By Ndubuisi Ugah
The recent upsurge in criminal activities in Edo State is said to be part of an elaborate scheme orchestrated by the leadership of the Police Command in the state, with support from the Police high command and some elements in the presidency, investigations have revealed.
This emerged on a day the state Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, warned that the state would not be forced by criminal elements and organised crime overlords to the negotiation table, stressing that law and order, as well as the liberty of the ordinary law-abiding citizens and residents, were not for sale. Recall that there has been a rise in high profile kidnapping in the state in recent time, with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ogba Zoo, Mr. Andy Ehanire; popular musician, Osayomore Joseph, and a Catholic priest, Rv. Fr. Lawrence Adorolo, abducted by unknown gunmen.
A lecturer at the University of Benin, Prof. Paul Otasowie, was also killed early this week. Though the priest has been released, the whereabouts of Ehanire and Osayomore is still unknown. It was gathered that the top hierarchy of the Edo Police command is either complicit in the growing insecurity or are compromised and providing cover for a ring of organised criminals, who are working to undermine the state government.
The organised criminal network is said to be taking advantage of the ‘lax’ police command to wreck mayhem in the state. This is as there are subsisting allegations of widespread corruption at the state Police Command with its leadership accused of running the command as ‘a business centre,’ with ‘delivery targets’ set for Divisional Police Officers (DPOs).
It was also learnt that the Police Service Commission (PSC), in July, deployed former Commissioner of Police, Armament, Johnson Kokumo, to head the Edo State Command, but the incumbent, CP Haliru Gwandu, has held tightly to the position, in violation of the PSC’s posting. Curiously, CP Garba Umar, who was deployed from Bayelsa State to Anambra State at the same time as CP Kokumo, who was deployed to Edo Command, has since resumed in Anambra State.
It was gathered that efforts by Obaseki to influence adherence to the transfer notice so as to pave way for a new security template in the state proved abortive, as the effort was rebuffed by both the commissioner and the IGP, who by the action suggests that the PSC lacks the power to effect the transfer of police officers. It was gathered that when efforts to prevail on the CP to vacate the position for the newly deployed commissioner failed, moves were made to get the IGP, Ibrahim Idris, and the presidency to act on the matter.
“Since July till date, nothing has happened. And we are beginning to suspect that something is amiss. For the CP to remain at his post even after the Police Service Commission has posted him out of the command, it only means he has the backing of the IGP, who has also not done anything to get the CP to heed the directive. “Recently, Obaseki embarked on a trip to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, with the aim of persuading him to prevail on the IG to honour the posting carried out by the PSC, which is yet to yield any fruits.
“By these turn of events, Edo People and the state’s operating environment are now at the mercy of these criminals,” a reliable source, who sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said. It was learnt that members of the dislodged organised criminal network in Edo State, who were upstaged when the Obaseki administration stopped them from intimidating and extorting money from innocent Edo people, have now taken advantage of the laxity of Gwandu to perpetrate crimes.
To heighten tension in the state, the criminal overlords, it was learnt, conscripted social media influencers to lead a campaign against the government in the hope that outrage over increased criminal activity would force the government to negotiate for a return to the old order. Meanwhile, Obaseki, who called on Edo people to remain calm but vigilant, noted that an elaborate scheme was being finalised to rein in the orchestrators of the recent violence, bring them to justice and restore sustainable peace and safety in the state. He said: “Edo people, the majority of whom are law-abiding, should be rest assured that the promises to restore sanity to the state have been fulfilled.
GOVERNOR GODWIN OBASEKI