Can the Yobe and Borno police command meet President Buhari’s December deadline on insurgency?

The Vanguard reports that the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police, Zone 12, in charge of Bauchi, Yobe and Borno states, Mr Tunde Ogunsakin, has pledged to meet the December deadline given by the president to end the Boko Haram insurgency. He made this declaration during his courtesy visit to the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwan Suleiman Adamu, in his palace. “We are happy that the end of insurgency in the country, particularly the North-East, is very close and the terrorists are currently on the run” he said.

AIG Ogunsakin was in the news earlier in the year when he was reportedly sent out of Rivers state by the presidency for allegedly being ‘anti-PDP’. In April 2015, while he was still the AIG of Zone 6 in Calabar, Ogunsakin was asked to leave Rivers state where he had gone to oversee governorship and state assembly elections. This was after he reportedly ordered investigations into reports that PDP supporters were thumb-printing ballot papers en masse in some locations in the city. He also ordered the arrest of some political thugs who planned to disrupt the elections.

Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe are the states that make up northeastern Nigeria. In the last five years, the Boko Haram sect has launched several attacks, particularly, in these states within the country, resulting in scores of deaths and mass migration of people who lived in those areas.

Regardless of the efforts made by Nigerian law enforcement agents, members of the Boko Haram sect appear to be winning the ongoing war between terrorism and justice. In September 2015, the Nigerian Observer noted; “Nigerian soldiers deployed to the North-East region have several times complained that the terrorists are better armed with high-powered assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and even armored personnel carriers.”

In October 2015, President Buhari asked the military to crush insurgency in the country by December 2015. Although, on December 7, he reportedly said the timeline was only meant as a guideline to ensuring the complete elimination of insurgency in the country.

“Let me emphasize that the time frame given should serve as a guide and if exigencies of multiple operations across the country requires modification, the Federal Government will not hesitate to do so in order to address the flash points that are emerging in parts of the country. The Nigerian Army must, therefore, develop strategies to address the current challenges facing the country and ensure total elimination of the insurgents.”

However, the pledge AIG Ogunsakin gave, ensuring that the police could meet the December deadline, might suggest a new battle line being drawn between the Nigerian Police Force and Boko Haram terrorists. There are only two weeks left in December, how will the national police force be able to achieve this goal? According to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index, Nigeria ranks third with a score of 9.213, it also features Nigeria as one of the countries with the highest number of deaths from terrorism.

Global Terrorism Index
Global Terrorism Index

The report also specifies Boko Haram attacks as concentrated mainly in the north eastern part of Nigeria where Boko Haram is based, with 40 percent of attacks in their home state of Borno. The most attacks occurred in Maiduguri, the regional capital of Borno State and Kano, which is the second largest city in Nigeria.

In September 2015, Leadership Nigeria reported that 4,000 police operatives were deployed to aid the Nigerian military in the battle against insurgency in the north east. The Zone 12 command, under AIG Ogunsakin, has achieved some level of success against Boko Haram in the past and this suggests that the members of the force under him are committed to the fight against the terror sect regardless of challenges ahead. Last month, Zone 12 police officers arrested a Boko Haram fighter, Muhammed Usman, who had been declared as a wanted person by the Nigerian Army earlier. After Usman’s arrest, he was handed over to the army.

According to the police, the arrest was facilitated mostly by members of the public, who work closely with the police to ensure terror suspects were caught by the authorities. Perhaps this success is something that can work in favor of the AIG Ogunsakin-led Zone 12 police command. ‘The police is your friend’ mantra may not be so overrated in Nigeria after all.

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