By Emma Amaize, Editor, NDV
ASABA- SOME apprehensive policemen in Delta State Command have pulled the plug on how some unscrupulous police officers ruin genuine efforts of the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Muhammad Mustafa, to put kidnappers and other criminals out of action in the state.
The policemen, who confided in NDV, disclosed that incompetent officers have commercialized the operations of various units in the Command making it difficult for Mustafa, an honest and knowledgeable police officer, who met the irritating state of affairs on resumption of duty, to professionally deal with hoodlums.
They also disclosed that many policemen were recognizably poor in weapons handling and shooting, maintaining it was the reason criminals have rampantly been attacking, killing and disarming law enforcement officers in the state, lately.
A number of policemen had been callously murdered and their AK-47 rifles snatched by hooligans in the last few months in the state. The Command has found it thorny to recover the weapons though some suspects were said to have been arrested.
One of the aggrieved policemen asserted: “Policing in the state have long been commercialized by top police officers of some departments due to their corrupt tendencies long before Mustafa, who is upright and hard working was deployed to the state.”
“In fact, more than 70 percent of the total police personnel in Delta are providing illegal services as private guards and escort to rich individuals at the expense of the general public.
“Large numbers of these policemen are posted to guard hotels, private schools, petrol stations, supermarkets, beer parlous, eateries, brothels, private clinics, furniture, cold rooms and aluminum sales outlets.
“The rent of policemen on payment basis has greatly depleted the operational workforce of the command, thereby leaving some vulnerable areas and the roads unmanned for hoodlums to operate freely,” he said.
Another troubled policeman lamented: “Late, last year, armed robbers successfully robbed a UBA bullion van at Koka junction and the sum of $2 m being escorted from Onitsha to Asaba Airport was snatched as there was no police visibility from Bridge Head, Asaba to Koka junction, where the robbers operated freely without challenge.” Mustafa was yet to be drafted to the state then.”
“Notorious in the commercialization of the policing in Delta state is the Quick Response Squad, Warri. The squad is a concept of former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori in 2002. It was established as an elite unit to deal decisively with serious crimes like armed robbery and hostage taking.
“It was well equipped with gadgets, arms and vehicles with its base as defunct NRC secretariat, but today, they have turned the once glorious unit into a commercial venture. Over 300 mobile policemen sent on special duties from outside Delta Command together with above 200 policemen in the unit are deployed and posted to private individuals and companies on payment basis,” he alleged.
He bemoaned: “Unknown to the Delta state government, the police unit it is funding is being used for purposes other than maintaining visibility and patrols in volatile towns, communities and flashpoints within the state.”
Commissioner forced to device new means of intelligence gathering
An indignant policeman challenged NDV: “Go and find out, the Commissioner has devised various means of gathering intelligence due to the colossal failures of the State Intelligence Bureau, SIB. The supposed SPY unit is not complementing the efforts of the Operational and Anti-Crime Units. They are supposed to spy for the command and give it information, but its men do not do their private businesses.”
“It is another unit that has no contribution to the crime fighting mechanism of Delta Command. The largely discredited unit has failed woefully in its core mandate of intelligence gathering on the activities of criminals, their identities, hideouts, sponsors and operational methodology.
“The women serving in the unit are hiding under the unit to trade during official period and some of their men are idle wearing expensive suits and gallivanting about the state without doing any work. They are mostly seen at government offices, big companies and Petroleum Product and Marketing Company, PPMC, Warri, scrambling for lucrative beats with Operation department of the Command,” he said.
No intelligence on linchpins
The security operative told NDV: “Under the unit’s watchful eyes as spies for the police, an Area Commander was killed in Ughelli, Commander of SARS, Emmanuel German was kidnapped and killed, the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, “C” Division, Asaba was also killed and the King of Ubuluku was kidnapped and killed.”
“Various crimes such as kidnapping and robbery have been going on in most towns and cities in the state and the SIB unit is not doing anything to identify the perpetrators and killers,” he said.
He also expressed reservations about the Operations Department, saying: “We are upset by the increase in kidnapping and other criminal activities in the state and the nonchalant attitude of the police officers, who are supposed to help the commissioner to tackle the menace.”
Findings by NDV showed that in just one month, kidnappers in particular, have carried out hair-raising operations in the state, while in some instances in the past three months, policemen fled on the sight of armed robbers, who effortlessly disarmed them.
On October 14, marauding kidnappers abducted the second-in command, “A” Police Division, Asaba, Delta State, Superintendent Ayogu Florence, on her way to work and used her phone to call and demand for ransom.
While bewildered residents of the state were trying to figure out the strange development, gunmen, October 15, kidnapped a nursing mother, Victoria Esika, and her two children at Afisere community, Ughelli, Ughelli North local government area. The children were later abandoned at Isiokolo in Ethiope East local government council.
Five Catholics, among them nuns of the Order of the Missionary of Martha and Mary, MMM, Agbor, Ika South local government area, Issele-Uku Diocese in the state were returning from a burial ceremony in the eastern part of the country when they were hijacked at Railway Line, near Agbor, on October 25.
Some profit-making kidnappers struck barely four days after, October 29, along the Sapele –Warri road, abducting a Navy seaman, Kola Omoniyi, undergoing a course at the Naval Engineering College, Sapele. He was driving in his Corolla car when the hoodlums commandeered him. They later called on phone, demanding a ransom of N4 million.
Suspected herdsmen add four priests to list
A week ago, suspected Fulani herdsmen took hostage four Reverend Fathers at Urhonigbe, a border community on the Abraka-Agbor road, between Delta and Edo states.Last Thursday, Mustafa told reporters at Ughelli that detectives were on the trail of the kidnappers of four priests.
The police boss said, last Thursday: “We are on it. We have already picked some people around those areas and the hoodlums have opened up line of communication but we are encouraging people not to pay ransom for kidnap. We are tracking them and definitely, in the next few days or hours, we would be able to rescue them.”
Priests released but …
True to his words, the priests were released Friday evening, but the next day, Saturday, bandits armed with gun and machetes attacked policemen on “stop and search” duty around the popular Konwea Plaza, along Nnebisi Road, Asaba, the state capital, allegedly killing a policeman and seizing two AK 47 rifles and one service pistol.
NDV hints Commissioner
NDV sought audience with Commissioner Mustafa on the complaints. He noted down the schemes, but kept his next plan to himself.
The leader of the concerned policemen suggested: “The Inspector General of Police and Commissioner of Police should immediately and effectively address the dynamics, which have given rise to and sustained organized crimes and ensure total overhaul and reorganization of the QRS and the largely discredited SIB of Delta State Command.”
He added: “We would have gone to the Commissioner, but the kind of system we operate, we cannot even go to him and the senior officers affected will single us out for punishment later. That is why some of us decided to confide in you (Vanguard) because we know that you will make our concerns known to the authorities and protect our identities.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner Mustafa had ordered a training programme for policemen in the state on weapons handling and shooting. A three-day training on range practice commenced with a detachment of policemen, last Thursday, November 8 at 31 Police Mobile Force, PMF, improvised shooting range, along Ogwashi-Uku-Kwale Road, Ogwashi-Uku.
Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Delta, and DSP Andrew Aniamaka, in a statement, last week, advised members of the public, especially those living within Ogwashi Uku and environs “not to panic at the sound of gun shots/other related sounds and to stay away from the range site.”