At least 18 police officers were killed in separate attacks across Nigeria last week, continuing a trend of targeted attacks on Nigerian security officials.
The targeted killings and destruction of police facilities started several weeks ago, mostly in the South-east and South-south regions and have since continued unabated; with experts saying these could worsen the already dire security situation across the country.
The attacks in the two regions are separate from the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east. Also, as part of the general insecurity across the country, several states in Nigeria have been struggling with kidnapping for ransom, banditry, frequent clashes between farmers and herders, and inter-communal conflicts.
Due to the regular attacks on security outfits in the South-east, the governors and heads of security agencies in the five states in the region held a summit on security where they agreed to establish a joint security outfit to check the insecurity in the region.
IPOB, an outlawed secessionist group, and its security network, ESN, has been accused of being responsible for some of the attacks against the police in the South-east, but the group has denied any involvement.
PREMIUM TIMES highlights some of the attacks on security officials in the past week.
Five killed, one missing in Imo
Gunmen on Monday attacked a police station in Ehime Mbano, Okigwe South Local Government Area of Imo State.
They killed five officers while one officer is said to be missing.
The armed bandits also razed the police building, the spokesman of the Imo State Police Command, Orlando Ikeokwu, confirmed.
This comes two days after gunmen invaded the country home of the state governor, Hope Uzodinma, in Omuma, Oru East Local Government Area of the state.
During the attack, they burnt part of the building and razed some vehicles in the compound, killing at least a security official.
Imo State has suffered more attacks in the two regions than any other state.
Two police officers killed in Akwa-Ibom
A female police officer was shot dead on Tuesday by gunmen in Ika Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria’s South-south.
The police spokesperson in the state, Odiko MacDon, who confirmed the killing, identified the slain police officer as Esther Akpan, a police corporal.
She was killed alongside a police special constabulary, Isonuyo Paul.
A patrol vehicle belonging to the local police station was set ablaze by the gunmen, the police spokesperson said.
The police said they had launched an investigation into the attack.
Apart from Ika, there have been similar attacks on police and soldiers in Essien Udim Local Government Area of the state.
Nine police officers, two vigilantes killed in Kebbi
Suspected bandits attacked and killed a divisional police officer and eight other officers on Sunday in Sakaba Local Government Area of Kebbi State.
Two vigilante members were also killed by the bandits in the incident.
The police spokesperson in Kebbi, Nafi’u Abubakar, told PREMIUM TIMES that the officers responded to distress calls following the attack on Sunday night.
Inforaphic showing number of attacks on security officials in Nigeria in a week.
Mr Abubakar said the bandits launched the attack at Makuku and surrounding villages in the Sakaba council area.
Sakaba Local Government Area had witnessed attacks by bandits in Kunduru, Bajida and Rafin Gora where the gunmen reportedly rustled some livestock. It shares a boundary with the troubled Zamfara and Niger states.
Another police attack in Abia
Armed men suspected to be members of the ESN, on Wednesday, attacked a police station in Abia State.
The police confirmed the attack in a statement issued on Thursday in Umuahia, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Though there were no casualties, the police spokesperson in the state, Geoffrey Ogbonna, said the attack occurred at Nkporo Police Station in Ohafia Local Government Area of the state.
He blamed it on “common criminals” whom he said were repelled by the police operatives at the station.
He said the criminals, suspected to have been hibernating around the station, took advantage of the morning rainfall to attack the station.
“They threw an explosive at the charge room which caused damage to the counter, chairs and benches therein.
“They burnt one unserviceable police motorcycle outside, broke the wind shield of the patrol van and stole two exhibit motorcycles,” Mr Ogbonna, a superintendent of police, said in the statement
A similar attack was carried out on Uzuakoli Police Station in Bende Local Government Area of the state on April 10.
Another two in Akwa Ibom
Another two police officers were killed on Saturday by some unknown gunmen who attacked a police facility in Ikono Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
A female police officer was also injured in the attack, while five vehicles parked at the station’s premises were set ablaze, according to a statement from the Chairman of Ikono council, Nyakno Okoibu.
The statement issued by the chairman’s media aide, Nsisong Ntuk, said the attack occurred at about 3 a.m.
The statement said members of the ESN were suspected to be behind the attack.
Security Experts Speak
The attacks on police personnel will lead to an increase in crime in the country, a security analyst, Timothy Avele, said.
“It’s sad and unfortunate that security personnel are now endangered species by been killed like flies.
“First, this will result in more violent crimes like kidnapping, murder, armed robberies etc as the security personnel, especially the police, will feel less concerned to respond to distress calls from the public,” he said.
“Secondly, there will be transferred aggression from the security personnel to the citizens; no more police is your friend slogan in practice.
“On the other hand, the police not responding to distresses of the public and being cruel to citizens due to the unprovoked attacks on them could result in missing out on criminal information normally shared with them by the public,” Mr Avele stated.
Another security expert, Jonathan Mba, however, says the police should share the blame for the attacks.
He said they do not have the required training to gather information ahead of any attack. He also blamed the government for not playing its role in the training of the personnel.
“What kind of training do the police possess? What is their understanding about civil policing with regards to public relations? How well are they kitted to guarantee their safety?
“What is the level of intelligence gathered within the host community they find themselves? All these add up in helping the police understand how to repel attacks from criminals or aggrieved citizens,” he said.
Mr Mba said interactions between the police and their host communities should be encouraged.