•Station savouring protection by vigilante group
•22 cops, three AK-47 rifles, I pistol guard 74 communities in Burutu division
•Militants ransacked Aboh Police Division, killed 2 policemen in Sept 2018
•Four Police Commissioners from time of incident to date, no action
•Residents state more reasons criminals are gaining upper hand in South South
•I’m yet to be updated – Commissioner Inuwa
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Ochuko Akuopha and Chancel Sunday
FOR one year, seven months running, the Divisional Police Station, Aboh, supposed to provide security for coastal communities in Ndokwa East Local Government Area, Delta State, scandalously, has no arms and ammunition in its armory for police officers deployed to the division to fight crime.
The Burutu Police Division in Burutu Local Government Area also has scanty arms, about three AK-47 rifles, a pistol and 22 policemen to serve over 74 riverine communities.
Suspected militants and sea pirates allegedly plundered Aboh Police Station in September 2018, killing two police officers and carting away five AK-47 rifles and other vigilante firearms at the police station, but since then, the state Commissioner of Police has not deemed it expedient to replace the pilfered weapons.
To avoid further disgrace of the weaponless policemen, local vigilante and anti-cult groups have been synergizing with them in protecting the station and handling some security breaches in the division.
Findings by Saturday Vanguard show that Delta State Police Command has had four Commissioners of Police since the incident. Muhammad Mustafa handed over in December 2018 to Anthony Ogbizi. Adeleke Yinka took over from Ogbizi in February 2019, but about 10 months after, December 2019, Hafiz Inuwa, took charge. He has been in control for more than four months.
Our investigations show that residents of peaceful people of Aboh and surrounding coastal communities have been living at the mercy of bandits since then. Some hoodlums escape from Rivers state to take refuge in Aboh knowing that the police on ground were weaponless.
What baffled informed citizens of the area is the shoddy manner police detectives handled investigations into the theft of their own weapons, apprehending mainly innocent persons, who they tormented, squeezed money from and later released, while the real criminals they should have tracked down with intelligence information were never arrested till date.
An Assistant Commissioners of Police, ACP, who confirmed the development and asked our reporter not to quote him, said: “It is an embarrassment.”
It was learned that Aboh Police Station serves almost half of Ndokwa East local government area, but there is another police division, Ashaka, which serves the other section of the area.
In Burutua, policemen are ‘boys scouts’, they have no arms to operate – Stainless, Buruta CDC chair
Community Development Committee, CDC, chair, Burutu community, Mr. Pondy Ebipadeowei Stainless, hinted Saturday Vanguard: “Burutu community, headquarters of Burutu local government area, has a newly-created Police Area Command and Police Divisional office.
”Early, this year, I attended a South-South Security Summit in Asaba, where the Inspector General of Police, IGP, governors and commissioners were also in attendance. In that meeting, I told the IGP about the sorry state of the police in Burutu local government area, who expressed surprise and was jotting down points.
”The fact remains that there is no manpower, no arms and officers are not mobile because there are no patrol boats to police the riverine council area. They recently deployed 12 additional police officers to complement the existing 12 officers making it up to 24 to police over 74 communities in the council area. The additional 12 officers maybe as a result of my appeal at the Asaba summit.
”Again, in the Burutu police division, there are about three rifles and a pistol. In fact, the police in Burutu local government area are more or less Boy Scouts,” he said.
Aboh police has no guns as we speak – Hon Imegwu, ex-Speaker
Former Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly and respected leader in Aboh, Rt. Hon Olisa Imegwu, who is familiar with the incident, told Saturday Vanguard unequivocally: “The Divisional Police Station at Aboh, headquarters of Ndokwa East local government area does not have arms and ammunition as we speak. Sometime in 2018, some criminals attacked the police station and stole their arms, I think they killed two policemen when they broke into the police station. The police authorities have not replaced the stolen arms till date.”
Hon Imegwu, who spoke in Asaba, asserted: “The rented apartment they are currently using as a temporal police station in Aboh was rented from me. We were in a speedboat going to Ashaka when a young man, who also boarded with us made a strange request to the boat driver. He wanted him to stop at a point on the river to enable him pick up a luggage. The request was abnormal because whenever a boat is loaded, the driver does not normally stop on the way to pick any luggage.”
