The shades of mystery casing the influx of arms and ammunition into illegal hands may be gradually unravelling. Recently, the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts reportedly beamed its klieg light into the 2010 query raised by the Auditor-General (AG) of the Federation against indiscriminate disappearance of rifles and ammunition allocated to some state police commands. For instance, in Ekiti State Police Command alone, 57,000 live ammunitions were unbelievably declared missing.
Solomon Adeola, Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts gave a graphic breakdown of items in the AG’s query to include in Ekiti command: one AK 47 rifle-No. BD359073 with 20 rounds of live ammunition; another AK 47- No. BA 405835; one Berate pistol and two pump action rifles. Also in Jalingo, capital of Taraba State, one pump action gun and cartridges with 30 rounds of ammunition were declared missing in the query. The same loss of firearms was captured in the AG’s query in Edo State.
Despite the role that the police as an institution is expected to play in protecting the law, it is unfortunate that these losses had been treated with scorn and without deference to the provisions of the law. The query gave the clincher in this regard where it clearly reveals that “…losses had not been reported officially in line with the Financial Regulation Chapter 26,” while ‘Treasury Form 146 had not been completed as required by law.’
This obvious infraction of the law by the police authority, especially on such important issue as that of misappropriation of arms and ammunition is condemnable. More stupefying is the fact that the police were found wanting, through unconvincing explanations, on the matter. The Inspector-General of Police, Mr M.D Mohammed, contemptuously refused to appear, despite summons, before the House committee to answer questions on the damning queries on the police covering a period of four years, 2006-2010.
The explanations given by Mr. Suleiman Fakai, Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) in-charge of Administration during his appearance before the House committee that two police officers who were involved in the missing 57,000 live ammunitions in Ekiti State had been arrested, prosecuted and dismissed belatedly diminishes the severity of the matter at hand. More condemnable is the fact that the DIG could not provide relevant original documents to back up his claims. This is poor accountability. Does it mean that just two police officers were involved in such huge criminal rackets? Could such act of criminality have been committed without the connivance of other top personnel of the force? Why is the crime of arms and ammunition racketeering becoming incessant in police commands across the country?
The House of Representatives should pursue this matter to a logical conclusion. At the last count, not less than 134 vital queries, in the last six years, are reportedly standing against the police in the House. The police, as protector of the law, should not intimidate the legislature, a law making organ of government, from carrying out its oversight function on the force. After all, nobody or institution of government is above the law- the police inclusive. At this security challenging period in the country’s annals when armed insurgents’ activities thrive unabashedly, the police force should be prepared to account for every arm and ammunition allocated to it.
The menace of arms proliferation can only be curbed if there is transparency and accountability in the way and manner ammunition given to the police, and even the military, are judiciously deployed. All those involved in this gun running rackets in the police must be fished out and made to face the full wrath of the law.