By Emma Nnadozie Crime Editor
The tragic comedy playing out in the posting of Commissioners of Police to oil-rich Bayelsa State should serve as a veritable pointer to events that will herald the 2019 elections in the country. In the recent past, the opposition and notable Nigerians have voiced out their resentment and suspicion over the neutrality or otherwise of security agencies in conducting peaceful elections in the country. They particularly pointed accusing fingers at the Police and DSS as institutions that may be used to truncate the process.
Unfortunately, what is playing out today in Bayelsa State seems to give credence to their suspicion. This is because in the past six months, no fewer than eight Commissioners of Police have been posted to the state and removed unceremoniously. Some spent just few hours while others spent few weeks before being replaced without cogent reasons by Police authorities in Abuja. Precisely on October 10th 2018, a new Commissioner of Police, Ebere Onyeagoro who was in-charge of Interpol at FCID, Alagbon, Lagos was posted to the state. His posting came after about five other commissioners were posted and removed within six months. CP Onyeagoro’s posting came as a relief to the people and government of the state for the fact that he had spent considerable time in the past as an Area Commander in Yenagoa where he reportedly engaged cultists and other criminal elements fiercely and succeeded in curtailing their nefarious activities.
However, barely three weeks after he assumed duties in the state, a signal came from Police authorities in Abuja replacing him with another Commissioner of Police, Joseph Muka. Inside sources said CP Onyeagoro was removed after a former three-time senator in the state allegedly rushed to Abuja to whisper that he was in the good books of Bayelsa State Government. Conversely, the new CP, Joseph Muka seems not to be in the good books of stakeholders in the state hence his posting elicited anger and disgust, prompting open threats to demonstrate against his stay in the office. Sources said stakeholders’ resentment emanated from CP Muka’s activities while serving as a Deputy Commissioner of Police in-charge of Administration in the state earlier.
There was alleged disagreement between him and the state government over N10 million required for the replacement of a Police SUV which was tabled before the government but the government picked holes in the request and rejected it. He was subsequently posted to Adamawa State but he reportedly came back few months later as the substantive Commissioner of Police in the state. That notwithstanding, he was removed within three months. His removal came on the heels of unceremonious replacement of other commissioners of police in the state.
At the last count, Commissioners of Police affected by this scourge of unceremonious removal include A.A Amba, Don Anwunah, Ahmed Bello, Abdulrahman Amah and Austin Iwah, who retired after serving 35 years and as Assistant Inspector-General of Police, AIG, CP Onyeagoro, who came as the 7th commissioner posted to the state within a period of six months.
Yet the intrigues, power play and manoeuvring continue unabated. Reports reveal that just few hours after CP Onyeagoro assumed duties late October, Police authorities also posted another CP, Bashir Makama, a tested operational wizard and former CP in Anambra and Benue states, to take over from him. He was, however, replaced few hours after the signal came out with the same CP Onyeagoro whom the people seem to be at home with.
Strangely, just few hours after CP Onyeagoro assumed duties, embattled CP Joseph Muka was brought back again to the state. Interestingly, as CP Muka was trying to adjust to the demands of the office, another signal brought CP Tai-Saleh from Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos to Bayelsa State. The musical chairs game was taking place just as sources said that both the Bayelsa State Government and House of Assembly vowed to stage a protest over the incessant removal and posting of Commissioners of Police to the state, a situation they perceive to have turned the state into a rudderless ship, security wise. People were irked about the rate of cult killings and crime wave generally in the state.
Tempers flared last weekend after the gruesome killing of a 16- year-old 100 level student of the state-owned Niger Delta University, NDU, Siefa Fred, by suspected cultists while she was running an errand for her mother in the state capital, Yenegoa. She was close to her residence when the hoodlums opened fire on her in a bid to snatch her phone. Her brutal killing triggered spontaneous protests and condemnation in and around the state with strident calls on police authorities to restore sanity in the state.
The protesters described Bayelsa State as a lawless state, alleging that cultists are everywhere with arms; killing and maiming people, just to snatch their valuables, especially phones.
The sickening drama is playing within the state while commissioners of police serving in adjoining states like Rivers, Enugu, Anambra etc have served up to two years and above. For now, nobody knows where and when the pendulum will swing in the days ahead but what stakeholders allege is that there are attempts to have a stronghold over the security architecture of the state in preparation for 2019 elections. Who knows when the next posting and replacement will take place?