“The driver’s reaction and that of all of us in the boat was that of shock, but the driver all the same granted the request of the passenger, who I couldn’t simply identify. Actually, at a certain point during the journey, he asked the driver to stop for him to pick the said luggage, we were waiting in the boat when the driver saw somebody carrying a bag, which he immediately suspected was containing guns and he screamed he does not ferry and would not transport guns.
“The young man, who owns the guns disembarked at that point and it was after that I got to know that the Aboh Police Division was raided the previous night. As soon as I got to where there was network, I called the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, he said he was no longer in Aboh, that he had been transferred to another station, I think he said Aladja Police Division.
“I called other senior police officers and gave them the information I had and how they could get the boat driver to assist them with any clue he had about the passenger and his accomplice, but I was surprised that the police were arresting those that knew nothing about the incident, beating them and extorting as much as N600, 000 from them for bail.
“With the tactics they adopted, those who could have given them information about the suspects took flight, even the boat driver, who I guess might have known the commuter and the collaborator we saw with the luggage ran for his dear life from Aboh when he saw how police treated other innocent persons they locked up for months.
“Until today, I do not think the police got to know who stole their weapons and the authorities at Asaba have not bothered to equip Aboh Division with arms and ammunition since then,” he added.
Ex-CPs knew the terrible situation and took no action
The former Speaker said some previous Commissioners of Police in the state were aware that Aboh Police Division had no weapons, but rather than equip the station, they draft operatives of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad, SARS, from Oleh or Asaba and other teams to stay in the community whenever there were operations to be executed.
He complained that the police officers make the poor villagers to donate money for their upkeep and once they run out of funds and could make no more sacrifice, they take their exit.
His words: “We are without security, Aboh is at the mercy of bad boys and thugs operate freely because the police here are not armed. Some criminals from Rivers state come to take refuge in Aboh where they already know there is no security.”
Saturday Vanguard visited the sleepy Aboh community on Tuesday, where we observed that the women of the community said to be very hard-working, had all gone to the farm. None on the street to speak to.
Police reluctant on leaving rented apartment for its own structure – Ozegbe, Secretary, ATC
At the palace of HRM Obi Imegwu II, the Obi of Aboh kingdom, where the chiefs and youths were already waiting for our crew, the Ozea of the kingdom, Chief Kenneth Odili-Ajie moderated the interaction with the people.
In attendance were the Secretary, Aboh Traditional Council, High Chief Joseph Ozegbe, Oshodin of the kingdom/Treasurer of the Council, Chief Henry Enebeli and Ndanike of Aboh kingdom, Chief Charles Ugboma Others were, the Councilor representing Aboh ward 10, the Ndokwa East Legislative Arm, Hon Azuka Opone, Ochi-agha, (Youth President) Mr. Odogwu Chukwuma and other notable indigenes of the kingdom.
Secretary, Aboh Traditional Council, High Chief Ozegbe, said: “It (raid) happened in 2018, it came to us as a surprise, it was a calamity. They collected their arms and ammunition and we have been saying that the place the police station is, is a rented place. You have to count one before you can count two. Generally, if you are on transfer to anywhere, the office that they said you should report to, go there and report. That is actually what we met but now, the police is going upside down.”
“There is a place for them and they ought to have been using that place. It was because of the porosity and nearness to the river that made the criminals succeed. If it were to be the other place, it would not have been possible. We told the Commissioner of Police in charge of the state, some years back, that it was high time they moved to that place but they are reluctant, they do not want to do it.
“There is a place that is manageable and secure for them to stay at the main time until the state or federal government build a place for them. This is what we are recommending, but they do not want to move.”
