158 patrol vehicles for highways
AS a consequence of the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that soldiers should dismantle roadblocks nationwide, the Inspector General of Police Solomon Arase yesterday said it was deploying 158 patrol vehicles to fill the security vacuum.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday on telephone, Director of Defence Information (DDI), Major-General Chris Olukolade, said every military establishment would have to comply with the directive without exception.
Arase, who said this in Abuja at the one-day stakeholders consultative forum on ‘Improving police response to sexual and gender-based violence and gender main streaming,’ assured that despite military’s dismantling of roadblocks, soldiers will still be part of the internal security architecture, actively participating when the need arises.
Arase revealed: “We are set for it. I am deploying 158 additional vehicles to the Safer Highways Scheme to take over the spaces where they have just vacated. That does not mean we are not still going to have some collaboration with the military, constitutionally they are also supposed to assist us whenever we have issues, when we require their assistance, so we still have to synergize with them.”
The Special Task Force (STF) that mounted checkpoints all over Plateau State yesterday began complying by removing them, thereby easing traffic flow.
From Vom to Bukuru to the Jos metropolis, The Guardian correspondent observed that all the military checkpoints have vanished.
On Monday, President Buhari had directed that all military checkpoints should be dismantled immediately because internal security lies with the police.
Former Commander, Brigade of Guards, General Yakubu Rimdan (rtd), said that he couldn’t fault the directive.
Rimdan explained that during the military regime, there were no nationwide checkpoints except in crisis areas and trouble areas where they were introduced to check the excesses of some characters who were carrying arms and ammunition that were not supposed to be carried by civilians other than the armed forces.
He said the checkpoints were not necessary until the advent of Boko Haram insurgency, which necessitated it. “I also remember that during the Maitatsine time, we were not having roadblocks except Kano areas and part of Plateau.”
Rimdan pointed out that the worst hit in Plateau State by that presidential directive is the STF who mounted roadblocks and checkpoints everywhere in the state.
“Then they (STF) were given a presidential order to mount roadblocks and to check for those who were carrying arms and ammunition, explosives and so on and to also check for some people like Boko Haram and where they were operating and things like that. So, it was an order from the President down to the Ministry of Defence and down to the Service Chiefs. Nobody can challenge it.”
He continued: “What warranted the establishment of roadblocks was the question of Boko Haram and insurgents. Maybe the new strategy now, to my thinking, is to remove all those people there and concentrate on the Boko Haram insurgency issue within the northeastern zone.
“I think with the concentration of armed forces towards those directions where Boko Haram used to sneak in to commit havoc and put people in desperate condition, I believe they will be able to handle the issue of insurgents.”