The Nigeria Police Force has said it is reconciling its records to ascertain the number of arms missing from its armoury.
A report by the Auditor-General of the Federation for 2019 revealed that no fewer than 178,459 pieces of armaments were missing from the police armoury without any formal report of their whereabouts.
Out of this figure, 88,078 AK-47 rifles and 3,907 assorted rifles and pistols could not be accounted for as of January 2020, neither were they reported to any higher authority, the report stated.
Speaking the force spokesman, Muyiwa Adejobi, said the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, had directed the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of armoury to investigate the matter.
He noted that the force placed high premium on the issue of arms and ammunition.
Adejobi said, “The issue of arms is a very sensitive thing to us and we don’t toy with it. There are processes for checking arms according to our regulations.
“On a regular basis, the assistant commissioner of police in charge of operations of every command always checks arms.
“That number is on the high side; I don’t think we would have lost such a number of weapons. What we need to do is to reconcile our report with the one being quoted. We have our records too.
“I guess there are some arms on loan to various formations. For instance, if a certain number of arms are given to Lagos for special operations, all these movements are always documented but are complex. The IG has directed the AIG armament to come out with a report.”
Adejobi added, “This is a common thing we do internally in the police even without the effort of any external auditor, because arms are very paramount to us.
“Because of the sensitive nature of arms and handling of arms, we don’t joke with them. Again, I don’t think we have lost that large number of arms; I think that there might be some gaps somewhere that we need to juxtapose and reconcile our records. There could be some arms that are for safe-keeping.
“For instance, if some men sign for arms in Sokoto and are going for operations in Kastina; when they get to Katisna, there may the need for them to keep their arms in safe-keeping. But the original owners of the arms will just be recorded that their weapon are with someone else.
“If we don’t reconcile that account, you may say the arms are missing in Sokoto. And there are some arms that statutorily are to be signed to individuals as personal pistols.
“It is common saying that it is better for a policeman to die than to lose his arms, because of the problem that will follow.”
He said it would take a while to reconcile because of the large number of police formations and commands.
Adejobi stated, “We are taking our time to reconcile our records. We have many formations that have armouries, including training schools, and we have 37 commands.
“We need some time. We are not saying we have not lost arms; we have lost arms due to attacks; even during operations three days ago, our men were attacked and some rifles were taken away, which we are sure we will recover. We have also recovered a lot.”