On how they have been securing themselves after suspected sea pirates carted away their weapons from the police station, he asserted: “There is nobody who can protect anybody except God, but with the cooperation of human beings because He has given us the grace. The cooperation of the police, youth and even the elders, things have been going on well, but it is the Almighty God that has been protecting us. “
Pirates stole 5 AK-47, vigilante rifles – Chief Ugboma, PCRC chair
The Ndanike of Aboh kingdom and Chairman, Police Community Relations Committee, PCRC, Chief Charles Ugboma, stated: “By the special grace of God, I am the chairman of PCRC. The station is being managed by the DPO and myself. When the incident of 2018 happened, God was and still with me because they would have started with me, it was just by my house that they landed.
“They came at about 1a. They went there, they were seven, five went up, one was patrolling, one was with the engine (speedboat). So the five that went up started shooting, shot one immediately, that one died. Then a lady, who was a police woman was up, not too well, when she heard the gunshots, she shouted because they thought there was no other policeman, so the woman said ‘Musa who dey shoot?’. They now knew somebody was up, so when they went upstairs, they dragged the woman down, asking her, ‘who are you?
“Experience made the woman to say, ‘I be accused person, I bite somebody, the police arrested me and I was locked up here. Tomorrow, my people will come bail me.
“They did not believe her, but there was another gunshot, the one who was asking was attracted and the woman found her way and ran way. They asked her where is your DPO, she said “I nor know who be DPO. They asked her again, Where your armory? She said “I never hear that kind English.’
“They started breaking the doors, they saw the armory and they carted away about four or five AK-47 with some rifles belonging to Vigilante.
“I am also the head of the vigilante here in the local government and the patron. Since then, we have been managing the station with the rifles owned by the vigilantes and the anti-cult at the police station there and we have been managing to see if we can get reinforcement here.
”I do not know why there is no seriousness in the demand, so we allowed them. Every day, we get two pump action and rifle holders at the station. Anti-cult are the ones using the pump.
“Security in Aboh here is porous but we are managing because God is here and that is why we do not see anything that would make us cry out so much. The government is not doing us well here.”
On criminal activities in the community, abandoned police station
“The place is peaceful here, there is no kidnapping, no robbery but you cannot rule out pilfering, boys who are hungry, or who want to be rascals, but there is nothing serious.
“The 13 percent derivation building is the building given to them as their office, then the council also assisted by providing another six-room block.
“When the former Commissioner of Police, Ikechukwu Aduba came and went there for inspection, he said that the building was okay, but there were no facilities.
“I go there always to knock off the anthills that block the building. He told us to put borehole and everything that will make that place habitable and by the grace of God, we have gotten borehole from the High Court. They are close and they can manage it.
“If they want to go there, they can go there and make it habitable. Why they are not there now was because the commissioner of Police came and said no facilities there,” he added.
Police should relocate
The Aboh PCRC boss asserted: “We call on the Inspector General of Police to direct the officers in charge of Delta State to relocate them from the rented house they are occupying to the permanent place that was provided for them by the community and make the place habitable and also provide them with weapons to fight crime.”
Aboh Police operating without arms since 2018- Hon Opone, councilor
Councilor representing Aboh – Ward 10 in the Ndokwa East Legislative Arm, Mr. Azuka Opone, disclosed: “Before now, we were very okay. The police were doing the needful while the community youths were also assisting in the aspect of security, we also have the vigilante, but ever since militants came through the river and attacked the police station, vandalized the station, removing their arms, they have been operating without arms.”
“The community is a very nice community where the people also cooperate. They have been seeing reasons the community should be in peace, working hand in hand with the police as well.
On what generated the problem
“It was during the flood time. The police station is close to the water and during the flood, the area is usually submerged by flood and water gets close to the police station.
“They (the hoodlums) parked their speed boat close to the police station and started shooting their guns. That should be around 1.00 am. They went to the police station, killed two policemen and removed their arms, went back to their boat and drove away,” he added.
Hon Opone explained: “There is communal effort, the police are trying their best, the vigilante have been cooperating and the youths are also doing the needful.
“They cooperate as a team, the vigilante, the anti- cult and the police to protect the police station and fight crime in the area,” he said.
DPO complained about poorly-built armory – Chukwuma, youth president
Ochi-agha, (Youth President), Mr. Odogwu Chukwuma, told our reporters in Aboh: “When those pirates attacked the police station, I was called, then I called my executive members. We went there, assisted them to rescue the one of them, but before getting to the hospital, he died on the way.”
