hence enable them to respond appropriately to emerging security challenges.Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu, keshiafrica@gmail.com
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