State police commissioners have said they lack adequate manpower and equipment to prevent kidnapping from taking place in all schools across the country.
Noting that they needed advanced equipment and more personnel, some of the police commissioners expressed panic that they might not be able to ward off kidnappers should they strike in their states.
In recent times, there has been an increasing rate of kidnapping of pupils for ransom in schools, notably in Lagos and Ogun states.
The most recent case of pupils’ abduction was that of six students of the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe.
The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of N100m for each of the pupils from their parents before they would release them.
The Commissioner of Police, Ondo State Command Mrs. Hilda Harrison, said the state police command lacked sufficient personnel and equipment to fight crime in the state.
According to findings, there are about 5,000 police officers and 1,070 public primary and secondary schools in the state.
Harrison, who urged the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to provide the state with enough personnel, said this during a visit of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the South-West, Mr. Foluso Adebanjo, to the command during the week.
Likewise, a top senior officer who spoke on condition of anonymity,our source told that due to the insufficiency of manpower, there was no way the command could adequately prevent kidnapping from happening in the over 1,000 public and thousands of private schools in the state.
“As a matter of fact, we don’t pray to experience what is happening in Lagos and Ogun states because our command simply lacks the capacity to stop kidnappers from entering the schools in this state in terms of logistics and manpower,” he said.
The source, however, said the state police command, led by Harrison, had been meeting with heads of schools in the state, while patrol teams had also been increased during school hours.
In Katsina State, the police commissioner, Ahmed Abdullahi, said the state had a deficit of 3,030 personnel.
Meanwhile, in the state, there are 1,276,893 and 219,531 pupils in the public primary and secondary schools respectively.
Abdullahi, while hosting the Deputy Inspector -General of Police in charge of logistics and supply, Maigari Dikko, said, “The command has a shortfall of 3,030 personnel and needs three more Armoured Personnel Carriers. Also, the command presently has three area commands. We are requesting for additional two at Dutsinma and Malumfashi.”
A top police officer in the Enugu State Police Command, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the command did not have the capacity to protect all schools and pupils against kidnappers.
Stating that the command was understaffed, and ill-equipped, the source said, “At the moment, we don’t have the capacity to protect all the schools and pupils in the state. The police force is actually understaffed, contrary to what many people think.
“We don’t want to wait for kidnappers to strike first. Unfortunately, we don’t have the capacity to stop kidnapping in all the schools at the moment, so there is an urgent need for the Federal Government to equip us.”
The Commissioner of Police, in Adamawa State, Moses Ambakina Jitobo, also said the state command was unable to prevent kidnapping of pupils in the state as it lacked adequate personnel and equipment.
Jitobo said this during the week through the spokesperson of the state police command, Othman Abubakar, at a meeting with heads of secondary schools and tertiary institutions in the state.
However, the police commissioner said the command had been seeking collaboration with other security agencies in the state.
“We are collaborating with the Department of State Services, the Army and all other sister security agencies because the police alone cannot contain the rising spate of kidnappings happening in Borno State and elsewhere,” he said.
In Kwara State, there are 2,310 public schools and 442,151 pupils, according to the state Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Babatunde Ajeigbe. Mea nwhile, there are about 3,000 men in the state police command, according to findings.
Asked whether the police could protect all schools and kidnappers, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olusola Amore, said the police were not the only people providing security in the state, suggesting that the command lacks enough manpower to tackle the crime.
“Security is not provided by the police alone. There is a way we are protecting all the schools and none of them has complained of any security lapse yet,” Amore said.
A senior officer in the Bauchi State Police Command, who spoke to Saturday PUNCH on the condition of anonymity, said it was not possible that the command, with only 4,000 men, would be able to protect all schools and pupils in the state from kidnappers.
The source said, “It is as a result of this that the Commissioner of Police, Garba Umar, has directed all Divisional Police Officers to meet with all schools in their domains to discuss and take proactive steps in securing the schools.
“He directed them to ensure that schools have perimeter fences and advised them to monitor the movement of people around their surroundings and report any suspicious movement to the police.”
Although the Commissioner of Police in Osun State Command, Mr. Fimihan Adeoye, told one of our correspondents that the state had enough men to protect pupils from being kidnapped, a source in the command said it wasn’t true.
“There is only one police station in each town in the state except Osogbo, which has six and towns like Ilesa, Ile-Ife, Ede, which have two. So it’s not possible to say we have all it takes to effectively protect schools and students,” the source said.
“However, we are trying our best with what we have. The CP came up with a plan of engaging the people more and it has been working for us. We rely on the people to assist us with useful information to prevent crimes and it is a good one. The crime rate in Osun is very low compared to other states.”
An Assistant Superintendent of Police in the Plateau State Police Command, Tyopev Terna, said the command had embarked on a sensitisation campaign on preventing kidnapping in schools, adding that it had also partnered with other security agencies.
“When we heard of the cases of abduction of pupils in Lagos and Abuja, we first of all decided to call the proprietors and proprietresses of all the private schools in Plateau State. We shared our emergency telephone numbers, in case there is any distress or need for any other assistance. We also told them the necessary steps to forestall any kidnapping incident.
“We have sensitised the people of Plateau State to the point that they are aware that security is everybody’s business and where our eyes cannot take us to, that is where they will come in. We are seriously synergising with other security organisations in the state, including the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, the Neighbourhood Watch and the Armed Forces.”
A similar strategy is being adopted in Akwa Ibom State, according to the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Donald Awunah, who said it was not possible to protect all the schools in the state.
He said, “As it is not possible to give protection to thousands of schools in the state or all students, we have devised a scheme called the ‘Safer School Initiative,’ whereby we have partnered school heads and the Ministry of Education to ensure our schools are safe.
“We don’t want what’s happening in Lagos and Ogun states to happen here. So, we are doing a lot of advocacy and enlightenment in the schools, churches and even at homes.”
The lack of adequate manpower and equipment to combat kidnapping was recently brought to the fore by the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who called for a national security summit to deal with the situation and other criminal acts like robbery and herdsmen killings.
Speaking at a two-day National Security Summit in Abuja on May 11, 2017, Idris said the Nigeria Police Force required additional 155,000 personnel to adequately provide security for the country.
In the same vein, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the North Central Zone, Mr. Shuaib Gambo, said in Ilorin, Kwara State, recently that there had been an increasing demand from many state governors for more policemen to be posted to their states in order to beef up security.
However, Gambo said it was impossible to grant the request as the Force lacked adequate personnel.