By Simon Ebegbulem , Benin-City
Assistant inspector general (AIG) of police, incharge of Zone 5 Benin, Muhammed Abubakar, has dismissed reports that 23 persons were crushed to death during a robbery incident along the Benin-Ore Express Road, on 23 February, 2010.
The AIG, who was reacting to the allegation by the minister of police affairs, Ibrahim Lame, who blamed the police for the incident, said the incident never happened in the zone and that if it happened in another part of the country, it was not even this year.
Edo State commissioner of police, Mr Kachi Udeoji, who addressed newsmen in Benin City, yesterday, on behalf of the AIG, asserted that crime has drastically reduced in the zone in the past two years, tracing the successes recorded to the cooperation of the various state governments in the zone. The zone comprises of Edo , Delta and Bayelsa states.
â€œThere is this allegation that a luxury bus was accosted by robbers and that 23 persons were crushed to death. We want to say categorically that such incident never happened in this zone on the 23 February, 2010. And it never happened this year. I want to state that in the last two years, we have stepped up intelligence gathering mechanism to combat crime in this zone and it has paid offâ€, Udeoji stated.
â€œFirst of all, we want to thank the various state governments in our zone for assisting the police immensely in the provision of patrol vehicles and communication gadgets. And that has helped in policing the area particularly in our highways where we used to record high crime rates. However, we want to use this opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government to assist us with more vehicles to enable us police the zone properly.
â€œThe strategies we adopted in curbing crime in the zone included community policing, training and retraining of our men. We also opened communication with GSM providers and governors in the zone volunteered to give good rewards to people with useful information about criminals. These factors have really helped us in combating crime in the zone and we appeal for more support from members of the public to enable us do moreâ€.
He lamented, however, that â€œwe have not been receiving enough support form GSM providers because in terms of kidnapping, we always need their support to enable us know the exact place the suspects are operating from. But most times it is delayed or we may never receive any reply from them. So it is worrisome. Tackling kidnappers needs quick response from the police but it is always delayed by the inability of GSM operators to give us this informationâ€.