“Since then we have been trying to see what we can do to maintain peace, we built cordial relationship with them in conjunction with the voluntary security agencies, talking about the anti-cult, vigilantes and even the various quarters’ chairmen, all were mandated to see how everybody will maintain his area and since then, this has helped to reduced major crime.
“Actually there is a place for them to stay, but one time, the DPO reported that why they would not want to move in there was because the armory was not decked, that they used ordinary PVC or asbestos for the ceiling and for that reason, they cannot move in there.
I’m yet to be updated – Commissioner Inuwa
Vanguard had a full blown interview with Commissioner Inuwa in his office at Asaba, yesterday afternoon. On the Aboh saga, we asked: “There is a very sad discovery that we made at Abor Police Division, that division was raided in 2018 by suspected militants/pirates, who took away five AK 47 rifles and some rifles belonging to a vigilante group. We found out that up till date, the police division has no firearms, are you aware of this situation?
Commissioner’s response: “I am not, as far as I am concerned, I not aware, I am yet to be briefed on this.”
CRIME IN SOUTH-SOUTH:
Why Police are losing grounds (2)
*Lawbreakers are more daring these days – Oyakhire, ex-AIG
*Bandits take advantage of laughable weapons to attack Edo police stations
*Criminals sponsor members into NPF
*Police officers patrol on foot in C’River due to lack of vehicles- PPRO
Today, we conclude our story on the challenges of the Nigeria Police Force in their fight against crime.
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Gabriel Enogholase, Ikechukwu Uche, Chioma Onuegbu, Emem Idio and Ozioruva Aliu
Edo gangsters know
police lack weapons
In Edo state, painstaking investigations by Saturday Vanguard pointed to inadequate arms, ammunition and personnel as the major challenge affecting police and policing.
Apart from Police Divisions in Benin City, the state capital and others close to the city, most of the police stations depend largely on vigilante groups and hunters to combat crime and criminality.
Investigation showed that many of the suspected criminals are aware of the deficiencies of the police stations, hence when they go on operations, in some cases, they first attack the police stations, demobilise them and then go to their targets for their operations.
These incidents have happened in Auchi, Etsako West local government area, Afuze in Owan East and Igarra in Akoko-Edo local government areas.
A police source in Benin City told Saturday Vanguard: “The major trial we have in divisions include inadequate personnel and arms. That is why most times when the police are attacked, they easily run out of ammunition and you see them retreat or the suspected criminals escape without pursuit.”
“ In some cases where the suspected robbers or kidnappers have upper hand against the police, the officers lose their arms some of which are not replaced. This further depletes what they have that is already insufficient.
“But if you take a look at the squad that goes with maybe the Commissioner of Police or Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, you will see that they have more ammunition, especially the Compol, who is always on the move. That is why some years ago, a Commissioner was attacked at Ovia River on his way to the NYSC Orientation Camp in Okada, but because his men were well armed, they were able to repel and even kill some of the robbers.
“They had superior firepower but if it was a division that suffered that attack, they would have all been killed. Now look at the Commissioner in the state that was kidnapped few days ago, the kidnappers killed his orderly and they went with his rifle.
”It is because of this that sometimes you see policemen with pump action while on patrol or in some checkpoints. Some of these pump action they use are either recovered from cultists or individuals who do not have the license to own them,” he said.
Corroborating this, a member of the vigilante group in Edo North said most of the crimes that have been burst and arrests made were always during joint operations with police, vigilante and hunters.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said: “There is an Area Command in Igarra and also a station there, but you will be shocked at the number of arms and ammunition they have. Most of the times, our men join them to pursue and arrest criminals. When they attacked Auchi some years ago, the vigilante and hunters were called out to give support, several arrests of kidnappers in that area have been with vigilante and hunters.”
“In Igarra, last two years, robbers first went to destroy the police station, kill some policemen and then went to the banks where people were also killed. It was the mobile police officer in one of the banks that was able to gun down one of the robbers and then vigilante helped to pursue them and some were arrested.
