Friday, January 20, 2012

Alhaji Kabir Sokoto's Escape: Is the Police Innocent?

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Article first published as Alhaji Kabir Sokoto's Escape: Are the Police Innocent? on Technorati.

The Nigerian state was Monday taken by surprise following the escape of a Boko Haran kingpin Alhaji Kabir Sokoto from police custody few hours after he was arrested at the Bornu Governor’s Lodge, Abuja.

According to The Vanguard Newspaper, Alhaji Kabir Sokoto who was the mastermind of the Christmas day bombing of the St. Theresa Catholic church in Madalla was arrested in his hide-out following a tip-off. After his arrest, he was said to have been handed over to Police Commissioner Zakari Biu for further investigation.

However, the suspect was said to have escaped after a group suspected to be Boko Haran members laid an ambush for the unsuspecting police team that was conveying the suspect to his operation base at Abaji for further investigation, and effected his release. While the nation was celebrating his arrest as a major milestone in solving the Boko Haran debacle, the news of his escape came as a rude shock, as it further portrayed the police as an incompetent security arm and also lent credence to the rumour making the rounds that the religious sect has infiltrated the Nigerian security outfits.

President Goodluck Jonathan has queried the Inspector General of Police (IG) Mr. Hafiz Ringim and has also ordered full scale investigation into circumstances that led to the escape of the Boko Haran kingpin. The IG has also been ordered to produce the suspect within 24 hours or face further sanction. The police commissioner, Zakari Biu, has since been placed on house arrest on the orders of the IG.

Now the questions that need to be answered include:
1. Was Alhaji Kabir Sokoto under Bornu state government protection? If not, why was he found and arrested at the Bornu state governor’s lodge?
2. Is the police truly infiltrated by Boko Haran? How did the members know that Kabir Sokoto was to be transferred to Abaji? And how did they know the exact time of his transfer?
3. Why did the police allow only four policemen to escort such a dangerous man?
4. While was no policeman hurt in the ambush since Boko Haran is known to be heartless in their attacks?

The way and manner the religious sect had coordinated attacks across the northern states of the country have actually given Nigerians cause to believe that the jobs were done by highly intelligent personnel. Besides, the inability of the security arms of government to prevent the dastardly acts or gather useful intelligence reports, or even arrest the key players have also made Nigerians to believe that both the police and the military may have been actually infiltrated by elements who were giving information to the hoodlums to carry out their criminal acts without being detected. This may have also been the reason investigations were not yielding any tangible fruits.

The police had remained helpless in the wake of the spate of bombing of churches, police posts, banks, UNO headquarters, etc. If the police has become so incompetent and cannot assure Nigerians of their safety then there is no need paying Hafiz Ringim fat salaries for doing nothing. He was there when even the car park of the Police headquarters Abuja was bombed; and several police posts have been destroyed in the northern part of the country and all he could do is to keep promising us that something would be done and that the culprits would be brought to book. There is no better time to reorganize the Nigerian security apparatuses than now.

The recent happenings in the country support the claim by Boko Haran that they were out to Islamize the country. The southerners never took them serious; but now their agenda is gradually being unveiled. Book Haran is no longer a sectarian issue but a tacit ploy by the North to Islamize the country. That they declared war on the Christians in the north and asked them to quit their region within 72 hours has invariably pitched the sect against the God of heaven, who would never keep quiet to see his children murdered in cold blood in the name of religious fanaticism.

The fact that Alhaji Kabir Sokoto was arrested at the Bornu governor’s Lodge also shows that there is more to it than meets the eyes. It is now a case of “Dog eats Dog”. The same government that has been pretending to be helpless and has been watching its citizenry murdered in their scores has also been hiding the mastermind of the massacres taking place under their nose. The truth is that mostly Christians have been victims of the attacks taking place in the north hence the financiers and sponsors of this barbaric sect have remained mute.

What is actually the offense of the southern Christians? The only offense they have committed is that they are Christians among overzealous, parochial, blood-thirsty people who have always advanced their religious course through blood shed and religious wars. The second offense they have committed is that the incumbent President is from their zone. The north has always believed that political power is their birth right and should never be ceded. Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians and everybody has the right to aspire to any political position without fear of intimidation.

Will the police ever be able to clean up its own mess? Will they ever earn the trust of Nigerians again? Should the current IG be allowed to stay in office or he should be retired? Should the presidency keep watching helplessly or there should be as a matter of urgency, a reshuffling and reorganization of the security apparatuses in the country?

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