Inspector General of Police (IG) Hafiz Ringim
By Ahamefula Ogbu
Those arrested for bombings so far are errand boys and foot soldiers of Boko Haram and not the sponsors, Inspector General of Police (IG) Hafiz Ringim has said.
He asked for the cooperation of all to get strong evidence that would lead to the arrest of the sponsors of the bombings in the country.
There were indications Thursday night that there would be an operational restructuring of the security agencies.
This is expected to see to an overhaul of the security system to give it more bite.
Ringim disclosed that but for the vigilance of the police and other security agencies which recovered several vehicles primed with explosives in Kano, Kaduna and Yobe States, the Christmas Day bombings would have been worse than what was witnessed in Niger, Yobe and Plateau States.
He was speaking to the media after an emergency meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and security chiefs.
In attendance were the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin; Chief of Army Staff,
Major-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ola Saad Ibrahim; Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Umar; Director General, State Security Services (SSS), Mr. Ita Ekpenyong; Director General of National Intelligence Agency, Mr. Olaniyi Oladeji; the National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoye Azazi (rtd.); and Ringim.
Petinrin, who initially refused to respond to a barrage of questions, later replied: “Well, you should, of course, understand that the meeting has to do with the security situation and Mr. President has taken decisive decisions. I am sure you will hear about it later.”
Azazi, who first emerged from the meeting and went back inside on sighting a battery of reporters, later came back, kept a straight face and refused to respond to any question, insisting that he would not be speaking to journalists every day.
Ringim, who took time to explain that they were now more prepared to ensure the safety of people on New Year eve, assured Nigerians that there was no cause for apprehension, though he said more had to be done to bring such threats under total control.
“So far, we have arrested hundreds of them but that is not the issue. These people, to my mind, are just the foot soldiers and we need to get strong evidence through the cooperation of members of the public so that we will be able to get to the leaders, masters and organisers of these people.
“I assure you we are doing our possible best. We are prepared more than ever before and I want to assure you that if we had not done what we did in Yobe, if we had not done what we did in Kaduna, indeed if the Nigeria Police Force had not done what we did in Kano, with the recovery of the primed-up suicide bombing vehicles, the story would have been a different one. I assure you members of the public that the Nigeria Police Force and indeed all other security agencies are now ready more than ever before to face these challenges.
“Security agencies and most importantly the Nigerian police have made a lot of gains which have not come to the fore. I want to seize this opportunity and talk to every one of us to remain resolved and resolute to join in the fight against this cankerworm that will not leave anyone of us if we do not put our act together.
“What I mean by 'acts together' is by Nigeria Police Force, security agencies and you journalists yourselves and all members of the public. This is something that should galvanise us in our quest to remain together and also to bring down the scourge,” Ringim explained.
He further stated that the number of suspects so far arrested were over 100, but said there was need for more cooperation to break new grounds in the fight against the scourge.
He denied that Christians were targeted in the attacks as the bombers would attack anybody on their way.
“Definitely, people are agitated and these Boko Haram terrorist groups are not attacking only Christians. They attack everyone that is on their way, including members of the armed forces and the police and other security agencies. From among us there are Muslims and there are Christians. I don’t think it is a case of Muslims versus Christian or Christians against Muslims. That is why I am urging each and every one of us in this country to come together to lend a hand so that we can fight this scourge. We have seen how our country has lost through the non-cooperation of the people. It is only when we come together that we can fight this scourge,” he said.