Gangs and cult groups do not seem to have any hiding place in Rivers State and have started to surrender.
Their usual forest fortresses do not seem to be safe anymore as the teams under the new commissioner of police, Abonyi Polycarp Emeka, have chased them to the bushes with blazing guns.
The notion that new CPs usually do initial show of force and pipe down to suck milk may have failed as Emeka has continued the raid in same pace, thus creating sleeplessness in the comity of criminal and cult gangs.
Earlier overtures for amnesty seemed shunned as the fight has continued in all fronts. Now, surrender seems the next option, and one ‘general’ has explored it.
Briefing the press on Friday, August 4, 2023, the new CP said operatives of the Command launched incessant raids on cultist camps. As a result, he stated, one gang leader known as ‘General ‘2Man’ of Ogbologbolo Community in Ahoada West, said to be leader of one of the cult groups, surrendered to the Police operatives.
One AK-47 rifle with six live rounds of 7.62 x 39 mm calibre and two SMG riffles were recovered from him, the CP stated. “An effort has been emplaced to launch more raids on the hoodlums for the possible recovery of more arms and ammunition in their possession.”
Giving further account, the CP said following credible information, operatives of his command from the Octopus Unit, Port Harcourt, raided a notorious criminal hideout at Rumuokwuta, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, on Friday, July 28, 2023.
He said on arrival, the notorious criminals took to their heels, escaped through the canal, and abandoned the following 14 rounds of 7.62 mm long-live ammunition, one Lar Rifle Magazine, 50 wraps of weeds suspected to be Indian Hemp, and more. He said an investigation has been commissioned, and efforts have intensified to arrest fleeing suspects.
He also said operatives of the Anti-Cultism Unit (former SARS) on stop and search along Aluu/Omagwa Road, sighted a Volvo vehicle registered in Imo State with two occupants.
“Upon sighting police operatives, they abandoned the vehicle and escaped into the bush. The vehicle was searched, and the following items were recovered: One AK-47 riffle, three AK-47 magazines, 12 rounds of 7.66mm ammunition, one pump-action riffle, and an empty black bag.
Efforts in place to arrest other fleeing suspects.”
Further, he stated, following a complaint from one Wale Alabi of Pepple Avenue UPE Borikiri, police operatives from the Command arrested one Precious Frank of Bakana Community Degema LGA, Rivers State, who allegedly specializes in generating fake alerts from the app, uses the same to defraud innocent point of sale (POS) operators and shopkeepers.
“Luck ran out on him as he cleverly went to the complainant’s shop, did a transaction of N100,000 and generated a fake alert message, and immediately disappeared from the area.
“On receiving the complaint, a thorough and diligent investigation was carried out, which led to the arrest of the suspect and the unravelling of the techniques adopted by the fraudsters to defraud the unsuspecting victims.
“The suspect has equally given detailed information that will surely lead to the arrest of other members of the gang, who also go about defrauding unsuspecting victims using the same method in the Port Harcourt metropolis. The fake App will always display successful transactions to confuse their victims without remitting the money to the victim’s account.
“Pragmatic efforts are put into ensuring that other culprits are also arrested.”
Yet, operatives of the Command last week Thursday while conducting stop and search along Port Harcourt/Aba Road, was said to have intercepted a black Honda Crosstour without registration number with two occupants that looked suspicious.
“On interrogation, it was discovered that the vehicle was removed at No. 1 Lawson Avenue, Wali Estate, Port Harcourt.
The suspects confessed to the crime, and an investigation is underway to arrest other members of their gang.”
He said operatives of Hunter Strike Unit at Casablanca Axis GRA Phase 2 Port Harcourt engaged three suspected kidnappers who attacked/blocked a grey Toyota Corolla Car driven by one Samuel Okonkwo, a Bolt driver, and one Okorie U. Arinze “m”, a passenger, about to Kidnap them when Police operatives arrived at the scene. “As an exchange of gunfire ensured, the hoodlums fled and abandoned the vehicle and victims. Investigation is ongoing to arrest the other members of their gang.”
Yet, operatives have arrested one suspect presently residing at Mass Central Hotel, UPE Sandfilled Borikiri, in connection with the murder of one Josephine Ibiju, of Baptist Waterfront. This he said was reported on Saturday, June 10, 2023. “Preliminary investigation has commenced, and the case will soon be transferred to SCID, Port Harcourt.”
This is how Rivers State crime situation has turned from the suspects and gangs being lords to being hunted.
Meanwhile, order has come from new Inspector-General of Police to all commands to set up units to check excesses of policemen.
The order was said to be sequel to the receipt of series of complaints and outcry from members of the public against high-handedness, extortion, and inappropriate behaviours by police personnel.
The acting IG Kayode Adeolu Egbetokun, according to a statement, has announced a significant restructuring and strengthening of the IGP Monitoring Unit and the X-Squad within the Police Force to ensure greater efficiency, sanity, and accountability.
“The IGP recognizes the importance of upholding the highest standards of conduct and professionalism among police officers and men and aims to address any excesses or improper behaviour displayed by the police.
“In the same vein, the Ag. IGP has directed the Commissioners of Police in charge of State Commands to immediately establish Complaints Response Unit in their respective commands in line with the provisions of Section 131 (1) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, to compliment the efforts of the restructured IGP Monitoring Unit and X-Squad for better service delivery.
“As part of the restructuring process, both units IGPMU and X-Squad, will undergo comprehensive reforms, including the integration of advanced technologies and training to equip their personnel with the necessary tools to carry out their statutory duties effectively.
“The Units will be tasked with the crucial responsibility of overseeing and investigating complaints against police officers, ensuring that any misconduct or abuse of power is thoroughly addressed and such reported to the IGP for immediate sanctions, with a view to checkmate inappropriate behaviour among police personnel, most especially indiscriminate extortion of innocent Nigerians along our highways.”
The IGP is said to have emphasized that the restructured IGP Monitoring Unit and X-Squad would function independently and impartially, with a commitment to transparency and justice. “Additionally, the units will work closely with other internal complaint units and external oversight bodies to foster an environment of accountability and to maintain public trust in the police force.
“Meanwhile, complaints and relevant information on police actions can be sent via the official email or phone number of the Unit – [email protected] / 08036242591 or via the Police Complaints Response Unit (CRU) – 08057000001, 08057000002 or 08057000003(SMS/WhatsApp only).”
The Inspector General of Police has therefore called on all police officers to be aware of the wind of change and fully cooperate with the IGP Monitoring Unit, X-Squad and other complaint sections to achieve their mandates without undue interference and hindrance from any quarters.
He also reaffirmed the commitment of the Force to upholding the highest standards of integrity, professionalism, and respect for human rights in the discharge of police duties.
The statement also conveyed the posting of Bartholomew N. Onyeka to Benue State Police Command and Julius Alawari Okoro to head the Plateau State Police Command as part of strategic efforts on improving security deployments and leadership in the areas, according to the Force Public Relations Officer, an assistant commissioner of police, Olumuyiwa Adejobi in Abuja.