Police, this is the way to go
Two days ago the Police announced the release of Major General Nelson Williams (rtd), Deputy High Commissioner of Sierra Leone in Nigeria who was kidnapped along the Abuja-Kaduna highway last Friday. Police said his release was achieved through “credible intelligence and technical support.” The diplomat’s kidnap was very embarrassing but the fact that he has been freed alive and in spite of his grueling experience is a boost to the image of Nigerian laws enforcement.
Before the release of the diplomat, there were several instances in which the police and other security agencies captured kidnappers and perpetrators of violent crimes. For instance, in June the police arrested and paraded the killers of Colonel Ismail Inusa of the Army School of Infantry Corps, Jaji who was abducted on March 27. The suspects’ arrest was a positive development. Also in May, military intelligence captured the killers of Major General Mohammed Shuwa (rtd), the legendary Civil War commander who was killed by suspected Boko Haram members on November 2, 2012. Furthermore, the police arrested three suspects in the killing of Madam Bridget Agbahime, 74, in Kano over alleged blasphemy. The killing of Madam Bridget caused uproar all over the country and it was feared the police could give up on the arrest of culprits because the crime was committed by a mob. However, it turned out that their diligent investigation led to the arrest of some suspects. In respect of the killing of one Methudos Emmanuel Ugwuanyi, 20, in Pandogari area of Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, in May, the Police said it arrested 14 suspects who are at present undergoing prosecution.
These are positive developments and they give Nigerians confidence that the police have awakened from their slumber. Being able to capture perpetrators of violent crimes does the country’s image a lot of good and is the ultimate deterrence to crime. It is better than resorting to blamegames and crude stereotyping, such as accusing “Fulani herdsmen” of attacks, blaming “Boko Haram” for bomb explosions or even blaming a “mob” for a killing. Sometimes communities are accused of not cooperating with the police by failing to expose criminal elements; or in engaging in selfpity by lamenting poor infrastructure or poor funding of the Police. For every criminal act that is committed, there is a person or persons who did it and the Police should fish out the culprits and make them to face the wrath of the law.
We call on all citizens to collaborate with the police by sharing information that could help in tracking down criminals. On its part, the police should develop relationships with various communities in areas where kidnapping is prevalent so that they could earn the confidence of the people and engage them in the fight against violent crimes. For instance, it would help if the police could penetrate the ranks of herdsmen in several parts of the country, as they could provide intelligence information on those of them engaged in kidnapping and violent crimes. Also, the police should look inward and purge themselves of bad eggs who collaborate with criminals, as it is a popular belief that no criminal element can survive in his acts for too long unless he has police cover.
The Police alone may not be able to do the job. The judiciary must do its part by speedily deciding cases involving kidnapping and violent crimes so that punishment could be meted out to deter other intending criminals. Eleven states have passed laws that make kidnapping a capital offence but partly because judicial processes are long and cumbersome, not one kidnapper has as yet faced the firing squad. The wheels of justice should be speeded up. That, plus the prompt apprehension of criminals, is the anti-dote to the upsurge in violent crime and kidnappings that we are witnessing in this age.