*We won’t cover criminals in police uniform
By Emma Ammaize
DELTA State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba , speaks on how he is fighting kidnappers and why the police would not cover up for any police officer involved in kidnapping or any criminal act in the course of his/her job. Excerpts:
There is fear of kidnappers everywhere in Delta State. Can we have some insight into how you are dealing with this menace and other crimes in the state?
The fact is that Delta State remains a flashpoint; there is no doubt about that. All the vices are here staring at us – robbery, kidnapping, restiveness on the part of the youths – and, on our part, we are humans, we try to make sure that we bring crime down to a tolerable level. There is nowhere, there is no society that is crime-free, even the United States of America, which is number one in violent crimes. On our own part in Delta State, we are doing our best.
When I was posted here, the situation I met on ground was terrible and I started on the first day by reorganising the anti-kidnapping team. We organised training for them and our records are there for anybody to see. Let me talk about the EMBER months, we have been able to pick up to 100 suspected criminals, both kidnappers and robbers. We have been able to recover more than 40 assorted rifles. Therefore, what else do you want us to do? And we are connecting with the communities, we are working hand in hand with the vigilante groups; though there are some of them that are good, there are some that are bad. I have always told people, we are not magicians, we are working in synergy with even the military, even though there are hiccups sometimes with those in the junior ranks, and the Department of State Service, DSS, we are all working together.
However, the fact remains that idle minds are the devil’s workshops. Sometimes, bad people gather them and use them to commit crimes. Youths, even under aged people, were recruited to raid banks; we have arrested students here in Delta State. There was one time they struck at Ibusa, it was a real battle, we lost about six officers, but our men fought back professionally and the robbers saw hell; since then, there has been peace; all the banks are working now, there is nightlife. If all of us join hands together, we will fight the battle together and win.
You said you met a terrible situation. What was the terrible situation?
Kidnapping was rampant; people were being picked up in the state. Many Indians were picked up and other expatriates, Warri was upside down. Now, the difference is clear. The whole thing went down; for more than one month, nothing happened. We did not record a single case.
Who and who have you discovered to be responsible for the kidnapping in the state?
If you say who – members of the society, particularly the youths; if you ask of the axis, the main axis is Kokori and the person training them is one Kelvin. He is operating from Kokori and has been declared wanted. There is another graduate of Imo State University, who made a 2.1 in mechanical engineering, these are the two in that axis, and they are training people. Most of the okada people that you find around this Kokori axis, they bought these machines for them, we have some of their boys and they are cooling off in prison. They were arraigned in court and were ordered to be remanded. There was a gang that we traced recently to Agulu in Anambra State, but they were operating in Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku area of the state. The dare-devil kidnapper, who leads the gang, was arrested at Okwe, near Asaba and, through him, police later went to Obomkpa, where a cripple and his father, both native doctors that prepare voodoo charms for the vicious die-hard gang members, were arrested. I know where you are heading to, so it is not a question of one particular person, nothing like that.
When you talk about training, is there a training school where the kingpin trains his boys?
I cannot say that in the media. Nevertheless, what I can tell is that this Kelvin recruits undergraduates, graduates, Okada riders, and he buys motorcycles for them and tutors them. He has so many gangs in the state working for him. There is a network; this is what I have discovered and we have been finding it difficult to get at him because, in that axis, the moment they see any stranger, they will blow the whistle. However, we have been able to bulldoze to some extent; it is in Kelvin’s house that we picked up the personal assistant to a commissioner in the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, who was kidnapped. His (Kelvin) parents are there, but you know this arrest by proxy, we do not want to be involved in it; otherwise, the person that is giving everybody headache in this state is Kelvin and he is from Kokori.
There is this case of a judge, Justice Flora Azinge, who could not sit for nearly two months because kidnappers were after her. The shocking thing is that some police officers are involved in the syndicate and they are allegedly being given cover and a police armourer is on the run because of his involvement in the case.
If there is any problem, you will blame the society, the recruitment pattern. There is always that problem. When people are recommended by traditional rulers, they come into the force; if they are criminals, you may not know and we have a kind of mechanism whereby when these people are discovered along the line, we throw them out of the force. The disciplinary procedures are there, but you cannot use them negatively. This is our own and we have discovered that it is bad. Nobody is covering up anybody; the Inspector General of Police is carrying out reformation of the force and he has warned us against being involved in any form of criminality. If there is an allegation, we have to investigate properly because we do not want a situation where if you are sent out and arraigned eventually, you go to court and your lawyer will use technicalities to get the court to bring you back.
Therefore, we want to be sure that we are on the right path, we have our lawyers. If you talk of the judge, you are saying some people said the police are neck deep; it depends on the way you look at it. When the matter was brought to my attention, I visited the judge; she is a sister as far as I am concerned and a Nigerian. She was suspecting her orderly, but you know some of the stories, they said his phone was ringing and all that, but the question is, why was he not picked at that particular point in time? Where is the phone?
That is what we are saying. The suspicion is there, three people were there, but, at the end of the day, where is this phone? We want to be very thorough in our investigations. The orderly has been arrested. Has he been released? The answer is no. We are working on the phone number in question in this case, you have to work with some of these service providers and this service provider, which I do not want to mention, is causing delay. Otherwise, by now, we would have tidied up our investigations. Because suspicion, no matter how it is, cannot secure conviction in the law court and that is why we want to tread with caution.
Now, the second time when they talked about ransom, yes, a policeman, as a matter of fact, was arrested at the scene. And till now, he has not been able to explain why he left his beat, which we established. He left his beat around 10.00 pm and so, he has a question to answer. His phone is with us and we have discovered that everything was wiped out, there is nothing there. And we are working, we are working with the service provider to get the real communication that transpired and do our case.