After 3 policemen are killed, minister’s brother kidnapped
Governor Obaseki storms Abuja to vent frustrations
BY SIMON EBEGBULEM, Benin-city
The killings and kidnapping in Edo State, particularly the state capital, Benin –City, in the last two months, is creating tension. The situation is so scary that night life is dead in the state capital. Armed robbers operate freely, especially in Ekenwa, Upper Sakpoba, Siluko and some parts of Airport Road. Over 25 persons have been killed by armed bandits in Benin – City during the period under review.
Penultimate week, the Director and Chief Executive of the Ogba Zoo and Nature Park, Dr. Andy Ehanire, was abducted by gunmen. Ehanire is the brother to the Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire. Sadly in that operation, three policemen were killed by the gunmen who also carted away their arms and ammunition. As of the time of filing this report, Ehanire was yet to be released by the captors.
Ace musician, Osayomore Joseph, seized by suspected kidnappers while his wife was shot, is also still missing. And barely 48 hours after Joseph was abducted, a lecturer at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Prof Paul Otasowie, was shot dead by unknown assailants. Meanwhile, residents are worried about the seeming poor response of the police to the situation.
But Edo State Police Command, through its spokesman, DSP Moses Nkombe, said the police were doing all they could to arrest the situation, adding that three persons had been arrested in connection with the killing of the UNIBEN professor.
In a related development, stakeholders are calling on Governor Godwin Obaseki to arrest the situation. Obaseki had shortly after the abduction of Ehanire promised to travel to Abuja to discuss the security situation in the state with the Federal Government. The Action Democratic Party (ADP), through its state chairman, Prince Gabriel Oloruntobi, welcomed the efforts of the governor to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the security situation in Edo and appealed that the military be deployed to complement the efforts of the police to stem crime in the state.
Tongues are wagging as to the cause of the resurgence of kidnapping and armed robbery in the state. Obaseki had banned Community Development Associations (CDAs). It is believed that aggrieved members of the CDAs, in collaboration with those opposed to the government of the day, may have been fighting the system. Analysts say it is obvious when the killings and abductions in Benin-City are carried out weeks to the governor’s first year anniversary which comes up in November.
Though the state Police Commissioner, Haliru Gwandu, continues to reiterate his commitment to fighting crime in Edo, many people believe that with the current situation, his efforts are not enough. Sunday Vanguard learnt, however, that Obaseki, who was frustrated by the upsurge in crime in the state, actually travelled to Abuja to discuss the security situation with the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and the Presidency after he sensed a plot to scare investors away from Edo.
It was learnt that one of the key issues raised by the governor during the Abuja visit was that the Police Service Commission had in July approved the redeployment of four Commissioners of Police in four states including that of Edo, who was replaced by Johnson Kokumo, the Commissioner of Police Armament.
The governor, who reportedly wondered why the change had not been effected, was said to have lamented that it was disrupting his plan to ensure security for the people of the state. It was further gathered that after expressing his frustration with state Police Command as presently constituted, Obaseki called on his party (All Progressives Congress) leaders to come to the aid of the state.
Sources said the governor intended to inject more funds into the system to secure the state but would do so with a leadership that could prudently manage the money.
The situation, Sunday Vanguard was told, is creating bad blood between the current leadership of the Police Command in Edo and the state government which led to the failure to harmonize the strategies to curb rising crime in the state. Leaders of the ruling APC in the state were said to be wondering why the Federal Government, also controlled by the party, had been slow to act after efforts made by the governor to let them see reason on why the new Police Commissioner, Kokumo, deployed to the state, should be allowed to resume urgently.
The people of the state now live in fear as nobody knows who will be killed or abducted next. Business premises in Benin – City that should boom in the night now close as early as 7pm just as analysts say if the situation continues, it was capable of killing the economy of Edo. And that, according to the analysts, will be a sad situation for Obaseki who already is bringing in investors in different sectors to beef the economy of Edo. The President of the Benin National Congress (BNC), Aiyemenkhue Edokpolo, lamented that “it has been long we experienced this type of scary security situation in the state”.
He added, “This is like the return of the bad days in Edo. As we speak, two of our sons, Osayomore and Mr Ehanire, are still with their abductors while many of our people are being assassinated or robbed on daily basis. It is really a sad commentary. If you go round Benin – City, you will find out that once it is 7pm, everybody goes home.
But we are wondering why the Federal Government is yet to come to our aid despite the fact that the governor here belongs to the APC which is the ruling party at the federal level. We are still appealing that they help Governor Obaseki to find solution to the security situation in the state. The Federal Government can even deploy soldiers to help so that the achievements made so far by their party the APC in Edo will not be rubbished by criminals”.