The tragic killing of Bako Angbashim, a Deputy Police Officer who was beheaded in Ahoada, Rivers State, has once again laid bare the grave danger law enforcement officers face in a country gradually going rogue. There is something about Rivers State that frightens even neutrals. Beyond the wild eccentricities of Nyesom Wike who was recently governor of the state for eight years, there is the fact that the state sits square in the heart of the Niger Delta.

For anyone familiar with the Nigerian story, the Niger Delta has long held a haunting place in Nigerian lore. Rich and prodigiously blessed with crude oil which is easily one of nature’s most precious gifts, the region has for years experienced what it is like to live in a country that is as chaotic as it is unsafe. The Niger Delta region has produced the oil that has powered Nigeria’s stuttering economic advancement, yet it has suffered criminal neglect. The neglect has seeped into spores, polluting its rivers, fouling its air and sickening its people. As a people’s gift has tragically become their curse, they have responded with militancy manifested in acts that are as criminal as they are about sending a message.

It started with kidnapping, and full-fledged economic sabotage, before quickly becoming organized and morphing into full-fledged militancy. It took an uneasy truce reached with the federal government for the vicious attacks on Nigeria’s national assets to subside. But for all its stellar gifts, Rivers State remains high on tension and crime. Cultists, oil thieves and every other kind of crime imaginable call the state home.

For Bako Angbashim, an indigene of Nasarawa State who was serving his country in a state he had called home for years, death was always lurking around the corner. In a country where inefficiency and ineptitude are flagrantly extolled, where criminals are brutally efficient, the superintendent of police had acquired a reputation for pristine professionalism,  endearing himself to the people in the process. So, he had to be killed, in a way to send a message. He was not just killed but beheaded.

The gallant officer’s death was staged in such a manner as to mock Nigeria and send out the message that criminals can toy with those who defend the country.

It begs the question: If a police officer can be decapitated with so much savagery, what is the fate of ordinary everyday Nigerians?

Security agencies has declared someone wanted for the gruesome murder. It remains to be seen how long it will take before he is made to face the law. But before he is caught, before all those who commit grievous crimes against Nigerians are caught, serious measures must be taken to improve the security of those who keep Nigeria safe.

While efforts must continue to rid Nigeria of bad eggs, collaboration between communities and security agents must pick up pace to ensure that more communities like Ahoada are not turned into a hiding place for the criminals.

Ike Willie-Nwobu,

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