In a bid to support Nigeria’s efforts in its ongoing war against insurgency perpetrated by Boko Haram and its splinter group, Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP, in the north east, the United States Embassy, Abuja, has donated to the Nigerian Police Force, equipment worth $325,000.
The equipment donated by the U.S. include bulletproof vests, bulletproof helmets, goggles and 20 ballistic shields, a tent, mosquito nets, first-aid boxes, hygiene products, heavy-duty flashlights and foldable mattresses, to the 500 officers of the Police Mobile Force (PMF) serving in Borno state where the insurgents have a strong hold.
The situation in Borno State has worsened significantly in the past few months with tens of thousands being sent to their graves in gruesome murders. The state which is the birthplace of Boko Haram’s armed uprising has been the hardest hit by the terrorists as they have stepped up attacks and kidnappings and laying siege to strike on roads around Maiduguri the state capital .
James Jewett, director of the embassy’s office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, presented the equipment to Nigeria’s commissioner of police for the PMF, Mohammed Akeera, in a January 29 ceremony in the country’s capital.
“We are proud to stand with Nigerian law enforcement on the front line of maintaining peace and security. This donation will improve the health and security of those brave men and women committed to providing law and order,” Jewett said.
The 40,000-strong PMF is spread across the country in 79 squadrons.
Established in 1961, it has evolved into a security, anti-crime and counter terrorism force. It even has some units deployed as international peacekeepers.
Despite five years of declining terrorism from 2014 to 2019, according to the Global Terror Index, Nigeria in 2020 still ranked third in the world behind Afghanistan and Iraq among countries affected by terrorism.
In the past year, President Muhammadu Buhari has worked to expand the size and scope of paramilitary and police forces.
“We will direct our attention and strength to reenergizing and reorganizing the security apparatus,” Buhari pledged in a New Year’s Day broadcast amid a spike in insurgent violence.
Similarly, the Borno State governor. Babagana Zulum has called for more security forces in the region as the situation escalates
“This is very sad. Our people are in very difficult situations. They are in two different extreme conditions. On the one side, they stay at home and they may be killed by hunger and starvation. On the other, they go out to their farmlands, they risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
Zulum has firsthand knowledge of the terror threat in Borno State as his convoy was attacked three times within three months in 2020. He luckily, escaped unhurt.