The Nigeria Police Force is partly incapacitated in combatting national insecurity, as their tracking equipment vital for the apprehension of suspected criminals has not been functional since January 2021.
According to PUNCH, at least 2,943 people have been kidnapped across Nigeria between January and June. Most of the abductions have happened in the North while the failure of the tracking devices is due to the inability to renew subscriptions, carry out system upgrades, among other challenges.
Research by Nigeria Security Tracker revealed that June recorded the highest number of abductions at 1,344, followed by February which had 709 cases.
On several occasions, kidnappers demand ransoms in exchange for the release of their hostages and this is often done through telephone communication. While states and federal governments frown against payment of ransom, tracking devices could be used to detect locations where phone calls are initiated.
After the tracking devices, which were given to the Police during the tenure of Solomon Arase as the Inspector-General of Police, became non-functional, top police officers said the Force sometimes approach the Office of the National Security Adviser when they need to track bandits.
“The equipment was given to us by President Muhammadu Buhari. The thing has not been working because those who are supposed to ensure that it runs well have not played their part,” a source was quoted as saying.
“From what I gathered, subscription fees are meant to be paid yearly but you won’t believe that the Police have not paid since 2015. Initially, the company gave us a grace period but they have now cut off the Police completely.
“We now rely solely on DSS and NSA office. It’s a terrible situation and it has worsened the insecurity in the country. The Police Trust Fund promised to help but we have not seen any action yet.”
A police chief however said: “You know this thing is technology just like a computer so we do upgrades from time to time. A lot of people on the field don’t even understand how it works. It is undergoing an upgrade because you have new features coming in from time to time. There are new technologies that you have to update to enhance their capacity.
“We have some new equipment which we need to adjust so they can link together. Some are still working. It is not as if all components are shut. That is what is happening.”
FIJ’s calls to the mobile line of Frank Mba, the police spokesman, didn’t connect while the text message to his number was yet to be replied to over this report as of press time.
On a number of occasions, FIJ has reported how the inability of the Police to track crime suspects inhibit their investigations and subsequently evade justice. For example, in May, the Police at the Nasarawa Gwong Division in Plateau State demanded a fee of N25,000 on behalf of their ‘tracking contractor’ in order to investigate the gruesome murder of the teenage Comfort Benjamin, but nothing was done.
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