Hussaini Rabiu: Raising The Bar For The Police Bomb Squads

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As the nation continues to grapple with emerging security threats, the new Commissioner of Police (CP), Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Command, Lagos, CP Hussaini Rabiu, recently highlighted several uncelebrated but remarkable strides of the EOD Command during a media briefing at his Ikeja, Lagos Headquarters office. He also shared his new strategies aimed at activating optimal security as well as protection of explosives and radiological materials across the country. Ayo Arowolo and Rebecca Ejifoma who were at the briefing now report.

FOCUS
When the new Commissioner of Police (CP), Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Command, Lagos, CP Hussaini Rabiu enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force on March 3, 1990, it was in a quest to contribute his quota and protect lives and property of the compatriots then as a young officer. Today, the dynamic CP, who started then as a Cadet ASP, is the 15th commissioner leading in the detection, diffusion and protection of explosives and biological weapons just to keep the nation’s security in checks.

At his Ikeja Headquarters office on a Thursday afternoon recently, the new EOD Head warmly welcomed the media, whose overwhelming presence he applauded as partners in the fight against criminality. His receptive mannerisms perfected his passion for his police calling, as he recounted his plans, among others.

First, he recalled how EOD personnel had activated their collective intelligence to revamp the Command. In Rabiu’s words, “When I took over, we were trying to review the activities of EOD personnel in our command. Sincerely speaking, I want to tell you that I appreciate the good works that I found my men doing on assumption of duty and they had recorded several achievements before I came in.”

Thrilled at their commendable wins, the CP lauded these feats recorded before his recent posting to the EOD Command, which are evident enough that EOD personnel are up to the task in the area of protecting explosives and radiological materials in the country. “On behalf of Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, NPM, Mni, who has been magnanimous in approving several internal security and mitigating initiatives and providing facilities and equipment to the EOD Command, we really appreciate his kind gesture,” he hinted.

According to the EOD boss, a native of Niger State, the initiative has paved the way for improved strategies and policies to enhance capacity building of EOD personnel such as donation of radiological and nuclear detection system for early detection, analysis and reporting of radioactive materials out of regulatory control, emphasising: “We want all materials to be regulated and under supervision of EOD personnel.”

Now despite the increasing spread of Covid-19 pandemic and its debilitating complications, Rabiu said EOD officers are always in the forefront in fighting criminals who may likely see the outbreak as an opportunity to intensify their notorious and nefarious gigs.

He disclosed that the EOD personnel had rolled up their sleeves and made some impressive strides like recovery of 150g of Ammonium Nitrate, 250g of high explosives and three inches of detonating cord behind old government house Jos on January 7 this year.

He further recounted how his personnel recovered nine pipes containing gun powder, ball bearings and electric conductors at Presidential Road, Independent layout in Enugu on January 8 this year. These same officers, he said, intercepted three muscle loading dane guns made for export at Sahco export shed at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in January this year.

Among the list is the regaining of a rocket-propelled grenade and two pieces of anti-aircraft ammunition at Bama Sport Centre, Maiduguri Borno State on January 2, this year; one cartridge of high explosive at Uyanga Akankpa Local government of Cross River State on January 28, this year. More wins include the recovery and demolition of other explosive ordinance at Abubua Eziagu Local Government Area of Enugu State on February 5, this year; two military fragmentation hand grenades; 940 AK47 live ammunition (7.62x39mm)and 216 GPMG live ammunition(7.92 × 57mm) from one Yakubu Sule ‘m’ at Danjuma Hotel Wulari in Maiduguri on February 24, this year.

While he commended the EOD for the remarkable feats, Rabiu lent his voice to spirited Nigerians to provide information as to where these explosives are hidden to enable them to retrieve and demolish them.

He emphasised: “We have in each state command, our EOD commanders and information can be given to them. Rest assured that their identity will not be exposed; it’ll be under special confidentiality. Our phone numbers can be reached through our command PRO for any verifications and information on 08126373636. Even the PRO is doing a great job by disseminating our commanders’ telephone numbers to the public.”

In another twist, the EOD chief decried the security trend in the country. He admitted that there are a lot of problems which could not but be linked to lack of jobs and parental background where people will give birth to a lot of children and leave them to their fate.

