Nigeria police official fired amid violence

Story highlights

  • Top police jobs were at risk since escape of a terror suspect
  • The inspector general of the police in Nigeria has been fired, aides to the president say
  • The firing comes amid a wave of violence linked to Islamic militants
The inspector general of police in Nigeria has been fired, aides to the Nigerian president said Wednesday.
Hafiz Abubakar Ringim's firing comes amid a wave of violence linked to the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
The group has been blamed for months of widespread bloodshed, with churches and police stations among the targets.
Security forces appeared to have hit back with a wave of arrests this week; the inspector general was let go all the same.
All deputy inspectors general also were dismissed.
The government released a statement saying the move is "a first step towards the comprehensive reorganization and repositioning of the Nigeria police force to make it more effective and capable of meeting emerging internal security challenges."
Mohammed D. Abubakar, who was Ringim's assistant, was named acting inspector general.
President Goodluck Jonathan also announced the creation of a commission for the "urgent reorganization" of police.
Ringim's tenure as inspector general was at risk since the escape earlier this month of a terror suspect who was in police custody.
The fugitive, identified by police as Kabiru Sokoto, is suspected to have orchestrated a series of deadly church bombings on Christmas Day.
Police were given 24 hours to rearrest Sokoto or face firings. He has not yet been captured.
In December, Jonathan declared a state of emergency in four northern states after the series of Christmas Day bombings blamed on Boko Haram.
The group was formed in 2002 by Islamic preacher Mohammad Yusuf amid ethnic tensions in the country.
Nigeria's population is split between mostly Muslims living in the north and predominantly Christians in the south. Yusuf advocated the institution of Sharia law throughout the northern states and opposed democracy.
The group operated openly out of northeastern Nigeria and staged small-scale attacks against government targets.
In 2009, Nigerian police forces moved to crack down on Boko Haram. Harsh police tactics led to an armed uprising and the arrest of Yusuf, who later died in police custody. The death spurred the group to begin its attacks on police stations. Clashes between group members and the police killed hundreds.
The following year, Boko Haram emerged as a more radicalized, insurgent-style group, staging assassinations and attacks against not only government targets, but also churches and even a beer garden.