Indications have emerged as to why policemen and officers are still reluctant in reporting to their duty posts despite the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu’s orders that they should go back to their work.
Police presence has been largely anonymous since the burning and looting which attended the #EndSARS protest went awry.
The law enforcement agents who became targets of attack stood down. Multiple sources, who spoke with Sunday Telegraph on condition of anonymity, said nothing has changed since the mayhem last month in which 22 police officers were killed and 205 stations destroyed.
Also, they said that they are still vulnerable and are under greater threat than the EndSARS protests began. Arms and weapons looted during the carnage are now in the hands of enemies of the state. “Since after the attacks, nothing has changed in terms of what led to the protests in the first instance,” volunteered a serving Divisional Police Officer (DPO).
Part of the demands of the protesters was that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) should be disbanded. The IG in response announced the dissolution of the unit and replaced it with Special Weapon and Tactics Team (SWAT). “It is a lie that they have been disbanded. They were only posted to other sections where they were debriefed.
“They should mention the hospitals where they are being tested either medical or psychological tests. “Government is not being sincere. Where are the weapons? The government should live up to their responsibilities. For some states which created special units like the RRS in Lagos, and special operations through their states’ security trust funds, only God knows what would have happened. “We are still left to source for running costs. We depend on the community where the station is located to run them.
“Our barracks and offices have been razed. We have nowhere to report to for work. We are still on the same salaries and allowances which are not paid most of the time. “What is the guarantee that the person who goes through training under the same parlous state of infrastructure would not turn out to be what the society is crying out about?” queried one of our sources.
On the SWAT team, another source said that they are yet to be assigned upgraded weapons. The much talked about special weapons are nowhere. As common as hot water spray vehicles deployed to disperse violent protesters are not available. “How many command headquarters can boast of up to date tear gas canisters. The ones we have since expired.”
Furthermore, another source told the newspaper that they lack bulletproof vests, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) are only in name as the few they have cannot withstand the heavy assault.
“That was why we lost some APC to looters and arsonists who set them ablaze,” said the official. But Force Public Relations Officer, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Frank Mba disputed the claims.
In a reaction to the allegations, he said that the IGP and members of his management team are carrying out the directives of the president and the debriefing of the men of the disbanded SARS is an on-going thing. He said: “They are undergoing both medical and psychological tests in Police facilities.
We have brought in psychologists to be part of the process. “Currently training is going on in Akwanga, Nasarawa State and Ila – Orangun, Osun State, for those that will go the new SWAT. It is only those who pass the tests will make it while anyone who fails will be deployed elsewhere. “There is nowhere in the world where medicals are done in the open. It is a universal law that the principle of confidentiality is respected.”
Also, he said that no member of the disbanded SARS will make the new SWAT team. “Retaining them will amount to recycling them. There is no sense in doing that as the members of the public who protested against their excesses know some of them.
It will be counterproductive for them to be members of the new tactical team,” he explained. On the expired tear gas canisters, Mba said he would not talk about it as “that would amount to revealing my strength and weaknesses.” However, he admitted that: “We need to be re-equipped, we need to restock, and we need a decent environment were to carry out our duties.”
Mba asked the community to warm up to the policemen and assure them that they appreciate what they are doing and they can only give their best where they are loved. “The IG is doing everything within to find solutions to the issues at hand both in the short term and in the long term.
That is why he has embarked on a tour of the commands in order to assure the men and officers that they are loved to boost their morale to enable them to give their all before the unfortunate incidents. “It is our hope that out of the ashes a new culture of Police community partnership shall emerge.”