“We have our men in all the exit routes from Akoko-Edo. Just few months ago, some students of the University of Benin, who visited Akoko-Edo for field study were kidnapped. It was vigilante men that rescued all of them and that was why when they were to be taken back to Benin, they refused police escort and preferred vigilante escort.
Criminals more ferocious nowadays – Oyakhire, ex-AIG
Former Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) retired and ex-Military Administrator of Taraba and Oyo states, Mr. Amen Oyakhire, informed Saturday Vanguard: “The criminals are very aggressive today because they are hungry and watching what is happening in the society.”
The Scotland Yard trained detective asserted: “However, there’s the need for the Police to be well equipped, well trained, well enumerated so that the policeman can sacrifice his life for the society. Once the Police in a country are well funded and the welfare of the officers taken care off, the country will be good. The police should be properly funded so that the citizens can go about their different callings without molestation from criminals.”
No self-control – Hon Igbinedion
Former member of the Edo State House of Assembly, Hon Dele Igbinedion, stated: “One of the reasons criminals are overwhelming the Police is the low morale among the rank and file of the Police, hence they are doing what they like. For instance, a criminal is arrested, but because of corruption, such a criminal can buy his way out.”
He added: “Moreover, high level discipline is lacking within the Force. This is unlike in the United Kingdom where there is a serious Police Complaint Commission, which draws its members from retired judges, police officers, clergymen, etc. Complaints from the public against the police from citizens are looked into by the Commission and appropriate measures taken. This is also happening in the United States of America . So for any police system to succeed, there should be discipline among its members, otherwise it cannot succeed.
Expect no miracle from police- Okoro, journalist
A journalist, Churchill Okoro echoed: “The question that I would like to ask is where’s the Ministry of Police Affairs? What are its functions? The Ministry should know what its functions are. It is laughable that the Police are expected to perform wonders while the personnel are underpaid, underfunded and ill-equipped. I believe the Police Affairs Ministry should be seen to be performing its duties, otherwise there should be no miracle expected from the Police
In Akwa Ibom, investigation revealed that lack of adequate arms and ammunition, personnel motivation, poor funding of the NPF, failure of members of the public to volunteer reliable information to the police due to lack of confidence and fear of repercussion were other challenges faced by the police, which make it difficult for them to take the battle to criminal elements.
Criminal groups bankroll members into NPF- Akpan, activist
Human rights activist and Director of Community Policing Partners, (COMPPART), Mr. Saviour Akpan believes that police problem in measuring up to societal demand in fighting crimes, and banditry are multifaceted. “First is at the recruitment level where people bribe their way into the organization, thus making it possible for criminally minded individuals and gangs to sponsor themselves and their gang members into the organization.
“This has affected the Police Force seriously because such ones do not join the force out of patriotism, but to use the force to achieve their intentions, including serving as informants to the criminally- oriented organization that sponsored or bankrolled their recruitment.
“Secondly, the effect of conflicts entrepreneurs sponsoring most of the operations of the force and the resistance to change that may have been brought about by the organization based on societal dynamics due to what such entrepreneurs tend to get from the status quo.
“Thirdly and very important is the bastardization and politicization of community policing and poor crime information management system within the police, which have eroded public confidence and alienated communities and their members from the organization.
“Lack of public trust and confidence in the police due to high-handedness and draconian policing policies that are more reactive than proactive are detrimental to effective policing of multicultural, multi-ethnic and over religious society like Nigeria.
”Note that it is not the responsibility of the Police to implement Community Policing, rather police should be seen as partners in the implementation of such when it is organized by the community based on their cultural sensibilities and values,” he said.
”Therefore, the current practice where the current Police Leadership is “recruiting” Community members for community policing is illegal and unacceptable.”
In his brief contribution, Mr. Etifit Nkereuwem, President, Oro Youth Movement, said: ”The NPF is an integral part of Nigerian federation filled with clueless, unpatriotic and selfish leaders. Corruption, impunity, greed, and abuse of power is affecting the police. No motivation, no proper funding and necessary equipment.”
