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Terrorist attacks: It’ll be tough, rough –Onovo, Attah warn

Two former Inspectors General of Police (IGP) said yesterday, that the rising spate of criminality and terrorist activities across the country ahead of the April 2011 general elections was not unexpected, as there had been signs that all was not well with the nation’s security system and the polity.

Speaking with Daily Sun on telephone from his countryhome in Enugu , the immediate past inspector general of police [IGP], Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, said prior to his retirement last year, he had taken a critical look at the state of the nation and predicted that the future would be tough and rough.

In the same vein, former IGP under the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida [retd], Alhaji Aliyu Attah, noted that dangerous signals were ominous, and warned the core security agencies to eschew unnecessary rivalry and work in cohesion especially in the area of intelligence gathering and dissemination to save the nation from avoidable catastrophe.
“I really don’t want to say anything; I just want to keep quiet for now.

But if you go back to my speech when I retired and was handing over to Ringim, I said everything I had to say about the state of the nation. And that was all what I had to say. I said the future would be tough; that the future would be rough, and that I wish him well. I also spoke on the fact that the removal of an IG or any other head of security agency in the present circumstances was not the solution to solving the nation’s multi-faceted security problems,” Onovo remarked.

The Enugu State-born former number one cop would not want to be drawn into talks on the forthcoming general elections and heightening terrorist insurgency, but expressed conviction that 2011 will not be a make or mar year for Nigeria as widely envisaged.

His words: “I do not believe that Nigeria will break up this year; all that are happening presently will come to pass. We must survive as a nation, because all these things will pass away. The Americans passed through it; there are several other countries that had survived such threats of disintegration. We are praying for our country and I know that with God by our side, we shall overcome it, but what is paramount now is that we must all come together and work together for peace to reign. Please, that is all I have to say; I don’t want to talk. I want to remain quiet”.

Reacting to the recurring bomb blasts and tension in the polity, ex-IGP, Alhaji Aliyu Attah, blamed the development on the lack of cooperation among the various security agencies in the country, particularly; the State Security Service [SSS], the police and other intelligence agencies.
Attah, who spoke with Daily Sun on telephone yesterday from London, urged the Police, SSS, Military Intelligence and the National Intelligence Agency [NIA], to close ranks and embark on a well-coordinated approach to intelligence gathering and sharing, if current efforts at tackling the emerging security challenges are to achieve any meaningful result.

Specifically, he expressed dismay at the widening gap between the police and the SSS, a situation, he observed, had become counter- productive. According to him, “presently, we have bomb blasts all over the country, in Bayelsa, Jos, Abuja , all over. And things are really going bad. I want us, the security agencies, be you the IGP or DG SSS, to go back to the basics; we’ve left traditions behind. I worked in police training institutions for over ten years and rose to the position of commandant. I was in Police College , Kaduna , Police College , Ikeja, and so on.

In those days, the police and other security agencies, especially the SSS, worked together. Now, everybody is working differently; everybody is a boss of himself. And here we have the PRO [Public Relations Officer] of SSS talking on television, showing people what they’ve done. It doesn’t happen. These are people who worked in secrecy. Nobody knows them; nobody hears them. And they must work hand-in-hand with the police.

The head of SSS and the head of the police worked together. But now, it is not so. I want them to sit together and think for the whole country; let them work together”.
Commenting on anticipated violence in the build-up to the next general elections, the former police chief recalled a scenario during the regime of ex-President Shehu Shagari, while making a veiled reference to the recent killing of Alhaji Lateef Salako, aka Eleweomo, factional leader of the National Union of Road Transport Workers [NURTW] in Oyo State .

He was caught in a hail of bullets allegedly fired by security details attached to the Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin, while trying to repel an attack on the lawmaker. To curb the wanton use of firearms by security aides attached to political office holders during campaigns and on the polling days, Attah warned the IGP, Mr. Hafiz Ringim to take decisive steps towards protecting the lives and property of the citizenry.
Although Ringim had, on assumption of duty, ordered the withdrawal of police orderlies and security from unauthorized persons, Attah wanted the directive to be extended to over 90 per cent of public and political office holders with the exception of the President, his deputy; governors and their deputies; President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives and their deputies, Chief Justice of the Federation, and a few others statutorily entitled to police protection.

Said he: “I remembered what happened during the Shagari time when one Dosumu was given a policeman; there was a problem, and Dosumu asked the policeman to shoot at somebody. When he did and the person was killed, Dosumu ran away and the policeman was in soup. So, what I want is that because we are moving into political time, most of the people using police orderlies should be stripped of such privilege”.

Attah, who said he had foreseen the scenario, noted that his position was based on unfolding political events. “I have been thinking of what is going on politically for some months now. We have a list of people entitled to police orderlies; not now that we have hundreds and thousands of politicians having police orderlies. And most of them are men of the Police Mobile Force [PMF]. We need to withdraw these men for proper training and then position them in places where they can take care of the country. They should give orderlies to very few people who are entitled. The police should go back to the tradition that the expatriates that handed over to us left behind”.

Asked to rate the performance of the present IGP based on the prevailing situation in the country, Attah declined, saying “I don’t want to rate him now because I am still in Britain . When I come and see him, then I can rate him. When I come back, we will sit down and discuss and he will tell me the things he is lacking; if he had been talking to the people in authority and their response. And it is after talking to him that I can rate him.”

He, however, urged Ringim and President Goodluck Jonathan to re-activate the Retired IGPs Forum [ RIF ] and tap from the wealth of experience from members comprising indigenous ex-Inspectors General of police, with a view to effectively confronting the nation’s security crises.

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Posted by on Jan 2 2011. Filed under Latest Politics, Nigerian Police. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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