Checkmating Bayelsa’s Hoodlums


Emmanuel Addeh writes that the recent arrest of suspected criminals and recovery of ammunition by the Bayelsa State Police Command appears to be raising confidence in the security agencies in the state

Perceived or real, Nigeria currently appears to be a huge security operations site. From the insurgency up North to the danger posed by the country’s ubiquitous herdsmen; from the menace called kidnapping to armed robbery, Africa’s most populous nation is not having it easy at the moment.

So also are the federating states which have had to grapple with several security challenges, worsened by the present economic crisis and its attendant consequences, including job losses, which again put pressure on security agencies.

In the last couple of weeks, some reports coming out of Bayelsa, though security agencies would not readily admit it, have indicated a rise in both violent and petty crimes in the state.

From the killing of a journalist, Famous Giobaro in his house on INEC Road in Yenagoa to the murder of a former Peoples Democratic Party’s Chairman, Mr. Pamo Hobobo to the fatal shooting of a policeman in front of Sagbama Police Station, also in Yenagoa, a few weeks ago, the tales of woe seemed to have continued.

And as is usual with rises in crime rates in Nigeria, the police, most times hobbled by ill-equipment, lack of motivation, inadequate training and systemic dysfunction have continued to take the flaks from the general public.

But penultimate Thursday the men in black in Bayelsa sang a song of triumph, even if too early, with what appeared to be a harvest of at least two dozen criminals who the police leadership in the state said had been terrorising residents.

Paraded were 24 suspected kidnappers, armed robbers and cultists who the security agents said had made the state capital uncomfortable for residents in the last two months.

Also recovered from the suspects were several arms and ammunition ranging from locally made pistols, live cartridges, battle axes, stolen phones and computers as well as a carjacked Toyota Camry vehicle.

Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Asuquo Amba, told newsmen that his command had reviewed its crime fighting strategy in the last couple of weeks, leading to the several successes that were achieved.

Part of the strategy, Amba said, was the intensification of patrols and surveillance, visibility policing and the encouragement of active participation of neighbourhood vigilante groups.

Among those arrested and paraded by the Police Commissioner were Asuka Nyrzedukpe, 25 and David Ovuru, 18 who allegedly kidnapped one Mrs. Miekumo Jonah in Akenpai, and one Ishmael Kelepre from Foropa community in Southern Ijaw, who masterminded the abduction of Mrs. Ikoli Munemune around Assemblies of God Road, Yenagoa.

Others currently in the police net are Opukeme Yague, 23; Kiese Moses; 20 who were said to have gone through the capital city dispossessing residents of their valuables.

Amba added that cases of cultists attacks in the state had been brought under control with the arrest of several of their members belonging mainly to the Greenlanders during a clash in Amassoma, Southern Ijaw.

Those apprehended in connection with cult activities during a raid in Okaki, included Marshal Enegesi, Ali Amatari, Funmi Shehu and Destiny Jerry. A single barrel, four round of cartridges and battle axes were recovered from them.

The police boss added that another cult group identified as Icelanders clashed at a burial ceremony in Foroama-Amassoma, leading to the arrest of Godwin Thompson, Michael Ongolo, Johnson Jonah, Royal Femo and Asari Ebikewonum, while several ammunition were recovered.

He said, One Ishmael Kelepre from Foropa community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state but residing at School Road Okutukutu in Yenagoa masterminded the kidnap of one Mrs. Ikiou Nathaniel Munemune of Assemblies of God Church Road, Agudama Epie,Yenagoa.

“The suspect was arrested on the 14 May 2017 at about 10a.m. at his residence. He confessed to the crime and stated that his partners are one Seco, surname unknown of Lobia community, Prince, surname unknown and one Wisdom Tuakumo, both of Ukubie Community.”

He listed others as Gbadakumo Yellow and Nana Fyneboy both of Azuzuama community, all in Southern Ijaw. “Efforts are on to intensify the arrest of the fleeing suspects,” he vowed.

Other members of the Greenlanders arrested while reportedly going for an operation were Raphael Geku, Keme Collins, and Daniel Okpotolomo, who the police said have confessed to the crime.

Among the suspects was one Emmanuel Tabofa, 25, a professional footballer with Bayelsa United, who was apprehended at Swali during a robbery operation while Abass Mohammed from Kogi and Akpan Abraham were also arrested in Yenagoa.

“Tabofa, who is a self confessed cultist and member of the notorious cult group known as Greenlanders was arrested Thursday morning while trying to attack traders at Swali Market.

“On sighting policemen, the suspects took to their heels and they were chased by policemen.

“One of the suspects was arrested with a locally made pistol and live cartridges. The other suspect has escaped and police have been on a manhunt for the fleeing suspect,” Amba said.

The Police Commissioner said the state Command had been mandated by the Inspector General of Police to make the state unattractive for kidnapping.

One Jeffery Nasamu, who the police said specialises in trailing and robbing unsuspecting bank customers in the capital city was also apprehended by the police.

The CP said contrary to rumours, Bayelsa was not under siege by the criminals, noting that his men would continue to ensure that crime rate in the state remain one of the lowest in the country.

“The state is not under siege as claimed by some tabloids. Bayelsa is one of the safest states in the country. There is no security gap. The command has intensified its effort in fighting crime.

“To this end, violent crimes have been reduced to the barest minimum and we believe through community participation, our proactive approach to policing will make Bayelsa the safest in the country,” he assured.

On crime taking place within the waterways, Amba noted that the refurbishment of the gunboats belonging to the command will soon commence.

“The IG has asked us to submit an audit of what we require to ensure that the creeks and riversides are well manned.

“Our gunboats will soon be repaired and the presence of the maritime police, our own marine police is also working. We are restoring the lost glory of that unit. Bayelsa is safe,” he added.

On the overcrowded cells in Bayelsa, he assured that he was working with the judicial system and the legal section of the police to ensure speedy and efficient prosecution of suspected criminals.