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Nigeria Police In Conflict With Other Security Departments: Civil Defense (Part 2) – By Okemiri

- Police Kill Some Civil Defense Officers

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Okemiri Wrote: Unprovoked attacks on Civil Defence men and its facilities by Nigeria Police are a manifestation of long-held acrimony against the former. Police feel Civil Defence is the greatest threat to its existence. Several efforts from the Police and some police proxies, calling for the disbandment of Civil Defence, or at least its merger with the Police, have been ignored by Federal Government.

But Police seem not to be giving up on their quest to see Civil Defense is diminished to insignificance. Its recurring attacks on civil defensemen and its facilities are the progression of its onslaught to subdue and weaken its perceived arch-rival.
Except effective measures are put in place to curtail the excesses of Police brutality, and its convulsive behavior against Civil Defense, the attacks on Civil Defense personnel are most likely to intensify in the future.

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Every mild encounter of Civil Defense with Police always exacerbates to use of lethal force by the latter on its “adversary”. Civil Defense has lost some men to Police hostilities in dramatic circumstances. Top senior officers of the service are not spared. They have on several occasions had their fair share of police public embarrassment, molestations, and assaults. Policemen are haughty; they have no regard for their fellow men in other security services, whatever their status.

We recall the police’s past contempt of a Civil Defense Commandant General, and the threat to shoot him, in public glare by a policeman. It happened in Lagos. Nothing deterring came out of it. We did not hear anybody was disciplined for such wild conduct by a police Inspector. Now, policemen feel protected and could go further to disgrace anybody clad in an all-blue uniform.

On Friday, August 22, 2014, former head of Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps(NSCDC), Commandant General (Ct.Gen.) Ade Abolurin and his team were confronted by a gun taunting policeman in Ikorodu, Lagos. A Police Inspector had threatened to shoot him as he led a Federal Government Committee on Anti-Vandalism, who was on an assessment tour of disposable forfeited materials of vandalism.

Ct. Gen. Abolurin was the Chairman of the Committee. Members of the team consisted of the Army, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and Office of Attorney General of the Federation (AGF). It was suspected that some vandals lurking around the area had alerted some policemen. One of them, an inspector, threatened to fire Ct.Gen. Abolurin for coming to the exhibit site for inspection. Though a video clip confirmed the attempted shooting of Commandant General, Lagos State Police Command denied the report,
describing it as a concocted story.

In the preceding year, on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, some men of the Lagos State Command Anti-Vandalism squad had been killed, by some policemen who intercepted them as they were returning from a successful vandalism operation in Ikorodu, Lagos. The squad had apprehended some vandals and was taking them to their base when they ran into some policemen. The policemen were enraged the civil defense men violated their territory to capture vandals. They opened fire on them, resulting in two civil defense fatalities, and five severely injured. The vandals also escaped.

The latest offensive of the Police on Civil Defense happened on Monday, April 25 2022 in Owerri, the Imo State capital. Civil Defense State Headquarters, Owerri was, according to reports, invaded by three truckloads of well-armed men of Squadron 18 Mobile Police Unit The Imo State Civil Defense Commandant, Ct. Michael Ogar, was stripped down to his underpants, and thoroughly battered. At least one civil defenseman was killed, scores of others beaten and severely injured, and property destroyed.

Sources said Ct. Ogar was returning from Abacheke, Egbema, the site of the illegal oil refinery inferno, which consumed more than one hundred lives. A plain-clothed man, who was later identified as a police officer deliberately refused to give way for the Civil Defense Commandant’s convoy to exit. He heard the blaring siren; he noticed the Civil Defence motor color; he was sure a very top senior Civil Defense officer was passing by, but for his arrogance and contempt of anything civil defense he was very adamant. He impeded the Commandant’s passage. He must have felt insulted that he was cautioned for his disdain, and so he must prove to them he was a super cop. This is the usual characteristic conduct of policemen whenever they encounter fellow servicemen of other security services. He took his indignation to the gate of Imo State Command Headquarters and pulled out his service rifle before Ct. Or as he was driving into the headquarters premises.

However, Civil Defense men around overpowered him, and wrestled the rifle from his hand, to avert a grave consequence. Later, he was released, but he must have felt humiliated by “common Civil Defense”. It was not surprising he staged a comeback with men of his unit storming Imo State Civil Defense headquarters in an act of bizarre revenge.

The errant policemen forced their way into the headquarters premises, shooting sporadically. The sound of terrifying gunshots rented the air, causing mass panic, stampede, and apprehension around the neighborhood of the headquarters. As Ct. Ogar stepped out from his office to calm the situation, he was manhandled, brutalized, and stripped bare to underpants. The attack left at least one civil defenseman dead, and scores of others injured.

The two different cases described above are police audacious and brazen impunity taken too far. If Civil Defense top senior officers could be threatened, or brutalized in the public in such a contemptuous and abhor able manner, one could imagine what sordid and despicable brutal trampling awaits civil defense rank and file.

The Police must be made to understand enough is enough. The recent statement by Ct. Gen. Audi calling on officers and men of Imo State Command to remain civil in their conduct, and resist taking laws into their own hands is very commendable. However, the call should be followed up by a demand for a thorough investigation of the incident by a neutral body.

Civil Defense has been peace-loving. There is no paramilitary agency that has accused the Service of any form of brutality. It has been reputed for maintaining cordial interdepartmental relationships.

But on the contrary, Police have a very ugly record of contempt for other complementary agencies. Police high authorities cannot absolve themselves of tacit support of the aggressive posture of its men towards other sister agencies, including the military.

While Civil Defense High Command calls its officers and men to maintain the peace, it is also imperative police leadership takes decisive action to address repetitive policemen abuse and diminution of other security agencies, Civil Defense in particular. Its leadership should restrain its men from further brutal attacks on their fellow servicemen of other agencies. Civil Defence has tolerated long enough. One would not expect civil defensemen to continue tolerating these unwarranted assaults on their top senior officers, or their workmates, for too long.

The weapons in civil defense hands are also as lethal as those possessed by policemen. Civil Defense should not allow these senseless attacks and killings to continue. Police should understand no agency possesses a monopoly on violence. Restraint on the part of Civil Defense must not be mistaken for weakness.

To secure an end to police extremism, Civil Defense should demand a neutral body to conduct a thorough investigation into the recent brutal attack on Ct. Ogar and his men. Perpetrators of this odious extremism must be made to face commensurate punishment, to serve as a deterrent to others and future reoccurrence. The interagency cordial relationship is not an exclusive responsibility of one department. It is the mutual responsibility of all the agencies concerned.

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