By PETER DURU, Markudi
The new Commissioner of Police, Benue State Command, Mr. Adams Audu, has announced his presence in the command with the arrest of over 42 suspected criminals across the state, which remains one of the biggest haul of criminals in the history of the state.
Among the suspects arrested was a four-man gang who allegedly robbed and killed Rasaki Lukman,49, who until his death on Saturday, June 1, 2013 was the Benue State Area Sales Manager of West Africa Milk Company (WAMCO) PLC.
Parading the suspects last Wednesday at the State Command Headquarters in Makurdi, Audu explained that the deceased was discovered dead in his room beside Makurdi Modern market while his Toyota Corolla car and other items in his compound were also stolen. He said in the course of investigation, his men tracked the stolen vehicle in a hotel in Abuja where negotiations for the sale of the stolen car was ongoing.
According to the Police boss, the arrested suspects who included, Philip David, Owoicho Egwu, Ochai Obeh and Osuga Ezekiel, confessed to the dastardly killing of their victim after inflicting severe injuries on him, by tying his hands and legs and locking him in a room.
He disclosed that some of the items recovered from the suspects alongside the 2010 model Toyota Corolla include one GSM handset with two SIM cards, one clipper, a printer, six different handsets, and one vehicle plate number ‘CE 253 AKD’.
Mr. Audu explained that the other paraded suspects were arrested severally and collectively for criminal conspiracy, cultism, possession of fire arms and armed robbery in a renewed onslaught on criminality across the state. Among them were the duo of Mohammed Yau and Zakari Yau, the two herdsmen, who allegedly stole 43 cows belonging to Bishop Michael Aboci of Otukpo Catholic Diocese. They were said to have confessed that they Waylaid at gun point, the cow tenders at Ichama Village Okpokwu Local Government Area of the state.
He disclosed further that 41 of the stolen cows were recovered by the Police at the boundary between Okpokwu and Enugu State while one of the cow tenders, Fidelis Gor who was abducted by the gunmen was later found dead the following day by the Police search party while his companion, Jacob Biim escaped.”The Police Commissioner also revealed that among the paraded suspects was a gang of mercenaries who recently invaded and killed several persons in Agatu Local Government area of the state.
He recalled that, “recently some heavily armed men from Nasarawa State crossed over the river to Agatu Local Government area and attacked the community which resulted to the death of many people after burning down several houses. Police investigation led to the arrest of five persons who are presently being interrogated. Two of the suspects who were arrested June 11:Tanko Onyilo and Danladi Amadu had already confessed committing the offence.
“While Onyilo confessed killing two people, Danladi confessed to have killed seven persons while the crisis lasted. They stated that they were hired by Fulani herdsmen based in Nasarawa State, who they claimed hired them to unleash terror on the community on the premise that the people of Agatu never allowed them to graze their cattle in their land.”
Also paraded was one Atagher Eryum, a cashier with Ministry of Finance, Makurdi in company of Adoja Odugbo, a driver in the same Ministry both of whom he said went to First Bank Plc, Makurdi and withdrew the sum of N17.8m without escort. “They alleged that while on their way to the office, armed robbers struck and took away the above sum from them and escaped to unknown destination.
“Policemen who rushed to the scene recovered an AK 47 rifle magazine containing 27 rounds of live ammunition from the driver’s pocket while the scene of the alleged robbery is just about 100 meters away from the Secretariat’s gate. The whole story looked concocted but we are still investigating,” he said.
The Police also arrested a two-man robbery gang, namely: Myina Atetan and Yakubu Sari, who, a week ago, were apprehended in Konshisha with five different locally made guns after a thorough search was conducted in their homes.
According to Mr. Audu, the list of suspects also included the arrest of one Pius Eje and Jackson Ogasome in Oju Local Government area few days ago; the duo allegedly jumped into the premises of UBA Plc at Oju “but for the eagle eye police officers on duty at the bank premises who saw them. “On sighting the police, they took to their heels, they were however chased and arrested. On the spot search conducted on them led to the recovery of one locally made pistol and one small axe; we’re still on the trail of their accomplices,” he said.
Also arrested was a seven-man robbery gang who had, for several months, been terrorizing residents of Katsina-Ala town. He said the trial of the gang had already commenced.
Also apprehended in the special operation declared by the newly posted Commissioner was “one Samuel Chukwu who was arrested by the Police operatives near NYSC Secretariat, Makurdi where he and an accomplice, now at large, in a vehicle with registration number BH 980 AKD, attempted to snatch a vehicle belonging to one Jerry Kawgchia of University of Agriculture, Makurdi, but were apprehended by operatives of the special anti-robbery squad, SARS.”
Audu further disclosed that about two weeks ago, one Peverga Oril was arrested over a case of Criminal Conspiracy and Armed Robbery when some passengers from the Northern part of the country were on their way to Ogoja in Cross-River State and they were attacked at Baja, a village along Katsina-Ala-Zaki-Biam road. One of the passengers was shot and killed while others sustained serious injuries. He said, “One notorious armed robber known as, Peverga Oril was arrested in connection with the case and he is helping the Police in her investigation.”
The success story of the Command also included the arrest of a gang of ten suspected robbers who were apprehended in Katsina-Ala while attacking one Pastor Egwenze. “Various items including two vehicles, two traveling bags containing female clothes, shoes, jewelry among others were recovered from them.”
Among those apprehended by the Command were suspected cultists and armed young men on motorbikes who specialized in robbing their victims of their cellphones and valuables in and around Makurdi town.
The Commissioner of Police disclosed that since assumption of office in Benue State on 26th May, 2013, more than 20 assorted guns with various calibers of ammunition and cartridges had been recovered from criminals in the state. He, however, assured that in “Makurdi Metropolis and all Divisions and Area Commands, patrols had been intensified while men had been posted to the troubled areas of Agatu and Guma sequel to security challenges posed by farmers and herdsmen. Cult activities had also been seriously monitored and the perpetrators gone into hiding.”