“All of them are at the roundabout with their baggage. They said they don’t have any business fighting Boko Haram; they said they were going to their village.”
Molly Kilete, Abuja
At least 200 operatives of the Police Mobile Force (PMF), otherwise known as MOPOL, undergoing training at the Special Forces School (SFS), Buni-Yadi, Yobe State, have disappeared into thin air for fear of being killed by Boko Haram terrorists. They left Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, on Sunday, December 23, at exactly 2pm on the grounds that they did not want to die like soldiers.
Daily Sun gathered that the policemen made up their minds to abandon the operations after the military authorities running the school announced to them that they were changing their uniforms from the MOPOL colours to woodland camouflage, the official uniform for personnel engaged in the counterterrorism war.
It was gathered that the policemen became terribly afraid upon the news and made up their minds to abscond. The MOPOL personnel were said to be among the 2,000 officers deployed on December 2, to join in the ongoing counter-insurgency war in the North East.
A senior police officer in Yobe told our reporter on telephone: “I am calling to inform you that those MOPOL personnel who were trained at Special Forces School, Buni-Yadi, when they were told that they would be deployed to Maiduguri and Yobe here after their training, said they were not going anywhere.
“They said they were going home. As I am speaking to you now, they are all at the junction saying they are going back to their villages and all of them are armed with their rifles. They said they would not go to Maiduguri because they were not soldiers and that they would not allow anybody to take them to places where they would go and die for nothing.
“All of them are at the roundabout here in Yobe with their baggage. They said they don’t have any business with fighting Boko Haram; they said they were going to their village.
“If I had my way now, I would have taken their photographs and sent to you through WhatsApp but, unfortunately, I cannot. If you see them their eyes are so very red that they may attack anybody who tries to take their pictures.
“I was even asking one of my tribesmen what he was going to do with the rifle since it was a service rifle, and he told me that was none of his business. He said that he was going with it to his village.
“There was one officer I served together with in Potiskum, that I was chatting with, and he got angry when I tried to persuade him to stay, and he refused to talk to me again. He said I wanted him to go and die.
“I am surprised, because what they told me was that they had been briefed that they were gong to be deployed within the metropolis and take the soldiers into the bush. They were thinking that they would remain in Maiduguri town; they are not serious.
“Some of those places that we have cleared, are they not supposed to have taken over those places? They want us to be doing everything, what is their own work?”
Meanwhile, the police force headquarters has denied media report that 167 personnel deployed to the North East to join in counter-insurgency operations have absconded. It described the list of 167 names attached to the report as fake, saying all the 2,000 additional police personnel are on ground in the North East.
Force public relations officer, Jimoh Moshood, who made this known in a statement, said: “The force wishes to categorically state that the story is untrue, absolute falsehood and a deliberate attempt to cast aspersions on the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force in the ongoing fight against the Boko Haram insurgency.
“The insinuation in some quarters and as reported in the story that 167 out the 2,000 additional police officers recently deployed by the IGP absconded is not correct and should be disregarded by members of the public. These 2,000 police personnel are to complement the efforts of the military to add new impetus to the fight against the decimated Boko Haram insurgency.
“This story was investigated and it was found out not to be correct.
However, the Nigerian military has offered a clear explanation on a news report that over 150 among the 2000 policemen deployed to fight Boko Haram insurgents in the North East, absconded from their counterinsurgency military training exercise.
Brigadier-General A. S. Ishaq, the Coordinator Nigeria Police Force for Operation Lafiya-Dole (NPFOLD), in a chat with PRNigeria, said there was nothing like policemen absconded, but just a case of some recalcitrant personnel leaving their training base for a reason which was not cogent.
“The policemen didn’t abscond as alleged in media reports. What happened was that some of the police officers insisted on going for the Christmas holiday. But in line with standard military operations, there was no way officers undergoing special training on a combat operation, could leave their base when the training exercise has not rounded up.
“So, we refused to grant them permission. However, the unruly ones among them left our Special Forces School at Buni-Yudi, venue of the training. But thank God, the unruly personnel were tracked at Damaturu, the state’s capital. Right now, some of them have been brought back to the School,” he said.