“Definitely you will expect that they want to live up to expectations, hence, indulge into crime,” he said, adding that the aftermath of ENDSARS problem compounded criminal activities in the country.

While the EOD’s existence is of major importance to the police force, some of their tasks include detection, identification, recovery and field evacuation; rendering explosives safe; recovery and disposal by demolition, explosives that have become hazardous by deteriorating; inspection and control of commercial explosives/radioactive materials which are legally imported to ensure their compliance with import permit licences issued by the relevant authority, etc., and protection of the magazines at the explosive ordinance storage facilities.

“Our men are specialists in protecting and escorting them from the point of entry to the end-users, where they will be used. Our men are highly trained in the US, Canada, Germany and other foreign countries,” said the CP.

On interference from other agencies on performance of their duties, the EOD head succinctly chipped in that EOD personnel remain ahead of the pack. According to him, “I think there is not going to be any conflict because our men are highly trained and specialised in our area of responsibility. No other can match up our capabilities; we are always number one.”

Today, the EOD Command has an additional responsibility. “We are already moving from explosives to CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear). When you look outside,” he said, pointing towards the window, “we have about three Mobile Detection System (MDS) vans donated by the US Government in collaboration with the office of the National Security Adviser and NNRA.”

With these MDS vehicles, Rabiu is certain they would counter all radiological threats from a distance and achieve a rapid upgrade from analogue to digital operations. He added, “They are fitted with some gadgets and cameras. Already we have two at the airport terminals, one at the international airport and the other at the cargo section.”

While rating the police as one of the best organisations in the world, Rabiu disclosed with a feeling of positive pride, “If I resurrect, l will join the police again.” His reason is connected to the fact that when men sleep, the police keep watch at night. “We are under the sun and rain 24 hours; performing 24 hours’ duty despite tasking challenges. We have always been the best in the United Nations Peacekeeping operations. Go to Liberia, Haiti and all other countries where police have been drafted to, you will see our police are one of the best in training and the job,” he said.

Rabiu lamented the treatment from the public despite the responsibilities of the Police to the nation thus, “One basic issue which I want you to know is that when the police err against an individual, human rights organisations will come in, but when the police is the victim, human rights outfits and even journalists will keep silent.”

He described the hate for police officers as being extreme. “I don’t know what is happening, the hatred for the police is just so much and I believe the journalists can make the police to be a greater organisation by way of public enlightenment. Let the public be able to appreciate the police so as to encourage them to put in their best,” he appealed.

For the CP, there was need to stress the slogan that “Police is your friend”. In his words, “When there is threat to public peace or life, the police will be called upon to intervene. Is the police having two lives? Let the public appreciate the police for once.”

Having been in the Nigeria Police Force for about 31 years now, Rabiu took a swift ride down the memory lane: “During my University days, we were involved in a protest which mobile police unit officers were drafted to quell. The gallantry and smartness of these mobile officers motivated me to join the police.

“They advised us that those property items were government property, and a lot had been invested through our hard work, taxes paid and there was no need burning them down; for this would amount to burning down taxes paid for such infrastructure and we the students would be on the losing side.

“Then I became convinced the police force is the appropriate place to contribute my own quota to the nation. That was when I developed interest to join the police. It is the only place you can ensure you’re giving your own contribution to the country in terms of security and protection of life and property that is it.”

The CP was trained at the Police Academy Annex, Kaduna. He keenly joined the force on March 3, 1990 as a Cadet ASP and trained for 18 rigorous months before graduating.

According to him, “We passed out with one star. My first point of call was Delta State as a Cadet ASP. When you are a Cadet, you must undergo some practical and field training while on duty. You will go to admin office and spend three months, you’ll come to the counter where you will learn a lot of things in this job.

“You will think some of the complaints you hear at the counter are fictions; they are true life stories. From there to MTD traffic division for three months, then to CID for another three months before you will be a policeman and be assigned duties.”

Just like every other new career, ASP Rabiu arrived Warri in Delta State. “I read the crime reports on the board, I saw security challenges everywhere. I looked at my friend and asked, ‘Are we going to be able to stay here at all because of threats to even our own lives’, he said ‘let’s see’,” he recalled with a touch of nostalgia.

“Anyhow it is discussed, I want to say that I have had the best of time with the Nigeria Police,” he said with a tone of finality.