Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The police in Bayelsa State may have been overwhelmed by recent rise in crimes in the state, even as some hoodlums have again invaded Ayakoro community in Ogbia Council, kidnapping the wife of the paramount ruler, Righteous Inegbagha, identified as Tina.
Also forcibly taken away to a yet unknown location was the Principal of the Government Craft Development Centre, Ayakoro, Mr. Egbele Jack, who hails from Ekeremor local government area of the state.
At least seven persons have been shot in different locations in the state in the last two weeks, with the police seemingly helpless and the Police Commissioner, Amba Asuquo, blaming the rise in crime on the proliferation of small arms.
During the latest incident, the hoodlums were said to have struck the community at about 2:00 a.m armed with three AK47 rifles, machetes and other weapons, before looting properties and other valuables worth millions of naira and taking away their victims.
One of the sons of the paramount ruler, who narrated his ordeal, said he was beaten to a pulp by the hoodlums when he accosted the hoodlums.
â€œWhen they came in through the window, they were asking of my father. I told them, he travelled but they asked me to take them to where he kept his money. I told them, I was not aware of any money in the house.
â€œThey descended on me and started beating me mercilessly with machetes. My mother heard their voices and unknowingly came out. They seized and asked her to take them to my fatherâ€™s room.
â€œThey ransacked the room, scattered documents and searched for money. They carried a generator in and took my mother away. They threatened to shoot me if I move to stop them,â€ he said.
Ironically, the upsurge in crime rate coincides with the donation of several security gadgets and scores of security patrol vans by the state government and the revamping of Dor-Akpo, a special security outfit.
But Asuquo said yesterday that his men were on top of the security situation in the state while parading a cache of arms recovered from suspected criminals operating in different parts of the state.
He was however, silent on whether there had been any breakthrough on the killers of four cattle dealers, shooting of an AIT reporter, suspected assassination of a former Commissioner in the state, murder of a prince in Ekeki and killing of a local maritime unionist in Akassa area of the state, all in the last two weeks.
The CP said About 66 different rifles, 105 of 7.62mm ammunition, one dynamite, 190 cartridges, 12.9mm ammunition, 40 locally-made pistols, five locally-made double barrel guns, 11 pump action guns, three revolver pistols, one K2 rifle and four AK47 rifles had recently been recovered by his men.
Amba, who described the haul of arms as alarming, condemned the increasing unlawful possession of firearms.
He said within the year, the police arrested 561 suspects, adding that 107 suspects were nabbed for unlawful possession of firearms, 29 cases were under investigations, 30 filed for legal advice at the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and 13 had been charged to court.
Amba, who called for a special intervention to curb circulation of illegal firearms, noted that 177 cases of armed robberies were reported to the police, leading to arrest of 241 suspects.