Thursday, 25 September 2008

Harvest Of Criminals

Police in Abia State make a huge haul in their fight against criminals in the state

By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

Perhaps the decision of the Abia State Police Command to occasionally carry out raids on brothels and drinking joints during working hours is helping in the command's fight against crime. So far, about 40 suspects have been arrested by the police in the last one month for crimes ranging from armed robbery, pipeline vandalism and kidnapping. The suspects include Christopher Okeke and Emeka Nwafor who were arrested while negotiating for the sale of a Nissan Sunny vehicle with registration number DW871 PHC suspected to have been stolen. Also arrested were Samuel Okafor, Chibunna Nwaobasi and Uchenna Osuagwu. They were arrested by a team of detectives at Central Police Station, CPS, Aba, led by the Divisional Crime Officer 2 of the station, ASP Titus Ugwoke following a tip off. Items recovered from their hideout include three locally-made pistols, 19 live cartridges and one expended cartridge, some quantities of wrapped weed, suspected to be Indian Hemp, one long machete, one long cutter, a pair of big scissors and other personal effects.

Five suspected kidnappers who attempted to kidnap a popular medical practitioner in Abia state, Dr. Chidozie Ezuma of University Teaching Hospital, Aba were also nabbed. Dr. Ezuma who managed to escape their custody was able to identify one of his kidnappers, Chinonso Owunna who later led the police to arrest two other suspects, Ifeanyi Allison and Onyekachi Ajuzieogu. The arrested suspects were former house-helps of the victim. Also, one Obed Dike who attempted to kidnap the chairman of Ukwa East local government, Chief Nwaji Sylvania was arrested at the premises of the council.

Ikechukwu Nwogu and Ikechukwu Ohaeri, suspected pipeline vandals were arrested at Umuchichi village in Osisioma local government with a Mitsubishi L300 bus with registration number XB 113 BND.

One Obinna Nwankwo described as “a notorious armed robber” who specializes in robbing people along Aba-Port Harcourt expressway was arrested by the joint team of the anti-robbery and Abia state security service but his gang upon sighting the team fled. Also arrested with him are his mother, Mrs. Nnenna Nwankwo and brother, Mr. Ndubuisi Nwankwo for alleged conspiracy. A locally-made double-barrel riffle with two live cartridges, a hammer, a Hiace bus with registration number XS538 ENU and a Mercedes Benz 230 were recovered from the suspects.

Another gallant feat was recorded later. An escort team comprising about 18 Police Mobile Force personnel was escorting a bullion van loaded with several millions of naira when they were attacked at Ugba junction, along Port Harcourt-Enugu expressway by armed robbers. The joint patrol team of Aba Area Command led by one Major Chikezie was mobilised. A gun duel ensued between the patrol team and the robbers, which resulted in the death of two policemen attached to the patrol team. A Mitsubishi jeep with registration number AT 355 SSM, one long gas cylinder and one short gas cylinder, eleven expended AK47 ammunition and one sledge hammer were later recovered by the police from the suspect who escaped after the battle. Ogbusua Oleh, the Aba Area commander, said most of the suspects were arrested at the conception stage of their criminal activities, attributing this to the measures adopted by the command to occasionally raid drinking joints and brothels.

Despite the successes recorded by the police, incidences of kidnapping have remained a festering sore in Abia State. Even the N1 million offer by the state government to whoever that would provide useful information that could lead to the arrest of suspected kidnappers could not provide solution to the crime. Investigations by this magazine showed that political office holders, politicians and industrialists in the state are now living in fear and have instructed their relatives not to be making public appearances to reduce the chances of being kidnapped. Recently the council chairman of Obingwa local government was kidnapped when his convoy was attacked. The cahirman's driver, one Mr. Umunnakwe and a commercial motor cyclist, whose identity was not ascertained, died in the incident.

The people of the state want the state police command to double its effort towards arresting the situation. Dr. Marazere Ubani, a legal practitioner wants the police to invade the hideouts of the kidnappers to demobilise them. “If the police does not know their hideouts, they should gather intelligence report about these hideouts and invade them. This will enable them nip the activities of these kidnapers in the bud,” Dr. Ubani declared.

Emeka Ogbonna, president, Popular Participation Front, PPF, attributes the problem to what he called the fundamental defects of the society. “The Nigerian society is replete with fundamental defects. Such defects are unemployment and the brazen looting of public treasury. The government is paying lip service to these issues and the consequences are what we are witnessing,” he summed up.

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