Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The committee set up by the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to assess the level of damage to police formations during the #EndSARS protest has warned hoodlums who carted away firearms from 205 police stations in 17 states to return them or face prosecution.
The committee has also raised the alarm that the looting of the weapons at the end of the year when the rate of crime is potentially high is dangerous.
Speaking to THISDAY in an exclusive interview at the weekend, the Chairman of the nine-member committee, Commissioner of Police (CP) Abutu Yaro, also urged parents to encourage their children in possession of the looted police firearms to return them.
Adamu had set up the nine-man committee to evaluate police losses during the #EndSARS protests.
Apart from Yaro, the committee has Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Atayero Patrick as vice-chairman and Adedeji Julius, a superintendent of police, as secretary.
Others are: ACP Sulaiman Gulma, ACP Samuel Dang, CSP Kehinde Ope, SP Chijioke Kalu, SP Ajibade Sunday, and DSP Mahmud Haruna as members of the committee.
The committee, which has visited police formations at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Lagos State, will visit Ogun State Police Command today.
Yaro told THISDAY that it had become imperative to alert members of the public on the need to return the looted firearms to the police, implying that those who voluntarily return the looted items immediately will be spared.
He said: “We need to alert members of the public on the need to return looted police firearms in their possession. If you see people in possession of firearms, you should report to us.
“Parents, who see their children in possession of firearms, they should have the courage to report to us because we want to recover them. If they (hoodlums) make it impossible for us to recover them, if it’s found with them at a later time or in other locations, it may have some severe consequences.
“It’s important for you to help us educate some members of the public because anybody who is part of the arms’ loot can return it incognito because if it is found with them, there will be consequences. They will face prosecution.”
According to him, the IG led the committee to inspect sites of destruction in Lagos.
He said: “The inspection of some sections of the damage was undertaken by the IG himself. On the first day, the IG was able to go to Makinde, Ebute Ero and the destroyed palace of Oba Akiolu and some other places. We continued the next day because the damage in Lagos is extensive in 36 locations. So far, we have been able to see all. It’s a frightening scenario.
“Not only buildings were destroyed, police equipment, arms and ammunition were carted away.
“Carting away arms and ammunition when the year is ending, not a normal time, but a time of potential higher criminality is dangerous.
“It’s a grave situation but we have made some recoveries.
I think we are making progress.”
He urged community leaders to assist the police to recover stolen arms.
“There are many ways of returning these things. Community leaders could also help by reporting any firearms seen anywhere. They should help because it is important to retrieve these things because it is for the safety of everybody. If they are not checked, if we Nigerians do not react collectively at the end of the day, they may move from house to house and order you to bring out all your property. We are in a Hobbesian state and we need to checkmate it before it consumes everybody,” he stated.
Abutu said the committee would visit 17 states.
The terms of reference of the committee include physical visit of the scenes of incident and capture of pictorials of all damages done to police infrastructure and personnel; verify the fatalities suffered by the police; establish the weapons holdings that were lost during the incidents, among others.