The attacks on police facilities by criminals continued last week with at least one police officer killed and two others injured in separate incidents.
All the attacks occurred in the South-east and South-south regions, which have both witnessed multiple attacks on security officials and facilities in the past two months.
Although the volume of attacks increased last week (May 9 to 15) compared to the previous week, the casualty decreased significantly: from 16 deaths to one. A total of 18 police officers were killed in the penultimate week (April 25 to May 1).
The reduction in casualty could be a result of increased intelligence gathering by Nigerian security operatives who appear unable to prevent the attacks but ensured the casualty reduced. In at least two of the attacks on police stations last week, officials said they were forewarned about the attacks and had vacated the premises to ensure no one was killed or injured.
Apart from the attacks on police facilities, the criminals also targeted the facilities of other public institutions like the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
IPOB, an outlawed secessionist group, and its security network, ESN, has been blamed for the attacks but the group has denied any involvement.
Dozens of suspected members of the ESN have been killed or arrested as security agencies move to quell the attacks. The Nigerian Army on Thursday announced that its officials had arrested another top ESN official.
To prevent further attacks, President Muhammadu Buhari met with security chiefs last week during which new security measures were reached for the two regions. However, the new measures were not publicly disclosed.
PREMIUM TIMES highlights the reported cases of attacks on police facilities last week (May 9-15).
Ubani Market Police Station
Suspected members of the ESN on Sunday razed the Ubani Market Police station in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State.
No life was lost in the incident as policemen had relocated from the place days before the incident.
Daily Trust reported that the officers working at the station were moved to a station at the nearby TradeMoore housing estate.
Another station attacked in Abia
On the same Sunday as the Bende station attack, armed persons attacked another police station in Abia State.
John Okiyi-Kalu, the Abia commissioner for information, said the attack was on the Mike Okiro Police Station, located along the Umuahia-Uzoakoli Road, in Umuahia North Local Government Area (LGA).
He said there was no casualty from the incident because there was a security report earlier that the station could be attacked. He said the police officers at the station were relocated from there three weeks earlier.
Mr Okiyi-Kalu said the Abia State Government condemns the attack.
Attack in Akwa-Ibom
Gunmen on Sunday attacked another police station in Akwa Ibom State, less than 24 hours after the killing of five police officers and a wife to one of the officers in a similar attack in the state.
A police officer said the attack occurred on Sunday afternoon at a local police station in Abak Local Government Area of the state.
While no life was lost in the attack, some vehicles were set ablaze by the gunmen, according to photographs of the attack posted on Facebook.
Police officer killed in Akwa Ibom
The police spokesman in Uyo, Odiko MacDon, identified the slain police officer as Edogi Bassey, a police constable.
The officer was said to have been killed while repelling an attack on a police facility.
“At about 6:30 a.m. today, armed men, in their numbers, armed with AK 47 Rifles and other dangerous weapons, in two vehicles attacked the rented building housing the Etim Ekpo Area Command and Division,” Mr MacDon said in the statement.
“The undaunted and vigilant police officers on duty, gallantly fought back, repelled them and averted the intended carnage.
“Unfortunately, a dedicated officer, one PC Edogi Bassey paid the supreme price while a small portion of the building was torched.”
According to Mr MacDon, the gunmen proceeded to another local government area – Ika Local Government Area – to attack a police division there, but were repelled again by the officers at the station.
NDLEA Office Attacked
The State Commandant of the agency, Bamidele Akingbade, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umuahia that the attack took place at about 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
Mr Akingbade blamed the attack on hoodlums, adding that only a section of the office complex was set ablaze.
He said that the assailants’ intention was to free the suspects who were detained in the facility.
“However, the suspects were relocated out of the facility, in the wake of Monday’s attack on the nearby office of the Independent National Electoral Commission,” he said.
He said the agency recorded no casualties and their weapons were intact, adding that important official documents were stored in a fire-proof safe.
Another attack in Bende
Suspected members of ESN, numbering at least 100, on Wednesday, attacked a local police station in Abia State, Nigeria’s South-east, leaving two operatives with gunshot wounds.
The attack occurred at Bende Divisional Police Station.
The station was set ablaze by the gunmen.
A resident of the area said they heard gunshots around 10.45 p.m. and when they rushed outside, they saw the station on fire.
“At that point, it dawned on us that the station was under attack so everybody began to scamper for safety,” the witness said.
The police spokesperson in the state, Godfrey Ogbonna, confirmed the attack to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday.
Mr Ogbonna, a superintendent of police, said two operatives were shot in the leg and that the attackers also burnt down the generator house and a multi-purpose building belonging to Bende Local Government Council.
He said the hoodlums later released criminal suspects who were detained at the station.
A security analyst, Timothy Avele, had told PREMIUM TIMES that the attacks on police officers could lead to a higher crime rate across the country which is still battling with other cases of insecurity like kidnappings and terrorism.
“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.
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