This week, social media was awash with stories of Borno State House of Assembly honouring Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Ibrahim Mohammed, former commander of the disbanded Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force, in its hallowed chambers. According to the Deputy Speaker of Borno State House of Assembly, Right Honourable Abdullahi Askira, CSP Ibrahim Mohammed was honoured because of his gallantry and bravery exhibited in fighting Boko Haram terrorists, banditry, kidnapping and other crimes in Borno State.
There is no doubt that honouring security operatives like him is indeed a welcome development . However, there are so many things wrong with this gesture by the Borno State lawmakers and not far from a leprosy finger wearing a golden ring. It could have been understood and forgivable if this transpired in any other state than Borno State, which has been the epicentre of the most worrisome security challenge in this country for over a decade now. Prior to the coming of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, no fewer than 20 local government areas of the state were firmly under the control of Boko Haram terrorists. The insurgency had reached such an unprecedented level that they declared an Islamic Caliphate in the state with headquarters in Gwoza, the headquarters of Gwoza Local Government Area of the state. However, with the concerted efforts of the Nigerian military, that has become history, as no part of Nigerian territory is being held by the terrorists.
In addition, hardly a week would pass without terrorists attacks or suicide bombings in various parts of the state including almost all parts of Maiduguri metropolis. The military and other security agencies nipped all that in the bud. Today, except for the fringes of Lake Chad and far northern parts of the state, we hardly hear of the terrorists activities. Life is gradually getting back to normal to the point that the State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum is making efforts to return most of the internally displaced persons to their various ancestral homes. This could not have been possible without the sweat and blood of the Nigerian military, other security agencies and the gallant youths of the state that serve as Civilian JTF. The number of officers, soldiers, ratings and airmen and women of the armed forces of Nigeria that paid the supreme prices were many. Similarly the police, other security agencies and the Civilian JTF.
Therefore, it beats one’s imagination to read that the Borno State House of Assembly at this most trying moment is singling out a Chief Superintendent of Police for a honour that has never been bestowed on anyone all these past years despite acts of gallantry and sacrifices often with their lives.
First, if I may ask what criterion did the House of Assembly use in deeming CSP Mohammed Ibrahim with this honour? Was he in the state to fight armed robbery or fight terrorism and insurgency? What happened to the Counterterrorism unit (CTU) deployed in the state all this while and the state police command? I suspect that this honour was part of the desperate moves to counter the growing protests all over the country against the same establishment CSP Mohammed Ibrahim headed in Borno State.
Please do not get me wrong, I really appreciate the courage and bravery of CSP Mohammed Ibrahim and congratulate him. But I question the motive and wisdom of the Borno State House of Assembly in giving him the award at this point of our national history when the institution he commanded has been condemned and disbanded by the very establishment that set it up for its notoriety. I recalled when the former State Governor, Kashim Shettima chided the state commissioner of police preferring with then state commander of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, talk-less of SARS.
Honestly, I must say that I am the least surprised given the quality of legislation in some state houses of Assembly, Borno State inclusive which has not been noted for anything positive that would impact positively on the people let along assist in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in the state. They are reflecting the general attitude of the state government and elites and unjustified hostility against the very people that liberated and saved them from the menace of Boko Haram terrorists. It is really curious that the state assembly did not appreciate the sacrifices of those gallant and brave officers of the Nigerian military that paid the supreme price in the course of this decade old war.
I believe the act was a deliberate attempt to further denigrate the Nigerian military and other security agencies especially the Nigerian Army. Someone should tell them that their act is in a bad faith and capable of demoralising the military and other security agencies making sacrifices.
In any case, Nigerians saw this coming when Hamza Suleiman, a NAN corespondent in the state (wrote) an article eulogising the honoured CSP Mohammed Ibrahim and the SARS under his command in the state. In it he went to ridiculous extent to ascribe credit to the SARS on matters that were disputed by the military. This include the alleged encounter with terrorists at Jakana recovering non-existent armoured fighting vehicles and other equipment.
It is dangerous to play politics with security issues. The Borno State House of Assembly should focus more on assisting the security forces more than this needless distractions. The honour to CSP Mohammed Ibrahim was in a bad taste coming at a time that the unit he commanded is widely discredited and disbanded. They are making a mockery of the hallowed chambers and the legislative arms generally.
Alexander Mayo wrote from Kaduna. He can be reached on his Twitter handle @alexma