By Kingsley Nwezeh
The police said yesterday that the claim that 12 police officers, heading to Zamfara State from Borno State on an official assignment, were abducted by gunmen is being verified.
The officers, of the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), were said to be on their way to Zamfara to conduct a special operation when the kidnappers waylaid them.
The kidnappers were said to have demanded a N10 million ransom.
But the Force Headquarters has told THISDAY that it is making efforts to verify the kidnap claim while the Borno State Police Command denied that any officer was missing from the command.
A BBC report said the abduction took place 12 days ago but came to light yesterday.
A wife of one of the kidnapped officers said she did not hear from her husband for three days and decided to seek further information from a police barracks in Borno where she learnt about the abduction.
She was quoted as saying that her husband later called and asked her to raise ransom money by selling their home.
“He called me on Wednesday and told me that he was in the hands of the kidnappers,” she said.
She stated that her husband told her that if she failed to raise at least N1 million, “there will be trouble.”
She added that a police officer subsequently called her to request that she should raise N800, 000 for his release.
“I can’t tell you that I have any other information. We are in a state of frustration,” she said.
But the Force Headquarters said it is verifying the kidnap claim.
“We are aware but we are trying to verify that the kidnap took place,” Deputy Force Public Relations Officer and Chief Superintendent of Police, Mr Aremu Adeniran, said.
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, yesterday said he remained in firm control of the administration and operations of Nigeria Police Force.
The IG was responding to the position of Maj. Gen. Wahab Garba (rtd.), who, in a media interview, said the IG was not in control of the police.
A statement by Force Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Frank Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), faulted the assertion of the retired general.
It said: “The Force wishes to categorically state that the retired Major General is wrong in his assertion as IGP Adamu is firmly in control of the administration and operation of the Nigeria Police Force.
“It notes that the comments by Rtd Major General Garba Wahab show that he spoke purely out of ignorance and from a jackboot mentality that lacks proper understanding of democratic policing culture, rooted in the rule of law.”
The police said Wahab spoke on a subject outside his area of core competence.
“It is noteworthy that since his assumption of office as the 20th indigenous Inspector-General of Police, IGP M.A Adamu, a global policing icon, has in the past twenty-three months of his leadership of the force shown sterling qualities in what the operational/administrative command and control of the Force should be.
“This is exemplified in the various reform policies being implemented to reposition the force for greater efficiency, uphold the rule of law in policing actions and drive a citizen-centred policing approach.
“It is to the credit of his robust leadership style that even in the face of the recent violence occasioned by the #EndSARS protest and provocative attacks on police personnel and assets, the officers under his command exercised maximum restraint and stayed calm, professional and committed to maintaining law and order in the country.”
It enjoined the general public and privileged opinion moulders not to allow sentiments becloud their sense of judgment but to use opportunities of national platforms to offer constructive criticisms and advocate opinions that will help in improving governance generally and policing in particular in the country.
The police urged Wahab to fact-check his assumptions before going public.