Written by Saxone Ahkaine (Kaduna), Mohammed Abubakar, Karls Tsokar (Abuja) and Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri) (With agency report)
• Cameroun claims killing over 100 terrorists
• Insurgents allege capture of Bama, others
• Govt to restructure Defence Ministry
NO fewer than 20 police officers are still unaccounted for after an attack on the Mobile Police Force Training Camp in Gwoza, Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents.
The Acting Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, disclosed this Tuesday while speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said that serious efforts were being made to locate the missing security operatives.
He also confirmed that 35 police officers were missing from the training school when the insurgents struck initially, but that some of them had either reported back to the school or to their families.
He described the turnout of some of the missing police officers as “impressive”, noting: “Well, I must tell you that the turnout of those missing is still impressive because we have been able to trace some of the officers who have reported either back to their bases or their families. When you go through what they went through, the likelihood of you knowing what to do is not very tenable.
“There is a possibility that the decision of what to do may not be easily comprehensible. So some went back to their homes but our concern is that once they are in safety we are satisfied and the process of bringing them back to their units has already commenced.”
He vowed that everything was being put in place to ensure that all the policemen returned well and safe. “I must tell you it is just less than 20 but we are still concerned with every one of them and unless we are able to account for each and everyone of them we will not relent in the efforts of tracing them,” he said.
Abba, who spoke extensively on the ongoing reorganisation in the police said, it was intended not only to boost the morale of the personnel, but also to raise their professional attainment.
His words: “The ongoing reorganisation in the police is not reorganisation in itself but repositioning officers that could lead to the advancement of the force.
“What we are trying to do is a normal thing, it has always been done, we assess performance and also take into cognisance vacancies available. We are all aware that quite a number of commissioners of police retired recently. Some of them were course mates of the retired IGP, so they left along with him after their 35 years in service. So it is just an effort to fill vacancies and of course repositioned the officers based on performance to face the challenges.”
One of the challenges he is facing, according to him, is changing a culture people have been used to for too long.
“Well, the one I consider most important is the one that is most difficult. When you are changing a culture that has been there for too long then you should know that you are going to face a lot of challenges. Those involved in changes will tell you changing the culture, changing the character, changing the attitude of personnel is very, very difficult.
“Naturally, it comes with resistance, it comes with a lot of challenges on its own. Somehow someone has to do it and I feel not minding the challenges I will face, the good thing is that we have started. Like I said it is a difficult thing to do, it will take a little while to see it.”
On what is being done to boost the morale of officers and men in the face of security challenges, he said: “Well, you know every police officer knows that if you are on the streets, there is the likelihood that you will come across someone who wants to do what is not right, who wants to commit a crime and sees you as an enemy.
“So, once you are on patrol, you should know that there are also dangers associated with policing and patrolling. So to us facing dangers in the performance of police duties is not new. What is new is that this time around the enemy is highly armed and that is why the military is there to support us in fighting them.”
Besides, the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, yesterday claimed the capture of Bama in Borno State and Michika, Bazza and Mararaban Mubi in Adamawa State by his members in the two-week operations they had along Bama-Michika-Mubi border.
In a telephone interview with reporters in Maiduguri, yesterday Shekau said: “This is a rebuttal from the information dissemination and sensitisation unit of the Jamaatul Ahlil Sunna Lidawati Wal Jihad (Boko Haram) on the series of lies that the Nigeria military has been feeding the world on our recent conquests in Borno and Adamawa states in the last two weeks.”
On the captured towns, Shekau insisted: “Let the whole world know that we are on the path of victory because up to this minute of today (Tuesday), the town of Bama is under our control, the whole of Minchika is now in our hands, as well as Manalapan (Junction of) Mubi is now fully under our control.”
He also claimed: “We are assuring the world that this would be continuous and there will be no going back by God’s grace.”
Cameroun said its soldiers had killed “more than 100” Boko Haram fighters during an attempted incursion by the insurgents.
The Camerounian army dealt “a severe setback” to Boko Haram during clashes in the north of the country on Saturday, government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary said in a statement read out on state radio yesterday.
According to the Agence France Presse (AFP), the statement, which could not be immediately verified, said Boko Haram militants fired two shells on the town of Fotokol in Cameroun’s northern tip, on the border with Nigeria.
“There were no casualties reported on the Camerounian side,” the statement said.
“Our defence forces responded vigorously with mortar fire aimed at the positions held by units of the Boko Haram terrorist group. The Camerounian response resulted in over 100 deaths among the aggressors.”
The Boko Haram militants were pushed back towards the Nigerian border town of Gamboru Ngala, separated only by a footbridge from Cameroun, which they seized over a week ago.
Meanwhile, following the security challenges in Nigeria, the Federal Government is to reorganise bureaucratic structures at the Defence Ministry.
The Minister of Defence, Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd), said yesterday in Abuja at the inauguration of the National Defence College Course 23 intake that “the government is embarking on restructuring the Ministry of Defence, to speed up the process of decision making in the ministry.”
According to Gusau, it has become imperative to reorganise the ministry “to enable the Armed Forces operate as a modern military, which was the reason behind the elimination of all bureaucratic bottlenecks to be able to achieve targets on time.”
Gusau who was represented on the occasion by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, also debunked media reports that suggest that the military is losing the war against terrorism in Northeast Nigeria.