INSECURITY AT ITS PEAK: NIGERIA AT THE MERCY OF KIDNAPPERS, BANDITS, CULTISTS AND TERRORISTS


•Delta community attacked, man killed, wife abducted, daughter injured
•Gang sacks Benue community, as cult war claims pharmacist, four others
•Gunmen kidnap another victim at Onicha-Olona, demand N15m ransom
•Cultists invade Delta police formation, 7 arrested
•IGP disbands Zonal Intervention Squad in Ogun over footballer’s killing
•We won’t tolerate killings from Police – Gbajabiamila

By Festus Ahon, Peter Duru, Tordue Salem & James Ogunnaike

THE stormy wind of insecurity blowing across the country continued, yesterday, as suspected gunmen attacked Issele-Azagba, a community in Aniocha North Local Government Area, Delta State, killing one man, abducting his wife, and injuring his daughter.

Also, suspected herdsmen kidnapped one Ashioma Omeh at Isele-Uku, Aniocha North Local Government Area of the state.

Elsewhere in Benue, scores of residents of Agila community in Ado Local Government Area, LGA, of Benue were sacked from their homes by alleged armed militia gang from Ngbo in Ohaukwu LGA of neighbouring Ebonyi State.

This was as a pharmacist (name withheld), and four others were reportedly hacked to death in a bloody cult war currently raging in Ugbokolo town, Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.

Meanwhile, following the death of a Remo Stars Football Club player, Tiyamiyu Kazeem, the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, yesterday, disbanded the Zonal Intervention Squad.

How gunmen killed man, abducted wife in Delta

Vanguard gathered that the gunmen who stormed Issele-Azagba community Sunday night, attacked the residence of the yet-to-be unidentified man, shot sporadically, killed the man and left the daughter with injuries.

According to a source from the palace of the traditional ruler of the community, HRM Francis Ijieh, the gunmen operated unchallenged for hours until a team of policemen came around midnight, after the invaders had disappeared with the wife of the deceased, said to be an Urhobo man.

The source said the injured girl had been taken to the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, for treatment.

Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO,  Delta State Command, Onome Onovwakpoyeya, said the police were on the trail of the criminals with the aim of also rescuing the kidnapped woman.

Also, suspected herdsmen kidnapped one Ashioma Omeh at Isele-Uku.

Mother of the victim, Mrs Maureen Omeh, who runs a private school in Onitsha-Olona in Aniocha North Local Council of Delta State, said the abductors are demanding N15 million ransom to release her son.

She disclosed that the armed men accosted her son at about noon on his way to Issele-Uku, in his SUV, and took him away.

Pleading with the kidnappers to spare him, she said: “It took place on Saturday afternoon, and the vigilante group, the Divisional Police Officer and all relevant agencies are working to ensure the safe return of my son.”

At press time yesterday, the local vigilante group and the police were combing the forests for the victim. Efforts to get police comment on the matter were yet to bear result.

Cultists invade Delta police formation, 7 arrested

Meanwhile, a group of suspected cultists, yesterday morning, reportedly invaded the base of ‘Operation Safe Delta’, a formation of the Delta State Police Command in Issele-Asagba, near Asaba, attempting to free one of their detained members.

The suspected cultists who were reported to be members of Vikings confraternity, stormed the police base in over 15 cars but were overpowered by the Police.

The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hafiz Inuwa, confirmed the incident, saying seven of the cultists were arrested with arms.

Inuwa said those arrested confessed that they invaded the command of Operation Safe Delta to rescue one of their members.

Armed militia from Ebonyi sacks Benue community

In Benue, hundred of residents of Agila community in Ado Local Government Area,were sacked from their homes allegedly by an armed militia gang from Ngbo in Ohaukwu LGA of Ebonyi State.

Vanguard gathered that the gang stormed the community bordering Benue and Ebonyi states early Monday, shooting sporadically and chasing the people from their homes into neighbouring villages and bushes.

“As we speak, most parts of Agila have been deserted, while the secondary school in the community, GSS Agila, was almost razed but for the quick intervention of the youths who take turns daily to barricade the school from the invaders.

“Even the Catholic church in the community, St. Peters’ Catholic Church, came under attack and some people who took refuge there fled for their lives,” he said.

Confirming the development, parish priest of St. Peters’ Catholic Church, Agila, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Onoja, said: “There was heavy shooting in the church. Since the crisis started, this is the first time, I am experiencing this. They even wrote an inscription on the wall telling Agila people to depart the land.

“They nearly killed a young man who was farming behind the church. I called the Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu, who promised that government will send soldiers to the area but as I speak to you nothing has been done. We are living in fear. Several persons have deserted the area and fled for safety.”

Council Chairman of Ado LGA, Mr. James Oche, decried the incessant attack on the people of Agila by Ngbo militia.

Oche accused the Ngbo people of attempting to frustrate the boundary demarcation between Benue and Ebonyi states as well as Enugu and Benue states.

His words: “This is the second attack in a week. They attacked Government Secondary School, Agila and a Catholic church. Though, there are no casualties but basically, they are carrying out these attacks to frustrate the Federal Government’s effort at re-beaconing the Benue/Enugu and Benue/Ebonyi boundaries, that is the motive.”

Efforts to get the reaction of the Benue State Acting Governor, Mr. Benson Abounu, who is the Chairman, Benue State Boundary Committee, failed as he did not respond to calls or reply text messages sent to his phone.

The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Deputy Superintendent, DSP, Catherine Anene, said she was yet to receive details of the incident.

Pharmacist, four others killed in Benue bloody cult war

In a related development, a pharmacist, and four others  were reportedly hacked to death in a bloody cult war currently raging in Ugbokolo town, Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.

