Says officers killed, injured to be promoted, compensated, with families.
Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has praised the resilience, patience, and what he described as “maximum restraint” shown by his officers and men even in the face of provocation during the recent EndSARS protests championed by Nigerian youths but which was hijacked by hoodlums. According to Adamu, “That is professionalism which you should continue with”.
The police IG who spoke in Benin, Edo State capital on Wednesday at the headquarters of the state police command as part of his morale-boosting tour of police formations across the country in the aftermath of the violent protests, encouraged the police personnel not to be demoralised, noting that “The attacks on the police and police stations were to demoralise you, to humiliate you, and to make you feel that you do not have support at all in the members of the public; but it is not the case”.
According to him, some state governors came out to support the actions of the police, “especially the way we handled the #EndSARS protests. Some individuals also came out to support the good works of SARS in curbing violent crimes. Despite all #EndSARS protests and attacks on the police, we also got open support from President Muhammadu Buhari. So, you should not be demoralised. You should be resilient”.
Adamu, who in the course of the working visit inspected burnt police stations and vehicles in company with the state deputy governor, Philip Shaibu; Assistant Inspector-General of Police, AIG, Zone 5, Sholla David; and the state commissioner of police, CP, Johnson Babatunde Kokumo, unfolded several compensation packages for deceased and injured officers and their families.
Assuring that the government had not forgotten the police, Adamu disclosed that “A lot of reforms are taking place. A lot of things are being put in place to take care of welfare of officers. The Police Act 2020 has taken care of most of our welfare needs. There will be compensation for policemen who were injured during the #EndSARS protests. Families of policemen who lost their lives will also be compensated. Retired police officers will also enjoy health insurance scheme.
“I am working with the Police Service Commission; all the policemen who were injured or died during the #EndSARS protests will be promoted to the next level. President Buhari, two weeks ago, also approved the adjustment of our salaries to higher grades for all officers”.
Vowing that all that happened in terms of attacks on police and police stations would not stop them from coming out to perform their constitutional duties, the IGP however cautioned that “But while we are performing these constitutional duties, we must also protect ourselves because every policeman is a human being and also entitled to human rights protection. Do not forget Force Order 237. Read and digest it very well and know when you should use firearms. Use your firearms in a lawful manner because you are law-enforcement agents. When you use your firearms wrongly, that is when you will see people protesting. One of the ways you should use your firearms will be when your life is in danger and there is no other way to escape. It does not make sense for a policeman to die while he is carrying a rifle”.
Describing Policemen as “special breeds” in the country because they are specially trained to do the duties that other people are not able to do, Adamu posited that “That is why despite all these attacks on you, you absorbed them; you came out, and you are doing your lawful duties of maintaining law and order, and making sure that crimes are not committed within the society. I encourage you to continue to do that. Do not be demoralised. You do not need to leave the public space open for criminals to take charge. You need to occupy everywhere”.
Tracing the genesis of the EndSARS mayhem to fake news, the visibly somber police chief said “We are all aware of the fake news that spread and caused damage in this country. An incident happened in Ughelli, Delta State, where police officers were on patrol; a unit called Operation Delta Safe, accosted two individuals. As a result of that, one of the individuals got out of his vehicle and fell down, and somebody videoed it and sent it to social media and said operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) had killed an individual. The incident had nothing to do with SARS. The individual did not die; but because of the fake news, it went viral and people in Ughelli came out to protest. Lagos also took it. Then, the agitations to end SARS came up.
“The agitations to end SARS had been on for a very long time, especially since 2015. The people that were calling for end to SARS came out peacefully to protest and they came up with some demands. One of the demands was that SARS should be disbanded. After the protests for about five days, we sat down with them and we disbanded SARS.
“The Federal Government met their five demands. The expectation was that the protests should end and the protesters were supposed to leave the streets; but they did not. The consequence of not leaving the streets is what we have seen. Hoodlums and some elements within the #EndSARS protests became violent, targeting the police, police institutions, and police stations.
“The protesters went to the police stations to attack the police officers and men. Because they wanted them to react with maximum force, but because you are professionals, you are resilient and you know what you are doing; you did not apply maximum force. You applied minimum force and they were disappointed. The police of yesteryears are not the same with the modern police that we have. Your sense of professionalism has shown that you did not give room for the bad guys to succeed. Thank you for that”.
A distraught Adamu regretted that “The violence did not stop in one state. It went to 14 different states. In all the 14 states, it was the same story. In the South-western part, especially Lagos State, and in the South-South zone, Edo and Delta States, we had attacks on police stations. In Lagos State, it was so terrible that private property was destroyed. Vehicles for public use were destroyed. Houses of individuals and their families were destroyed. This is very unfortunate”.
Welcoming the IGP, the state police commissioner described the visit as a step in the right direction which he noted would go a long way to boost the morale of police officers and men of the command “at this trying period”.
Kokumo informed his boss that 126 suspects were arrested for arson and looting while seven police stations were burnt in the state, and eight AK-47 rifles recovered.
“I thank IGP for the visit. Police officers and men of the command will continue to protect lives and property of Edo residents, with crimes and criminality to be reduced to the barest minimum. I also thank Edo State Government for the support”.
In his remarks on behalf of the governor, the deputy governor, Philip Shaibu said “the government and people of Edo State are proud of the IGP. We are with the Nigeria Police and we will continue to support you”. Shaibu recounted how he joined two of the #EndSARS rallies in Benin City, stating that “During the second rally that I joined, I spent over five hours with the peaceful #EndSARS protesters and it was an opportunity to engage the youths. Quite unfortunately, criminals later hijacked the peaceful protests”.
Insisting that “Policemen must occupy the space for the criminals to flee,” the deputy governor said “We love the Nigeria Police. Governor Godwin Obaseki has approved the rebuilding, and in some cases, the rehabilitation of the burnt police stations in Edo State; to buy patrol vehicles and to take care of the medical bills of the policemen who were injured during the #EndSARS protests”.