THE BANK ROBBERY IN KOGI STATE

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The security agencies must apprehend the culprits and bring them to justice

The audacious bank robbery that led to the killing of eight police personnel and a civilian in Isanlu, Kogi State, last week, is vile and contemptible. The commando onslaught and blood-letting that characterised the attack have also exposed the state of security in the country. On duty officers, including the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), were eliminated by the dare-devil criminals who ransacked their station before they carried out the robbery.

Aside highlighting rising insecurity in the country in different manifestations, the Kogi tragedy also brings to fore the fact that personnel of the Nigeria Police Force have become easy prey for criminals. In other climes, criminals would only attack or kill a policeman as a last resort because of the backlash. But the unprofessional conduct of most of our officers and men exposes them to such attacks. For starters, most policemen, while on duty, never seem to be combat ready. Visiting a Nigeria police station, one is likely to encounter officers sleeping behind the counter while some treat themselves to alcoholic drinks. At work, many walk around in slippers with their guns placed carelessly on the floor.

While we therefore commiserate with the families of the deceased, this tragic episode should be another wake-up call. That eight police personnel could be caught off guard and decapitated by common criminals in a single attack does not bode well for the country. The police authorities must do everything to apprehend the culprits and bring them to justice. But beyond that, there is also a need for house cleaning because this has become a recurring trend. The pertinent questions are: If policemen could be easily neutralised right in their station by a band of criminals, what then is the fate of the ordinary people? Could this be an insider job perfected by informants within its ranks in collaboration with some compromised bank officers?

Although the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu has ordered a manhunt of the perpetrators of the attack, there is need for a thorough reappraisal of security strategy around our commercial banks. The mode of operation of these criminals is predictable enough. The hoodlums have developed the habit of routinely attacking nearby police stations before unleashing brazen raids on banks wherever they operate. The erosion of trust in our police will continue to diminish for as long as robbers kill their personnel and make away with their arms before robbing commercial banks. Meanwhile, the serial raids on banks will affect the efforts towards financial inclusivity and impact negatively on the economy.

We insist that a thorough searchlight be beamed on the sources of arms of these rogue elements, some of whom have used dynamites to blow up the bank’s vault before carting away unspecified amounts of money. Perhaps most urgent is the need for the police to reappraise their modus operandi in order to safeguard lives and businesses. It should also ensure that their personnel are well-motivated and well-equipped. This is in addition to constant retraining of its workforce in modern trends in crime fighting given that the criminals are also upping their game and are having access to sophisticated arms.

There is need to firm up security patrol in our rural communities particularly those that are within the interstate borders. Much more importantly, a solution needs to be found to the incessant armed robbery attacks that have put many bank workers at great risks and clearly endanger our economy. But first, the authorities must ensure that those who executed the brazen attack on innocent citizens in Kogi State are apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law.