By Tijani Labaran
The invasion of security formations and killing of personnel, including kidnapping of innocent citizens for ransom is becoming a recurring decimal in Kogi State.
The latest attack on Adavi Police Station where the state police command lost three of its gallant officers, named Inspector Musa Jacob, Inspector Daniel Amadi and Sgt Ishaya Mandos, was another of such sad days for the command. The three officers who were part of the Quick Response Unit of the state command were deployed to Kogi Central on a special assignment but lost their lives in the process.
Previously, hoodlums operating in the guise of armed robbers, bandits and kidnappers have invaded police facilities in Kabba, Isanlu, Odo Ere, Okene and Egbe in the west and central districts of the state and unleashed terror. In one of such attacks on the divisional police stations in Isanlu, the headquarters of Yagba West Local Government Area in 2020, the command allegedly lost eight of its officers to the bullets of a smoking robbery gang. Also, in December 2021, a group of gunmen struck in Egbe and Odo Ere communities in the Yagba West LGA and destroyed a police station, killing a police officer and three residents in the process.
While police authorities stated that the attacks on the west district was primarily for pecuniary purpose, those terrorising central district area appear to be on a different mission other than financial enrichment. Banks, shops and Point of Service (POS) in the west flank have been under lock and key to give credence to the claim of police authorities.
However, according to reliable sources, the attack on the Okene divisional police station and the recent one on Adavi police facility were said to be a reprisal attack which may not be unconnected with faith, politics and terrorism. For instance, it was said the three operatives of the special squad who were killed by the assailants’ bullets in front of Adavi police station were on a special assignment, preparing to move out at a certain hour of the day the hoodlums struck.
Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that the hoodlums did not limit their attack to police posts but extended their macabre operation to roads and residences where motorists and innocent citizens were abducted and ransom placed on them. The unfortunate situation in the state is said to have drawn its life from the proximity of the state to the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) Abuja, which ten states use as transit route to the capital of the country.
Citizen Goodman Akwu, an activist and community leader as well as chairman of Uja Ache Igala nation, stated that the era of waiting for criminals to strike before action is taken is over. He said security agents must toe the line of best practices by carrying the battle to criminal hideouts rather than waiting for them at highways.
“These criminals have a base, hide outs where they plot. Use your intelligence system and move in there before they strike. Stop-and-check system is old, and not effective in proper management of criminals in modern society,” he said.
He added that Anyigba-Ajegwu-Itobe Road which links the eastern of the country to Abuja and northern part of the country has become commuters’ nightmare and the police need to mount heavy surveillance that will involve communities along that route.
Daily Trust on Sunday observed that the activities of the hoodlums have heightened in the state, with roads increasingly becoming unsafe and looming uncertainty as families fear being abducted from their homes. It was noted that payment of ransom is no longer a guarantee for one’s freedom from captivity.
Recently, Mr. Ojonimi Ossai, an oil worker with Shell Petroleum Development Company Ltd, died in the hands of his abductors after N5m was allegedly paid for his freedom. Also, Adam Okpanachi, the son of APC chairman of Omalla LGA was killed, after N2m was paid to his abductors. Also, a 39-year-old Kano businessman, Yahaya Hassan Musa, had paid N6m ransom, but was equally killed in Kabba forest.
The latest was Joshua Musa, a 47-year-old man, who was reportedly killed by his abductors in Gegu-Beki Chiefdom of the Kotonkarfe area of Kogi State after his abductors collected N750,000 ransom.
In the face of the perceived helplessness, the Kogi State Police Command has stressed that it was working to ensure that the hoodlums tormenting the state and its residents are brought to book. The command, which dismissed the allegations of seeming lacklustre performance noted that the challenge appeared mounting but is conquerable.
According to the state Commissioner of Police, Edward Egbuka, the command needs Kogites, particularly, traditional rulers, religious leaders, youth groups and other stakeholders to achieve the desired results. CP Egbuka, who said the command was in synergy with sister security agencies, has directed Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers, as well as Tactical Commanders to ensure adequate security of lives and property in their respective areas of responsibilities.
Giving further clarification, the command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP William Aya, has been charged to carry out intensive patrol along the major highways and intelligence led-operation. He said the CP has undertaken a tour of the three districts and sensitized stakeholders in that direction.
“In the course of the CP’s patrol, he met Fulani leaders, monarchs of the various areas, local hunters, vigilante and various youths and women groups and sensitized them on the importance of synergy in the battle against hoodlums in the state,” he said.
SP Aya, who said the latest assault by hoodlums on police formation is being investigated, assured that the perpetrators of the crime will be tracked and made to face the law.
Corroborating the state Police Command’s resolve, the Adavi Council chairman, Mr. Joseph Omuya Salami, charged Adavi citizens and residents to assist security agencies with intelligence to ease their undercover work.
Equally, the chairman of the state Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr Simeon Omakoji Oyiguh, bemoaned the spate of kidnapping, saying that five of his members were abducted in the past one and half year. He said kidnappers had targeted his members on the belief that doctors are rich, stressing that they have to form a kidnapping protocol committee to gather intelligence and to monitor their environment.