- By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
Recently, Nigeria Police launched probe into some arms that are declared missing.According to the force spokesman, Muyiwa Adejobi, the Inspector-Generalof Police(IGP), Usman Baba had directed the Assistant- Inspector- General (AIG) in charge of the armoury to investigate the missing over 91,000 rifles in the armoury.
According to Adejobi, the force placed a high premium on the issue of arms and ammunition.
Adejobi said, “The issue of arms is a very sensitive thing to us and we don’t toy with it. There are processes for checking arms according to our regulations.
“On a regular basis, the assistant commissioner of police in charge of operations of every command always checks arms.
“That number is on the high side; I don’t think we would have lost such a number of weapons. What we need to do is to reconcile our report with the one being quoted. We have our records too.
“I guess there are some arms on loan to various formations. For instance, if a certain number of arms are given to Lagos for special operations, all these movements are always documented but are complex. The IG has directed the AIG armament to come out with a report.”
Adejobi added, “This is a common thing we do internally in the police even without the effort of any external auditor, because arms are very paramount to us.
“Because of the sensitive nature of arms and handling of arms, we don’t joke with them. Again, I don’t think we have lost that large number of arms; I think that there might be some gaps somewhere that we need to juxtapose and reconcile our records. There could be some arms that are for safe-keeping.
“For instance, if some men sign for arms in Sokoto and are going for operations in Kastina; when they get to Katsina, there may be the need for them to keep their arms in safe-keeping. But the original owners of the arms will just be recorded that their weapons are with someone else.
“If we don’t reconcile that account, you may say the arms are missing in Sokoto. And there are some arms that statutorily are to be signed to individuals as personal pistols.
“It is common saying that it is better for a policeman to die than to lose his arms, because of the problem that will follow.”
He said it would take a while to reconcile because of the large number of police formations and commands.
Adejobi stated, “We are taking our time to reconcile our records. We have many formations that have armouries, including training schools, and we have 37 commands.
“We need some time. We are not saying we have not lost arms; we have lost arms due to attacks; even during operations three days ago, our men were attacked and some rifles were taken away, which we are sure we will recover. We have also recovered a lot.”
It is stunning to also note that a report by the Auditor-General of the Federation revealed that no fewer than 178,459 pieces of armaments were missing from the police armoury without any formal report of their whereabouts.
The figure comprises 88,078 AK-47 rifles and 3,907 assorted rifles and pistols could not be accounted for as of January 2020, neither were they reported to any higher authority, the report stated.
This is as the Nigeria Police Force has said it is reconciling its records to ascertain the number of arms missing from its armoury.
The news of missing arms which whereabouts cannot be traced is not palatable at this time of the nation’s history. One, the nation is approaching another election season and the political atmosphere is becoming tense by the seconds. We have witnessed ugly incidents in the past where arms build ups prior to election periods have scaled up politically- motivated assassinations, intimidations, and other forms of electoral violence. Of a serious note that the coming election season is a transition period where one administration is giving way to a new administration, and in most cases, as the case has always be, it may assume a do or die affair.
Two, is that gun violence is escalating in the country geometrically per second in the form of terrorism, banditry, cultism, robbery,with attendant consequences such as murder, rape, maiming, among others.
If the assurances of the Nigeria Police should be taken serious, the probe into the missing arms should be approached with all amount of seriousness it requires. It should not be business as usual where outcomes of probes are swept under the carpet. There should not be sacred cows- those found wanting in the process should be adequately punished to serve as deterrent to prospective offenders.
Another important.leg of the argument is that the whereabouts of those arms should be painstakingly traced to mop them to stall arms circulating in the wrong hands or arms being amassed where the public would not be safe.
It is more important for the recruitment process of the police to be rejigged to ensure that the force would cease to be a haven for people with criminal tendencies or people with dented records and questionable characters. It should not be a dumping ground for academic failures all or manner of people looking for a place seek refuge to perpetrate evil.
While the public welcome the recent call by the Police Service Commission (PSC) to always raise alarm when the notice people with questionable characters seeking recruitment into the police force,we believe that the onus lies with them and other related and appropriate bodies to ensure that the recruitment process is sanitised to ensure that bad elements do not gain entrance into the force.
At this juncture, all hands must be on deck to ensure that this monster is put at bay once and for all!
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