By Emma Nnadozie (Crime Editor)
If the divisional PoliceÂ officer in-chargeÂ Â of Awka Metropolis in Anambra state, Francis Effiong Bassey (44) had known that coming down closer home after serving the Police Force diligently at the Force Headquarters in Abuja will spell doom for him, he would have rather, chosen to remain where he was.
The 1987 graduate of English Language at the prestigious University of Port Harcourt alongside Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State received news of his transfer from Abuja to Onitsha late last year with mixed feelings.
Though he was eagerly looking forward to his elevation to the next rank as an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP),Â he nevertheless wasted no time in heading down to the commercial city of Onitsha to assume duties at the Central Police Station.Â Â Before then, he had a brief stint at the Police Command in Calabar as the second in command, State Criminal Investigations Department.
Then, in the last week of April, 2009, he found himself moving again to Awka, capital of Anambra state where he was made the Divisional Police Officer in~charge of the Central Police Station.
The posting of Chief Superintendent of Police Bassey to Awka was at the wake of increasing spate of kidnaping and robbery in the area and the State Commissioner of Police, Aamusa Bello, a dogged crime fighter, was forced to hastily spread his dragnet in search of other tested and courageous crime fighters to rescue the ugly situation.
He found a veritable and reliable companion in CSP Bassey whose enviable credentials in crime fighting stands as tall as the legendry iroko tree.
Thus, on Friday June 5, 2009 when dare~devil kidnappers struck, both the Commissioner of Police and CSP Bassey did not leave any stone unturned in going for the jugular of the rampaging criminals.
The 15~man gang of kidnappers who were heavily armed with sophisticated weapons had targeted one of the prominent Industrialists and business mogul in the state and had succeeded in kidnaping him at the popular UNIZIK junction in Awka and were escaping from the scene when the Police was alerted by their sporadic release of gunfire indiscriminately.
Both the State Police Commissioner and DPO Bassey took up the challenge posed by the fleeing kidnapers and went in their pursuit.Â Â Meanwhile, before moving out from his station, DPO Bassey quickly placed a call to his amiable wife, Mandy, a graduate of Agric. Economics at Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT), informing her that they were going for an operation.
While the State Police boss led his team to intercept the fleeing bandits, CSP Bassey moved headlong with the aim of boxing them into submission.Â Unfortunately, when the effrontery of the Police team became so unbearable for the kidnapers, they decided to confront the policemen.
It was during the heavy shootout that ensued that CSP Bassey was hit on the left eye and the bullet pierced his left eye and penetrated deeply into his skull.Â Â He gave up the ghost before getting to hospital.Â Ironically, while the operation was going on, the anxious wife was busy trying to reach him without success.
Then few minutes after he was confirmed dead, the wifeâ€˜s call came again but to her surprise, another person picked it only to inform her that her husband was still busy.Â It was the following day that officers and men of the command summoned courage to break the sad news to her.
In fact, it was gathered that when the wife was anxiously trying to reach out to the husband while the operation was going on, their four kids, 2 boys and 2 girls abandoned their fellow kids at the play ground and cuddled very close to their mother.
Perhaps, it was the challenge posed by the brutal killing of CSP Bassey that spurred the command into action and at the end of the day, they ended up rescuing the kidnaped business man in an uncompleted building at Nibo in Awka South local government area.
In spite of this success that was recorded, many officers and men of the command including the Commissioner of Police wept uncontrollably at the demise of one of the best crime fighters in the force in recent times.