Skip to content Skip to footer

Killing 33 people in Zaria, fleeing from insurgents by Nigerian military is shame of a nation-Tsav

By Ibrahim Usman
Former commissioner of police in Lagos state and security analysts in Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav says the ineptitude of the Nigerian military in confronting Boko Haram insurgents, while killing innocent citizens in the country is a shame of a nation.

He made the statement in an interview with BBC Hausa Service on Friday, while commenting on the insecurity in the country and the takeover of some villages and towns by the insurgents in the north-east of Nigeria.

He said, the Nigerian soldiers lack the capability and sophistication to face the Boko Haram insurgents, while they go about on shooting spree killing 33 innocent people in Zaria.

Tsav described the situation as unfortunate and shameful saying, Nigerians and the world are at loss in what is exactly happening in Nigeria.

He wondered how a faceless group could go beyond the nation’s military capability, or commit atrocities while the soldiers watch helplessly while innocent Nigerians suffer double onslaught from both the soldiers and the insurgents.

The erstwhile police boss partly attributed the failure to address the security issue to the corruption in the security circle, where the security vote is siphoned for selfish interests.

Tsav had in January, 2012 granted interview to Vanguard newspaper over similar insecurity issues. Read the interview below:

Police is our problem in Nigeria – Tsav, ex – Police boss


Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, is a retired Commissioner of Police. In this interview with Vanguard, he spoke on the ultimatum given Christians in the North by Boko Haram fundamentalists, oil subsidy removal and, corruption in the Police Force among other issues. Excerpts:

Boko Haram and its bombing activities is a phenomenon that is strange to our people, as a renowned former police commissioner what solutions would you proffer to this strange development?

For the issue of Boko Haram, I believe we have been toying with the security of this country. From time immemorial most persons charged with the security of the nation were most of the time bothered with their personal safety and security and comfort. All they care about is to make money, no loyalty to constituted authority and that is why these things happen.

More importantly there is no justice in Nigeria and corruption has eaten deep into the annals of this country. If there is justice people will not be aggrieved. If there is justice everybody will have faith in the courts. If there is justice no aggrieved person will resort to eliminating another because he knows that if he seeks justice in the courts he would get same to take care of his grievances.

Do you think that the Police is underfunded with respect its duties?

Let me tell you something, if the police man wants to work you don’t have to give him everything that he requires. A lot of state governments have donated vehicles to the police, a lot of local government chairmen have been providing money to the police to fuel their cars for patrols but sadly most of these funds go into private pockets. Let me give you an instance.

There was this DPO who was receiving N250,000 every month to fuel his vehicles for patrols, and the same DPO had one vehicle which was broken down and all he needed to fix the vehicle was N5,000, but he did not do that. He was busy collecting the monthly N250,000 for one year until his Commissioner of Police had course to visit his local government and the Chairman told him. So for one year he was collecting this money. The CP ordered him to return the money immediately. But as you know some people intervened and I don’t know what happened after that.

So the police are the once causing problems for themselves. I have evidences to prove all I have said, they are not hearsay. But when you talk to the police authorities, some of them would say you have played your own time. Our problems in this country is the Nigerian Police Force, it is not the government. If you like, give the Police the Central Bank, give the police a general assembly plant, give them all the communication outfits, they will still not perform.

And the worst thing is that senior officers do not supervise the junior officers. And the junior officers too do whatever they like. So if you send somebody on a mission in the Police force you do not supervise him. When we were in service, each time we were posted out on duty somebody comes daily to visit us before midnight and after midnight.

At all times you know that a senior officer would definitely come to visit you, so you’ll be at alert. But do you know that the people posted here to my house come in mufti, they come in mufti! So the fault is that of the police.

Look at what is happening with the case of Boko Haram. I am told that the state governments give a lot of money to the police for information gathering to enable them tackle this problem of Boko Haram. The senior officers take the money and they don’t give it to junior ones.

And some of them are anxious to see that this thing continues so that they keep on getting government money, some of them have their children in schools overseas, so they don’t care about what is happening.

So the situation is really very bad. When we were in service if you buy a vehicle without obtaining a loan from government, they investigate you. Even your life style in your house they investigate. But now people do whatever they like. Junior officer would have several cars nobody cares. They are not supervised. And some of them don’t even know what they are doing. So it is very very, very bad indeed.

Boko Haram

The Boko Haram issue has become a burning issue in the country. As a former Police Commissioner what do you think is the way out of this strange phenomenon?

If I have my way, there are some retired intelligence officers, those in the SSS, the police, those in the Military Intelligence who are still active who are willing to assist. Engage them, send them into the bush to go and get information for you. Collect the information and act on it.

But as long as we give money here and there nothing will come of it. Remember, during the Abacha, regime, we had the issue of bomb blast here and there. And each time there was a blast, they would say it’s NADECO.

There was a time when I was Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, there was this bomb blast that killed Dr. Omatsola, the Security Officer of the Murtala Mohammed Airport. My command was directly involved in the investigation. So from what happened during the investigation, I knew that the security units of this country were the ones throwing the explosives. They will throw the bomb and go and tell lies to Abacha that it was NADECO.

They will get lots of money from him in the pretext that they want to go and fight NADECO. So many of them made so much money from him. Some built houses, filling stations and the rest. But as God would have it today, some of them are even dead.

So it could be same method that these people are using, the same method. Like in the case of Omatsola for instance, my command was directly involved in the investigations. The evidence we had was that somebody telephoned Dr. Omatsola, he went out of his office and entered his car and the bomb went off and killed him. So I minuted the file that they should go to NITEL, because there was no GSM then.

I asked them to go to NITEL and find out who telephoned him, from what number and from where. We were working on this when they took the file away from us and handed it over to a unit they called anti terrorist squad.

So few days later they came to me and asked that I must go and issue a press release and indict Prof. Wole Soyinka. That it was he and NADECO that were responsible. Then I said if that was true then give me the evidence so that I can have it filed in case I make the statement and somebody raises issues with it I would be able to defend myself. They said I was disloyal. I think they telephoned Abuja and they asked another junior officer to go and do it.

So the officer went to do it and said that I must also be there. I went and sat there. And he read from the same prepared speech they gave me. But before he commenced reading the press release, I said since I was the Commissioner of Police and the man who would talk was an ACP, I should be the one to talk first.

So I gave the preamble of the case. I said clearly that the man who was asked to talk about the case knew nothing about the case, although the thing happened within his area but he knew nothing about the case.

And you know one other funny thing is that when that man was killed the police went to investigate and search his office. Eleven days after that, eleven days after the police had conducted its search and investigation another security group went to the office to search without informing the police and came out to say they found explosives.

Then I said let the person make a statement and let the people that went with him collaborate the statement and let me have it in the file, they refused. So I reported the conduct of the junior police officer who read the prepared press release that I refused to read. I reported him to the then IGP. They invited us to Abuja.

I arrived Abuja Airport as the then CP no vehicle was sent to come and pick me and I was in uniform but the said officer was in plain dress. When we got to the IG, I thought he would blast the officer, but he did not, he rather gave back to the junior officer the report I made against him. He said we should forget about it and go back to Lagos. So, these are the kinds of injustice that happen in this country!