Over 100 policemen and 10 operatives of the Department for State Security (DSS) were killed when their convoy ran into an ambush by the Ombatse cult group members. The securitymen were headed for Alakyo to destroy Ombatse shrines, even as Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, blamed the massacre on failure of intelligence gathering. He spoke in Minna yesterday.
Also, the Deputy Force spokesman,. Frank Mba, said yesterday that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, appealed for patience and understanding.
Most of the survivors, according to the sources, said they were in the last vehicles in the convoy, but escaped when they realised that their colleagues in front were behaving like people under a spell.
“Each policeman had at least 30 rounds of ammunition, suggesting that, altogether, they had nothing less than 3,000 rounds. But for supernatural powers, there was no way over 100 trained men, including DSS personnel, could have been slaughtered like chickens, the casualty figure did not correspond with police firepower. Probably, the policemen were charmed by the cultists”, a top police officer rationalised.
One of the officers who led the botched operation, a Deputy Supritendent of Police (names withheld) had in 2010, participated in an attack and counter-attack course in Italy. As at press time, his corpse was listed among the missing ones.
A senior police officer blamed the failure of the operation on inexperience of the officers who authorised it. He stated that more attention should have been devoted to the planning, particularly with reports that an earlier operation suffered a similar fate.
“One very important issue in every operation is exit route. No experienced officer embarks on an operation without factoring in exit route. The absence of an exit route jerked up the casualty figures,” he said.
“We have at least 15 APCs (Armoured Personnel Carriers) in the Force Headquarters. We also have helicopters. Nasarawa State command could have simply loaned the helicopter for aerial surveillance and the APCs for the main operation,” the officer submitted.
In a related development, Gov. Aliyu at the weekend in Minna attributed the recent Nasarawa bloodbath to failure in intelligence gathering by the security agencies.
Speaking at the opening of the one-day Geopolitical Security Awareness workshop, (North Central Edition) in Minna, Aliyu noted that everyone involved in intelligence gathering know that what is required is silent, speed and surprise, but what happened in Nasarawa Eggon a few days ago was probably due to lack of commitment on the part of the professionals.
“I am sure that the people in Nasarawa Eggon got information that the policemen were coming and what I would have expected or what any intelligent person would have done was that in advancing people to the area, even if there were plans on the ground, they could even abort that particular exercise until a more appropriate time,” the governor stated.
He attributed the successful dislodgement of the Darul Salam in Mokwa, Niger State a few years ago to perfect security intelligence exhibited by the police and other security agencies. According to him, those who embarked on the exercise were from outside the state and did not know of their mission until they got to Mokwa, the scene of the incident to avoid leakage of information to those affected.
The governor suggested that the recruitment of people into the security services should be, overhauled to overcome the present security challenges confronting the nation with emphasis on intelligence gathering.
He noted that many people have been recruited in error into the security outfits of the nation as a last resort to secure a job.
“One of the fundamental problems is the recruitment into the security services especially the police. In more advanced societies, entry into the security services is by inclination, desire, personal interest or passion for the profession but not as a final resort to get a job,” he noted.
According to him, “we should not allow our security agencies to be left to those who have failed to find a job in other places. In fact, there must be a director of recruitment right from the school and people at their prime age are trained in line with their passion so that when they come into the job, they will know the securities that are required of them, know what is expected of them to do and know how to handle their citizens.”
Aliyu noted that though several reform policies and reorganizations have been introduced into the police force, many issues still remain unresolved.
Some of these issues, according to him, include extra-judicial killings, accidental discharges, excursion of suspects, missing case files, detention without trial, stalled investigation, denied justice due to delayed prosecution, extortion and corruption.
The governor also identified poor remuneration, lack of adequate operational equipment for the officers and men, lack of training and exposure to hazards and risks without adequate insurance cover as some of the major problems affecting the effectiveness of the police in performing their onerous assignments.
IGP Abubakar, who was represented by Deputy Inspector-General Marvel Akpoyibo, said that there is the need for active community partnership to achieve national security adding that for effective policing, useful information should be provided by the people to the police for prompt and utmost performance.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan met with security chiefs in Abuja last Friday where he ordered investigation into the killings. The security chiefs that attended the parley include the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade (rtd), National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), Chief of Defence Staff,Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Alex Sasandu Badeh, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Dele Ezeoba, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Dikko Abubakar and the Director-General, Department of State Security (DSS), Mr Ita Ekpenyong.
The President had last Thursday cut his state visit to Namibia.
Also, in its effort to encourage a wider and communal participation in the investigation into the Nasarawa killings, the Police High Command has established a dedicated telephone line for members of the public who may wish to provide vital and useful information to the force.
A statement by the Deputy Force spokesman, Frank Mba, a Chief Superintendent, said the IGP yesterday appealed to Nigerians who has information that could assist ongoing investigation not to hesitate in providing same to the police, promising that all such information will be treated with utmost confidentiality. Such information can be provided via phone number 07066228200 (calls or SMS) or email: email@example.com. The IGP reminded the public that an attack on the security forces of any nation is an attack on the entire nation. He appealed to Nigerians to support the police as they strive to tackle this and other security challenges facing the nation.
In a related development, in an effort to ameliorate the plight of the dependants and family members of the fallen police officers, “the IGP has ordered the immediate relocation of the Force Welfare Officer, DCP Abiodun Ige from Force Headquarters to Nasarawa State to enable her effectively and speedily coordinate all welfare-related issues touching on the families of the late officers, including but not limited to the payment of all statutory and relevant compensations.
“The IGP appeals for patience and understanding of family and friends of the slain officers, particularly as it relates to the issue of the release of the bodies of the officers, promising that all corpses will be released as soon as preliminary enquiries are concluded.”
While restating the commitment of the force to uncover and bring to book the perpetrators of this crime, the IGP reassures the family members and friends of the deceased that the force is united with them in grief and will neither forsake nor abandon them at this trying moment”, he said.