By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
Latest reports in the media indicate that insecurity on roads leading to Abuja has worsened in the last three months. Travelers are attacked at will by armed robbers and kidnappers while the families of victims pay humongous sums of money as ransom.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has condemned this ugly development. The human rights organization called on the authorities to rise to the occasion. This was contained in a statement signed by the Founder and Director of the group, Professor Ishaq Akintola. MURIC also frowned at what it described as ‘selected vigilance’, a situation in which the police concentrate on protecting only the rich and powerful while the masses are made to cater for themselves.
“Nigerians will remember that there was massive deployment of police personnel on Abuja-Kaduna road about two years ago, when Abuja Airport was receiving a facelift and senators and lawmakers had to travel by road from Kaduna to Abuja because aircrafts could not land at the Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
“Police patrol vehicles were stationed at every one kilometer from Kaduna airport onto the city of Abuja. There was no single robbery or kidnapping incident on that road as a result of this palpable presence of security agents. The interesting thing to note is that the road had been notorious before lawmakers and other important government officials were forced to ply it. But the government saw the need for vigilance on that road only when its key officials and lawmakers started using it.
“Yet the sad aspect is the fact that the massive police buildup on that axis melted like ice cream in hot sun the moment Abuja airport started functioning again and those bourgeoisie politicians stopped using Abuja-Kaduna road. Worse still, those armed robbers and kidnappers resumed their deadly operations immediately the police withdrew from the road.
“MURIC complained at the time. That was in April 2017. In our press statement dated 11th April 2017, we lamented that the ad hoc security arrangement was mere window dressing and we prognosticated that it might not last for long (http://theeagleonline.com.ng/abuja-kaduna-expressway-security-arrangement-only-for-the-rich-and-powerful-muric/).
“MURIC appreciates the challenges facing the Nigerian Police and other security agencies. Whereas the United Nations recommends at least one policeman for every 448 citizens, Nigeria is yet to meet up with this global best practice.
“We had just 310,177 policemen around 2008. Ex-president Jonathan failed to recruit a single policeman throughout his six years in office in spite of worsening security situation around the country. But President Buhari has recruited about 20,000 during his first tenure. So we may have a total figure of 330,177 policemen as at today. But with a population of 200 million people, this still falls short of global best practices.
“The way forward, therefore, is to recruit more policemen. The usual practice of attaching several policemen to public officers may also have to be discontinued. The Nigerian Police needs sophisticated weapons, state of the art communication gadgets, large number of patrol vehicles and welfare facilities to enhance its performance. We must not focus on increasing the number of policemen alone. Meanwhile the limited police population should be judiciously deployed particularly to those dangerous roads.
“In summary, MURIC calls on the Inspector General of Police to step up security measures on Abuja-Kaduna road in particular, as well as other porous roads around the country. Nigerians do not need a police regiment which protects only the rich and influential. What we need is a people’s police force that will secure the lives and properties of both the weak and the powerful”.