The general insecurity in the country has, once again, been exposed by the recent heinous robbery attacks on five banks in Offa, Kwara State. The April 5 robbery left 17 people dead and scores of others seriously wounded. But eyewitness account said that the casualty figure could even be higher than the official figure. The victims, according to the State Commissioner of Police, Lawan Ado, included nine police officers and eight civilians.
The heavily armed robbers carted away millions of naira in the robbery attack that lasted for over an hour without any challenge from security agents. The robbers reportedly came in a convoy of about ten vehicles, which were loaded with explosives and other dangerous weapons used in the attacks.
The police authorities said that 20 suspects were arrested in connection with the robbery incident. The suspects were arrested in Lagos, Ibadan and Offa. According to the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, items recovered from the suspects included phones, iPad SIM cards and sundry weapons.
We condemn the dastardly robbery attacks in Offa and call on the Nigeria Police to rise to the challenge and arrest the rising cases of armed robbery in the country.
Since the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had ordered a full-scale investigation into the sad incident, we urge the police to move in immediately and apprehend and prosecute all those involved in the criminality.
It is a welcome development that the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has assured of the commitment of the senate to initiate a template that will address insecurity, insufficient funding, inadequate personnel and the structure of the police. It is also our position that the Nigeria Police should be adequately equipped to be in a better position to confront the rising crime in the country.
It is not in doubt that the police need armoured personnel vehicles, bulletproof vests and high caliber rifles to withstand the rampaging daredevil criminals that operate with heavy machine guns and grenades. For more effective and efficient policing of the country, the government should consider establishing the state policing system without further delay.
We say this because the current centralised policing seems not to be working well for the country. Besides, the police must beef up their intelligence gathering and share intelligence with sister security organisations. The government should stop the proliferation of firearms in the country by mopping up existing ones.
The punishment for illegal possession of firearms should be made more stringent to prevent such arms from getting into wrong hands. Without doubt, the Offa bank robbery incident will go down as one of the worst in recent times. It was one robbery operation that looked every inch like a terror attack.
It is lamentable that there has been an upsurge in bank robberies in the country and they threaten the activities of commercial banks. There is, therefore, need to set up anti-robbery control units in all the banks as part of measures to curb the menace.
Altogether, all hands should be on deck to check the attacks on banks. The Federal Government should look into the problems facing our police force. There is urgent need to increase the numerical strength of Nigeria Police. The current police strength of below 400,000 personnel is grossly inadequate to ensure the security of over 150 million Nigerians.
Above all, the Nigeria police should be adequately remunerated insured, and fully mobilised to confront criminals. We commiserate with all those who lost their loved ones in the robbery attacks and wish the wounded speedy recovery.