FEAR OF BOKO HARAM?
For the Nigeria police, the fear of Boko Haram seems the beginning of wisdom. The sect members have killed many policemen, maimed others and sacked police stations, snatching arms and ammunition from the cops.
Since the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, said his men would soon flush out Boko Haram, the sect has vowed to intensify its attacks on the police until the IG tenders an apology. But the IG is not taking the threat lightly. He has ordered all the state police commands to be extremely vigilant.
One of the precautions being taken by the police is that officers below the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP), except unit commanders, are not allowed to park their vehicles in the command. Moreover, visitors, no matter the class, except governors and federal lawmakers, are not allowed to park their vehicles 10 metres to the command.
As if those are not enough, the IG has now ordered the immediate demolition of shops owned by civilians in police barracks and stations across the country.
A visit to the Oduduwa Police Station, which houses the two Mobile Units, MOPOL 20 and 22 control rooms and the office of the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) showed that many shops had been dismantled in the premises.
Some shop owners, who spoke with Daily Sun, said they were not given any notice before their shops were demolished.
A victim, who runs a restaurant and drinking joint at Oduduwa, said he had finished preparing the morning food, including pepper soup worth several thousands of naira, when the provosts stormed the place and started pulling down his shop. He said he lost all the food to the demolition, adding that it would take him many years to recover from the shock and loss he incurred.
Another victim, who simply identified herself as Veronica, blamed the police high command for failing to give the provosts good orientation before they started destroying their shops.
'At least, they should have given us some notice, even if it's just for one day,' she lamented.
Some police officers also condemned the demolition of the shops. An Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) said: 'The police are so disorganised that the authorities don't even know what they are doing. It seems they act before thinking. For instance, I want to make some photocopies now but I can't see where to do it.'
Continuing, he said: 'Most of us serving here were transferred from other states. We sleep in this station. So, we eat in these canteens that were destroyed. This place is a secluded area. Where do we eat now?'
Another senior police officer in the mobile unit said: 'My brother, it is as if we were stabbed with a sharp object. Some of us here are on standby waiting for directives. We used to hang around those shops. Those shops destroyed are where we bathe, change our clothes and feed. We used to do photocopy and iron our uniforms in the shops. But we cannot do those things we used to do.'
He said the police high command should have known that they were mortgaging the lives and future of the children of those whose shops were destroyed.
He said most of the children and wards of the victims of the demolition exercise would stop going to school, noting that it was through the shops that their parents earned a living.
An officer attached to the Provost Marshal told Daily Sun that they were obeying the orders of the IG. 'The commissioner of police directed us to do the demolition. He warned that the order is from above and that we must implement it to the letter. He said it was the IG's belief that the Boko Haram sect might drop explosives in the shops, especially the drinking joints.'
According to him, even at the state command headquarters, the same demolition exercise was ongoing.