News / Africa

Fired Nigeria Police Chief A ‘Sacrificial Lamb’ Says Analyst

A child stands on a burnt out police truck following an overnight attack at Sheka police station in Kano, Nigeria Jan. 25, 2012.
A child stands on a burnt out police truck following an overnight attack at Sheka police station in Kano, Nigeria Jan. 25, 2012.

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  • Clottey interview with Major (retired) Yahya Shunku, a Nigerian security analyst

Peter Clottey

A security analyst says dismissed police chief General Hariz Ringim is not to blame for the failure of Nigeria’s security agencies to curb the violence perpetrated by the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram.

Major (retired) Yahya Shunku says the replaced head of police was sacrificed over what he describes as the “porous” ability of the State Security Service (SSS) to identify and combat the threat and violence of the radical sect.

“One may not be wrong to say they are sacrificial lambs because of the [inability] of the State Security Services to detect and prevent crimes against the internal security of Nigeria. It is not the responsibility of the Nigerian police,” said Shunku. “[Since] Boko Haram and other organizations started planting bombs here and there, we have never had the SSS detect or prevent any of such occurrences.”

President Goodluck Jonathan dismissed Ringim and retired all of his deputies after naming assistant Inspector-General Mohammed Abubakar as the country's new police chief.

The move, the administration says, is to revamp the entire police force to enable it to deal with emerging internal security challenges. But Major (retired) Shunku said the dismissal of the former inspector general of police is a face-saving gesture by the government after coming under pressure to tackle growing security challenges.

He said the police chief may have been fired following pressure on the government to rein in escalating violence.

“He might have been fired [because of the] escape from police custody of [the main suspect] of Boko Haram.”

President Goodluck Jonathan gave Hafiz Ringhim an ultimatum to re-arrest the alleged mastermind of the bombing of a Catholic church on Christmas Day, or lose his job.

The suspect Kabiru Sokoto was being escorted to a police station outside Abuja on January 18 when members of his gang attacked and freed him. The police commissioner who ordered the transfer was suspended.

Some analysts say the escape of the suspect was an embarrassment to the administration as well as the entire security agencies. But Major (retired) Shunku singled out the SSS for blame.

“It’s not good enough to sack the inspector general of police and his deputies, while leaving those that are directly responsible for detecting and preventing the crimes committed by [Boko Haram],” said  Shunku.

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