Nigerians vandalising businesses belonging to South Africans in retaliation for xenophobic attacks in that country are criminals and unpatriotic, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has said.
Mr Adamu said all suspects arrested in connection with the spate of retaliatory attacks will be prosecuted.
Mr Adamu gave the warning on Thursday at a security stakeholders’ meeting in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.
He said those attacking foreign businesses were violating extant laws and are “criminals and unpatriotic citizens.”
He said about 36 suspects had been arrested so far over alleged vandalism and would be prosecuted.
The police had earlier said it arrested over 120 suspects as the attacks intensified across the nation in cities such as Oyo, Abuja, Akwa Ibom and Lagos.
Mr Adamu said Nigeria is a country governed by laws, noting that the arrest of the suspects was lawful and justifiable.
He also said this was done to portray Nigerians as law-abiding citizens before the global community.
“The arrest showed that Nigeria is a country that has laws and it shows that we can never behave the way others behaved,” he said.
“No individual is allowed to take laws into his hands. The federal government is dealing with the issue of killings and attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
“The fact that Nigerians are being attacked over there shouldn’t be a reason for anybody to attack the businesses of South African nationals.
“Those who did that are unpatriotic and they are criminals and that was why we arrested some of them and we will prosecute them.”
Police structure ‘redesigned’
Mr Adamu added that the country’s policing system had been redesigned to be community-based “so that all Nigerians could see the issue of security as their responsibility”.
“Our strategy for policing has changed. The communities are now working with us and we are going to ensure that all the communities are represented whether you are traditional rulers or you belong to any socio-cultural group,” he said.
“We are going to train people from each community who will have the ‘power of the police’ and power to arrest.
“They will be deployed to help the police in fighting crimes. When it comes to recruitment, we will come to your communities.”
He said the change of strategy and partnership with traditional rulers was to stem the tide of kidnapping and cultism in the South-west, which has been ravaged by crime in recent months.
“Traditional rulers and the state governors must show commitment and we are ready to do anything to mitigate the security problems,” he said.
“We believe that if we all work together by way of rubbing minds and share ideas, our society will be free of crimes.”
The IGP added that the government was seriously concerned about the welfare of the officers.
“We believe no officer should die in the course of fighting crimes,” Mr Adamu said.
“To this end, body armour have been procured to protect us while confronting the evildoers. If you kill one police officer, the government has lost the money spent to train such man.”
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State police commissioner, Asuquo Amba, said the police have been able to reduce crimes in Ekiti.
He said his command “had also maintained robust and smooth collaboration with other sister agencies to maintain the security of lives and property”.
The Chairman of the Ekiti State Traditional Rulers and the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Adebanji Alabi, commended the IGP and promised that the body would support the police to make Ekiti safer.