Be ruthless with secessionists in Southeast, IGP charges policemen

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Usman Alkalli Baba

The acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba has charged policemen serving in the Southeast region to deal ruthlessly with criminal elements and secessionists that may attempt to take the risk of testing their will.

He encouraged the policemen to be firm with criminal elements that may be threatening the citizens within their area of jurisdiction.

The IGP gave the order on Tuesday when he, in the company of southeast governors launched a special operation, codenamed ‘Operation Restore Peace’ (Operation RP) in the Southeast geo-political zone at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu.

Further more, he advised the police officers and men deployed on the special operation to see their deployment as a call to national duty, as according to him, the force leadership and indeed, “the entire nation are looking out for two major outcomes as you discharge your duties during this operation. First, to stabilize the security order in the Southeast in the shortest possible time. Second, to be professional in your conduct as you strive to attain this objective.”

The acting IGP exhorted the policemen to be civil with the law-abiding citizens and respect the rights of the citizens and undertake the operation within the dictates of rule of law, however, charged them to defend themselves against any armed group that might attempt to attack them, any police assets and other critical national infrastructure.

In his description,he stated that the people of Southeastern Nigeria are historically peaceful, tolerant, innovative, industrious and entrepreneurial, who are highly respected citizens that have made their marks in the field of academics, scientific inventions and commerce.

He regretted  however that despite the fact that the southeasterners were a unique ethnic group that freely and peacefully live with others across the country and within the Southeast, the events of late had altered the positive narrative.

In his view, “The Zone in recent years has been witnessing increasing cases of kidnapping, armed robbery and communal violence. This trend has of late been laced with inter-ethnic intolerance and separatist agitation as championed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).

“The separatist agenda of this group has assumed an armed dimension in which important political and community leaders as well as personnel and assets of the Nigeria Police, Military and other security agencies are being constantly targeted in clearly well-coordinated, premeditated violent attacks in the region.

“Aside this, the deepening inter-ethnic prejudice and intolerance in the region is also occasioning unjustifiable inter-ethnic violence and counter-violence. Apart from the massive loss of property and fatalities to lives, the violent campaigns are beginning to have damaging effect on the socio-economic development of the region.

“This trend is being compounded by the illegal proliferation of firearms as well as the deployment of the social media by the leadership of IPOB to indoctrinate, misinform, and misdirect south easterners towards the path of violent separatism. This evolving trend constitutes a major threat to our nation’s internal security and national unity and, hence, requires urgent sets of all-inclusive actions in order to roll back the disastrous tide.”

Alkali explained that the launch of ‘Operation RP’ was conceptualized to ensure that “we should as a people, be determined to build a consensus, partner in condemning any act of criminality and resolve to work with the police and other security agencies towards identifying, isolating and bringing the criminal elements within our communities to deserved justice.

“There must come a time in the life of a nation when we, as a people, must strengthen our will, and resolve to mobilise and deploy all our assets towards confronting these criminal elements, take the battle to their doorsteps, and make a clear statement that the few deviants within us cannot and will not re-order our cherished national values. The time is now. Today’s launch of ‘Operation RP’ by the Nigeria Police is aimed at this direction and it follows the directives of Mr. President to the Nigeria Police to re-evaluate and emplace new operational strategies to stem the tide of violence and secessionist agenda not only in the South East but across the country.

“As the lead agency in the internal security framework of this country, the Nigeria Police under the current dispensation acknowledges that the duty of securing the lives and property of the citizens is its primary mandate. This responsibility imposes on us the obligation of upholding the dictates of the Constitution, restoring peace and order where they are threatened and protecting the citizens from any form of threats to their lives and values.

“The launch of ‘Operation RP’ in Enugu today is the first in the line of our strategic Action Plan to restore peace across the country and in the coming days, the special operation will be extended to other parts of the country to address peculiar crimes including banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery in other geopolitical Zones. It is to be emphasized that ‘Operation RP’ will cover all the States within the southeast Geopolitical Zone. I am confident that with the support of all strategic stakeholders, the operation will in due course; change the current security narratives in the Zone for good.”

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