US anti-narcotics bureau, Nigeria police sign agreement on Special Intervention Squad

The United States Government’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigeria Police Force concerning the operationalisation of the Special Intervention Squad.

The PUNCH reports that the Inspector General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, following his assumption of office in June 2023, declared the establishment of the SIS.

Formalising the agreement at the Force Headquarters on Monday, the IG noted that it was a joint initiative aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Nigeria Police Force to address emerging security challenges.

Egbetokun said, “We express our gratitude for the collaboration with the US Government. International partnerships, no doubt are important in addressing transnational crime and ensuring the overall safety and security of our dear country.”

Meanwhile, the NPF had earlier revealed that the deployment of 40,000 operatives of the Special Intervention Squad who are currently undergoing training, would begin with Katsina and nine other states.

The Force Headquarters also revealed that the proposed commanders that will be in charge of the squad will be trained in Mexico while noting that the deployment to the 10 carefully selected states is to pilot the activities of the SIS.

Egbetokun had earlier noted that the SIS would be a standby team of specially trained officers to quickly intervene in large insecurity occurrences, adding that it was part of the priority in his administration’s endeavour to combat the country’s threat of violent crime.

In June, The PUNCH reported that following the establishment of the 40,000-man Special Intervention Squad, IG Egbetokun announced plans to withdraw Police Mobile Force personnel from VIP escort/guard duties.

Egbetokun who spoke during a meeting with Squadron leaders and Tactical Commanders at the Force Headquarters, said the development was to allow the police to take back its place in the ‘internal security architecture’ of the country.

Meanwhile, while clarifying the misunderstanding in regards to the IG’s directive concerning the proposed withdrawal of the Police Mobile Force from specialised escort and services for VIPs, the spokesperson for the NPF, Olumuyiwa Adejobi noted that the NPF did not intend to strip VIPs (who are legally and statutorily entitled to police escorts) of their security details, noting that doing so would be unsafe and counterproductive.

He said, “Get the message right: We understand that there has been some misunderstanding regarding the directive of IG Olukayode Egbetokun about withdrawing members of the Police Mobile Force Unit from Specialised Escort and Services for VIPs. It’s crucial to provide clarifications to address this.

“First and foremost, let us be clear: at no point did the Force intend to strip VIPs (who are legally and statutorily entitled to Police escorts) of their security details. Doing so would be unsafe and counterproductive. Instead, the objective is to reassign the withdrawn PMF personnel to the recently established Special Intervention Squad.

“For those who genuinely require specialised police escorts, this vital service will continue to be provided by other units of the Force, such as the Special Protection Unit. However, individuals who do not fall within and enjoy the legal framework for such security details would strictly be screened and their applications thoroughly assessed for consideration, if necessary.

“To eliminate any misunderstandings, it’s crucial to clarify that the withdrawal of Police Mobile Force (PMF) personnel does not equate to a blanket ban on all Police Officers from providing VIP escort services. This withdrawal pertains specifically to PMF personnel, who are just one unit within the broader Police Force.

“We encourage everyone to read the full contents of our press statements rather than giving headlines whimsical meanings and spreading distorted information. For a comprehensive understanding of this matter, we strongly recommend referring to our press releases dated June 29, 2023, July 10, 2023, and July 24, 2023. These statements provide a clear and accurate perspective on this directive.”

(Punch)

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