Former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sir Mike Okiro has said that the insecurity challenges confronting the country would have been nipped in the bud if his idea of creating Anti-Terrorism Squad unit in the Police was embraced and funded by the government.
Okiro, who also served as Chairman of Police Service Commission (PSC) lamented what he described as lack of adequate funding for the Nigeria Police.
Okiro spoke in Abuja while responding to the controversy over massive deployment of police personnel and other security operatives to Anambra State for the governorship election holding in less than 48 hours.
Speaking in an interview with News Express, Okiro expresses sadness over the spate of insecurity in Nigeria saying: “I am a Nigerian. I am not happy about insecurity in this country.”
But asked if he thinks there is something missing in the security strategies adopted by the federal government as to why insecurity remains high-escalating rather than reduce.
He said; “The only missing link I can talk about is lack of funding, lack of equipment, lack of technical know- how. You see we are in a modern society. The police is no longer the police of 1940s, 50s and 60s in Nigeria. When we were young we used to see policemen riding bicycle, carrying batten. But it is not so now, police have to move in fast vehicles well -armed with good gadgets, good communications gadgets to be ahead of the criminal himself. If the police is not well funded, not well equipped that is the missing link. They cannot achieve anything. And the terrorists, bandits, insurgents and criminals go to the internet, they use communications gadgets and they are far ahead. They use fast vehicles and sophisticated firearms so police must use something more than them to be able to ahead of them. That is the missing link”.
On the mass deployment of police operative for the Anambra Election and fears that it may led to voter apathy. He said “What I am saying is that the police will do their job. And the police do not vote in an election”.
He continues: They are there to provide security and ensure that people who have come out to vote are given protection. But that doesn’t mean they will force somebody to come out and vote. If you are at home police cannot come to your house and carry you to come out and vote. What police can do is to provide adequate security for everybody who wants to come out and vote. So I think from what I heard of the number of personnel deployed by the IG, anybody who wants to come and vote should not have fear. They have enough protection to come and vote. They cannot be used to favour any party. By the nature of the police job, we are trained to be fair,just and protect the territorial integrity of this country, Nigeria. So we are trained to protect the Constitution and the laws of this country. So if the police do anything that is unlawful it is againstthe law. They cannot abuse the laws they are protecting”.
Responding to another question if he believes that the police will be neutral in the election? Okiro said “Of course I believe that. And they know it that they should be neutral.
On his regrets: “I have regrets of course. I am a Nigerian. An idea that I brought was botched because somebody said I was bringing anti-squad police in Nigeria. And that there is no terrorism in Nigeria. Where are we now. If after I have left the office as a retired IG and other IGs after me had continued from where I stopped and the governments had listened to them insecurity would have been nipped in the bud. I am sad about it. I am a Nigerian. I am not happy about insecurity in this country”.