By Chidi Nkwokpara
When Mr. Baba Adisa Bolanta was posted to head Imo State Police Command a few weeks ago, some indigenes and residents, especially those who know his pedigree, leaped for joy. Apart from this, Bolanta had served as Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, in the state, a few years back.
He knew what the state looked like before he was transferred. He must have equally read from the national dailies and weeklies what he was to inherit on his return to Imo State.
It did not therefore baffle close watchers of the state security situation that on arrival in Owerri, Bolanta quickly reassessed the crime situation, as well as got briefs from those on ground before his second “missionary journey” to Imo.
In an apparent move to match what he was told with what was on ground, Bolanta commenced a programmed tour of the divisional police headquarters and addressed his subordinates, traditional rulers, town union executives and opinion leaders in all the places he visited. Bolanta centered his address on the need to make Imo a crime-free state or possibly reduce it drastically.
So far, the new police boss has introduced radio and television jingles, warning the people to distance themselves from crime and criminals. He has also erected bill boards at strategic places in the state, wherein he enumerated telephone numbers that should be called when people find themselves in danger. This is the first of its kind since the creation of Imo State.
At an earlier encounter with Crime Guard in his office, CP Bolanta was particularly worried about the spate of kidnapping and armed robbery cases in the state. He promised that he will not only see any community that harbour armed robbers and kidnappers as waging a war on the state and its people but will also visit the full weight of the law on such communities.
He equally read the riot act to his officers and men. While assuring them that he will do everything within his power to make their duties lighter, Bolanta however warned that he will, in like manner, prescribe commensurate punishment for anybody that engages in unethical practices.
Armed with Bolanta’s directives, his men not only went to work but have remained visible in varying places. For instance, on October 9, 2012, at about 2.30pm, one Chibuzor Oguzie was seen hovering around a first generation bank located at Mbari Street, Owerri.
This bank was bombed some time ago by hoodlums. The inexplicable presence of this man attracted the attention of the bank’s security personnel and they quickly alerted the police patrol team. On sighting the police, the suspect, who was riding an unregistered motorcycle at the time, zoomed off towards the city. The police pursued and arrested him along Douglas Road.
On interrogation, the suspect denied being an armed robber but explained that his modus-operandi was to move around with master keys, looking for anybody that would cash money from banks and put in the car. He, however, affirmed that as soon as he identifies a possible victim, he would alert members of his gang, who would trail him/her from the bank premises to wherever the car would be parked.
The suspect named Chidi (surname unknown), a native of Amuri Omanze and another person identified by his nick name, “Nwa Aba”, as his colleagues in crime. Continuing, he said on the day he was arrested, the master key they came with was in Nwa Aba’s Toyota Sienna, while the motorcycle belonged to Chidi, who was driving in the Sienna, adding that “as soon as I was arrested, Nwa Aba and Chidi drove off in the Sienna.”
Bolanta and his men have equally nabbed trans-border hoodlums. First to be arrested was one Kingsley Ikechukwu, and following his confessional statement, one Chidi (surname unknown) was picked up by the police. The police boss told Crime Guard: “They operate within and outside Nigeria. Their operational bases include Cameroon, Dubai and other African countries.
The money they realized is what they used in buying all the properties police saw with them.”
The properties in Chibuzor Oguzie’s possession at the time of his arrest included: an unregistered Q-Link motorcycle, unregistered Mercedes Benz convertible car model SIK30, Toyota Camry car with registration number AY 412 WER, HI-GI audio power amplifier with its speakers, small size LG refrigerator and small Q-Link standing fan.
Kingsley Ikechukwu had Infinity QX4 Jeep with registration number BK 810 AKD, Mitsubishi L-300 bus with registration number YB 726 FST, Mitsubishi L-300 with registration number XB 143 UNC, two unregistered Q-Link motorcycles and an unregistered Sinoko ladies motorcycle.
On October 18, 2012, the police rescued an Eze-elect, a Catholic priest and another 72-year-old man from kidnappers den. Bolanta told the story better.“At about 7.30am on the fateful day, an Eze-elect, Nelson Orisakwe and Sir Godwin Orisakwe, both from Umueke village, Owerre Nkworji, Nkwerre local council area of Imo State, left their village for Owerri to attend a court session.
On getting to Eziama Obaire, also in Nkwerre local government area, four armed men jumped out of the bush to the highway. They shot sporadically into the air. This forced the hapless citizens to stop abruptly. Two of the armed men jumped into the Mercedes Benz V-booth the Eze-elect and his brother were in and drove away.