Vanguard gathered from sources that the clashes had created panic among residents of the town with the roads and business places deserted.

According to the source, the crisis started on Monday afternoon after a member of the black cult was allegedly killed by members of the red cult, injuring several others.

“The killing sparked the revenge by members of the black cult who went about hacking any person identified as being a member of the red cult.

“They killed one of their victims on the expressway, the pharmacists who owned a very large pharmaceutical shop opposite the Catholic church in Ugbokolo town just less than 500 meters from the Police Station was also killed.

“They killed two others near the Polytechnic in the town and yesterday morning, one other was killed in the town. And as we speak, the attacks are still going on and if nothing urgent is done by security agencies, the clashes will claim more lives,” the source said.

Contacted, the Caretaker Chairman of Okpokwu LGA, Mrs. Amina Audu, confirmed the development, saying she had reported the matter to relevant security agencies, the Security Adviser to the Governor and the vigilante group in the area.

“I received information that four persons were killed on Monday and one other was killed Tuesday morning (yesterday) but security has been beefed up in Ugbokolo to forestall further clashes,” she said.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Deputy Superintendent, DSP, Catherine Anene, said the command had recorded four deaths in the clashes.

“The Divisional Police Officer, DPO, has also asked for reinforcement and we have deployed to the area. I can assure you that the situation is under control,” Anene said.

IGP disbands Zonal Intervention Squad over footballer’s death

Similarly, following the death of a Remo Stars Football Club player, Tiyamiyu Kazeem, the IGP Muhammed Adamu, yesterday, disbanded the Zonal Intervention Squad.

Adamu spoke through the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Criminal Investigations Department Force Headquarters, Peter Ogunyanwo, when he accompanied Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, on a condolence visit to the parents of the deceased in Sagamu.

The IG said the disbandment followed Tiyamiyu’s death in the hands of operatives of the Zonal Intervention Squad, Obada-Oko in Ogun State.

Ogunyanwo noted that the ZIS office would be handed over to Ogun State Police Command.

He also disclosed that a Police Inspector indicted in the matter had been dismissed, while other officers were under investigation.

The DIG, who noted that the death of Kazeem would prompt the Police Force to carry out more reforms, maintained that all officers involved in the circumstances that led to the death of the footballer had been arrested.

He said the ZIS operatives were on illegal duty and did not obtain clearance from the Police formation in Sagamu before they arrested the deceased.

Pledging that full investigation would be carried out to bring those involved to justice, Ogunyanwo promised that police would do everything possible to purge itself of “trigger-happy elements.”

Earlier, Governor Abiodun said every instrument of government available would be used to unearth the circumstances of the killing and crisis that engulfed Sagamu.

Abiodun, who was also accompanied on the condolence visit by the Commissioner of Police in Ogun State, Kenneth Ebrimson, and the State Director of Department of State Services, Mr. David Tuska, pleaded with Sagamu residents not to take laws into their hands, noting that “the future of the state would be secured when people eschew violence and go about their businesses in a lawful manner.”

Lawmakers ‘ll no longer tolerate killings by Nigerian Police –  Gbajabiamila

Reacting to the footballer’s killing in Sagamu, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, warned, yesterday, that lawmakers would no longer condone extra-judicial killings by personnel of the Nigeria Police Force.

The speaker issued the warning at a public hearing on “Repositioning the Nigerian Police For Enhanced Service Delivery,” organized by the House Committee on Police Affairs.

The speaker lamented that though the Police were the closest law enforcement agency to the public, several arbitrary killings from the force, had marred partnership between the two sides, recalling with lamentation the killing of Kazeem.

“More than any other institution of the state, it is the police force that relates to the citizens daily. In many communities across Nigeria, the Police Force is the only representative of the Nigerian state, and the connection between our citizens and the state is often defined by their interactions with the Nigerian Police.

“It is unfortunate and entirely unacceptable that the relationship between the police and many of these communities is now defined by fear, mutual antagonism and an absolute loss of faith in the ability of the police to protect and to serve.

“In the last few days, we have all witnessed as the city of Sagamu in Ogun State has been unsettled by an orgy of violence resulting from the extra-judicial killing of a young footballer by officers of the Nigerian Police. Citizens who gathered to protest this killing soon found themselves at the receiving end of police bullets,” he stated.

Gbajabiamila also cited several other cases of police brutality, warning that the House has had enough.

“This is not an isolated incident. We are daily inundated with news reports of interactions between citizens and the police, resulting in the injury and death of those citizens.

“Reports of police harassment of young people have become so rampant that they barely even break through the news cycle, except when public anger becomes so great that it results in a breakdown of law and order.

“We can no longer stand this, and we will not. This House of Representatives has a responsibility to speak for our citizens and we will continue to do so even when it is inconvenient.

“The first responsibility of the state to its citizens is to protect life and property. Everything else flows from this fundamental obligation,” adding that “when the agencies we rely on to serve this purpose become predatory, they lose the faith of the public and become incapable of delivering on this responsibility,” he said.

Minister fingers poor remuneration, others

In his submission at the hearing, the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Muhammad Dingyadi, blamed the lapses in policing in Nigeria on poor remuneration, inadequate personnel and equipment.

He said a Police force “with only 350,000 police officers to a population of over 200 million people, cannot effectively police the country.”

Though he pledged re-orientation of the force for more effective policing of the country, he also decried an acute lack of basic tools for effective service delivery.

Earlier, the Chairman of the House Committee on Police Affairs, Rep. Umar Kumo (APC-Gombe), complained of  poor civilian-police relations, blaming the Police for their negative perception and attitude to an average citizen.

Vanguard

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