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Police IRT and The Stress of Fighting Kidnapping in Nigeria by Saleh Bature

The Nigerian police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) has arrested the most wanted kidnapping kingpin who has been terrorizing commuters plying Abuja-Kaduna-Kano highway. Like most of those who had been arrested before him, Bello Audu Aka Yellow, Fulani, aged 40, has pleaded for clemency. The man who claimed to have killed more than 10 of his victims and rustled more than a hundred thousand cattle appeared nervous and remorseful in the hand of the police. Most criminals under interrogation are like deer caught in the headlights. It is now that yellow, the notorious criminal, who looks like a dog caught with its tail tucked between its legs, will show regret for his wickedness.

I realize that most Nigerians don’t see or appreciate the wonderful job the police are doing in arresting the hoodlums who terrorize us. I take exception to the severe chatisement of the police by Nigerians. I was part of the bandwagon which nursed this opinion before. I had to change my mind after watching a one hour BBC Africa Eye documentary on the operations of police IRT, led by the current shining star of the Nigerian police, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari. The police told the BBC reporter, Kunle Falayi, that the criminals use more sophisticated and powerful weapons than the police. This is really saddening.

The IRT has lost more than 10 of its members in active service recently. Worthy of mention is the pathetic story by wife of one of the slained members of the team who complained that nothing has been given to her and the 3 kids under her custody, four months after the death of her husband in active service for the nation. The dirty and small house built on sand in which family of the deceased live shows the level of negligence of the police by the Nigerian state. It is wrong to treat the police with such utter naivety. This is just one instace. There may be more families sufering from such injustice.

There is no doubt that the police as an institution has a notoriety for corruption. However, Corruption is not peculiar to the police. It is a common issue to all institutions in the country. It is therefore a gross injustice to punish the Nigerian police force who our government equip with 19th centuary obsolete weapons to fight crime in the 21st centuary. The Nigerian police is a true reflection of the system we operate. Even with the lack of incentives, paucity and poor quality of the equipment it uses in preventing crime, our police have been able to persistently apprehend criminal gangs in all parts of the country. They deserve commendation atleast for this feat.

The whole nation depends on Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in converting crime, said commander Abba Kyari. As important as IRT is to converting banditry and kidnapping in the country, one would have expected their operational head quarters to be a 21st centuary crime control, prevention and management compliant office. An office which is saddled with such a huge responsibility should have ordinarily been equipped with modern communication gadgets that are used in preventing crime. To my chagrin, I saw only a handful of laptops in a small office. This shows that the government is not really prepared to fight the scourge of crime in our country?

If we are serious, The government should provide IRT with unmanned drones that will serve as the eyes of its team members in the sky, to capture video and images of cattle rustlers, bandits and Kidnappers in their hideouts in the bush. The list of gadgets provided by modern technology in fighting crime is endless. Therefore, I emphasize on the drone because it is one of the most common technology that can provide real-time information to crime fighters from the comfort of their office.

It is important to know that there is no miracle or magic wand the Nigerian Police men can perform to end this senseless killings of innocent people across the country. The answer lie in the provision of modern technology and use of intelligence in crime prevention, motivation through training and good remuneration. The government, not the police, is responsible for providing these.

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