Everything about police need restructuring – Ibor, lawyer/activist
Cross-River lawyer, activist and Principal Counsel, Basic Rights Initiative Council, James Ibor Esq., said: “Police is grossly underfunded and there is need to take a cursory look into all that concerns them, including welfare. The whole structure of the police needs a complete shakeup, there is need for proper re engineering of the Nigerian Police Force in terms of its tactics and more.”
“The need for reorientation in a bid to gain public trust is important. A major challenge is lack of information from the public. In most cases they refuse to inform police of certain things because of lack of trust. There have been cases same police implicated informants. The police need to be well paid.
“Their response time is very poor because they lack logistics. They are not spirits, they are human beings. Most of their gadgets are broken down, no walk y-talkies that can record message, we are still backward in terms of technology and if we do not overhaul the system, criminals we keep on over running and subduing them.
“Sometimes, not that the firepower from criminals is higher, but they think of their families, poor insurance policies, then they retreat because they too are human beings .
Some officers patrol on foot because there are no vehicles – C’River PPRO
On her part, one of Public Relations Officers in South South in Cross,River Command, said: “Our major problem is logistics and we barely have operational vehicles. I can tell you that in some areas, police carry out patrols on foot. How do you expect us to deliver optimal services to tax payers in this situation?
“Our officers and men are human beings too, even though it is their duty to protect lives and property, they must be well equipped to do so. I cannot say we are under staffed or not capable of doing the job of policing effectively, we can, but we need the help of the public in terms of giving us reliable and timely information.
“We are proactive, we neither wait for the criminals to strike first nor wait for the crime to occur. We like to nip it in the bud.
“Most of the vehicles we have are more than 15 years old, the level of support we have in this area is really not encouraging. Vehicles help our operation, how can you chase an armed robber or criminal on foot while he is in a fast moving vehicle.
“Many of the vehicles we use were donated or bought during the time of former governor. We we are really handicapped in this aspect and logistics are key in all our operations.
Bitter truth from anonymous police officer
A Chief Superintendent of Police in Cross River told Saturday Vanguard that the police in Cross River and beyond have common challenges that make criminals seem to have an upper hand during operations.
“Logistics, terrain /geography, motivation and funding could be a big challenge in crime bursting and fighting. If all these things are put in place we will have the most efficient police in this part of the world.
“Most terrains like Cross River is large in terms of landscape, but as professionals we know how to man the areas effectively because we are trained to do so. But when we are not well paid and welfare not taken care of, the morale will be low, which invariably affects output.
“I have been head in different stations, most times, I fix the vehicles with my personal money and I have not been able to get my money back. Most of the operational vehicles we use were bought as far as year 2000 during the time of Donald Duke.
“So many stations do not have Hilux and other operational vehicles. How can they respond to the public during distress calls. Sometimes you find out that response time can be up to 60 minutes because there is no fuel in the vehicle or it cannot start and you cannot carry out operations without a vehicle that is in good condition.
“We need huge funding, we need good remuneration to boost morale, it serves as motivation. We need good coverage in terms of insurance because when you know that if anything happens to you, your family will be properly taken care of, you will give your best, you will put in your all and everything to protect the tax payers at all cost.
“Police are not magicians if we are properly funded, we will deliver optimum policing ,logistics is the backbone of our success ,it is the hallmark of all that we do ,we need training and retraining ,it would shock to know that we can be the best in the world because many who have left the shore of Nigeria to other countries come out tops.
“Recruitment is another major challenge because of gender sensitivity, many of the personnel are now women ,the number of men, who should man flash points are gradually reducing ,if it has to with arms and ammunition , hardware ,we have enough, but women cannot do what men can do no matter the training, there is still a huge difference.
“We are not saying that there are no exceptional female officers in the field, but we are saying that men are naturally more efficient in this category .Most times, the state armory is well loaded, but there are few hands , so we need more people in the system ,We need more hands in the area of recruitment .“Also, proper training and retraining too will help ,the criminals are not better trained than us, but we lack logistics ,we lack motivation ,we need to be properly funded ,money budgeted for police should be used judiciously. It should not be used to play politics ,it should be completely used for what it is meant for,” he concluded.