Police, DSS battle crime surge in Rivers
Residents of Rivers State, especially those residing in Port Harcourt, are worried at the recent upsurge in bank robbery and sundry crimes, including kidnapping and cultism.
Within two weeks, the state has recorded two bank robbery incidents, with one successfully executed while the second was foiled by the police.
In the Waterlines axis of Port Harcourt, four armed robbers swooped on officials of the Oyigbo Local Government Council. During the operation, the officials, two personal assistants to the council chairman, a police escort and the driver of the Tundra jeep conveying them, were shot dead by the rampaging robbers.
Eyewitnesses said the robbers had trailed their victims to the Waterlines branch of a new generation bank where they had gone to withdraw money.
“Nobody suspected any foul play. We saw the young men in a Toyota Corolla car as they parked very close to the bank, ostensibly waiting for their victims. As soon as their victims entered their car, the young men in the Toyota car followed them closely. The next thing we heard was sporadic gunshots. They first shot the police officer who was in front of the car, the driver and the rest before they took a bag from the car, which I suspected was the money they withdrew from the bank. They shot sporadically into the air and had their way through,” an eyewitness stated.
The second robbery incident, which took place on October 14, was foiled by the police and an undisclosed amount of money recovered from the suspects. Our reporter gathered that the bandits escaped and abandoned their vehicle when the police overpowered them.
Police operatives found about nine bags stacked with bundles of naira notes packed in a Lexus jeep. The money was taken to the command headquarters.
It was also said that a new generation bank was robbed in Trans Amadi area of Port Harcourt. Police source said the fleeing robbers, about seven in number, were fully armed and operated in two vehicles. The source said the robbers stormed the bank when members of staff were transferring the bags of money into a bullion van.
The police public relations officer, Rivers State command, DSP Almad Muhammad, who confirmed the story, said his men received a distress call few minutes after 5.00p.m. and responded swiftly. He said the suspected robbers abandoned their vehicle containing the cash and escaped with another vehicle.
In another development, gunmen in army uniform abducted five persons, including a male member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). The incident occurred last week Monday at the Government Secondary School, Agba-Ndele in Emohua Local Government Area of the state. Eyewitnesses said the kidnappers spent the night at the corps members’ lodge because the NYSC members in the community had deserted the area due to insecurity. An eyewitness said the kidnappers, about 10 in number, came from the corps members’ lodge.
“They first took the security guard, whose outcry attracted the attention of residents of the area. They thereafter went after the teachers, who scampered to safety alongside students. The kidnappers wore army uniform with masked faces. They took their victims to a nearby Somberoro River, from where they zoomed off through a waiting boat,” the eyewitness said.
The suspected kidnappers, at the weekend, established contact with the community and demanded a ransom of N25million. The Paramount ruler of Rumdele community, Eze Godwin Ohalusi, who spoke to reporters in Port Harcourt on the incident, said the community had no money to pay such amount of money the kidnappers demanded. He called on them to free their captors unconditionally.
The Department of State Security Service (DSS), also last week, arrested four persons suspected to be involved in the abduction of the Vanguard columnist, Dornu Kogbara. The suspects were paraded at the DSS office in Port Harcourt by the state director of the agency, Ibrahim Ngoshe, who told reporters that the suspects were part of a 13-man gang that kidnapped the columnist on August 30, 2015. He said preliminary investigation and the statements of the suspects indicted them.
A pump action gun and other ammunitions were recovered from the suspects.
As part of its drive to combating crime, the Rivers State police Command recently paraded 20 suspects involved in different crimes, ranging from kidnapping, armed robbery and cultism. It also said seven kidnapped victims were rescued at various locations in Port Harcourt.
Various caches of arms such as five AK47, one GPR, 5 locally made pistol, 6 single-barrel gun , 161 rounds of ammunition, as well as 11 vehicles, were displayed before journalists.
Parading the suspects before reporters in Port Harcourt, the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, Musa Kimo, said out of the 20 suspects arrested, 11 were kidnappers, five were cultists and four armed robbers.
He added, “You will remember that on July 27, 2015, we paraded Kelvin Ogbulaon, 22, Chiwendu Akani, 20, and Nelson Kacaranmoh, 23, who confessed to have kidnapped, killed and buried one Friday Ozoko in a shallow grave at the Choba waterfront. Stephen Ezebunwo, who was arrested at Rukpukwo on October 1, is in the police net.
“Also, our quick responses and discreet investigations into reported cases of kidnappings have led to the safe rescue of seven victims. They are Mrs. Bunmi Shonoye, 43, Mrs. Thressa Nwosu, 76, Osimoke Itu, Judah Ayoade, 10, Ugochukwu Duru, Mr. Friday Ozogo , 45, and Professor Iheanyi S. Nzeneri, 68, who is of the University of Port Harcourt. These rescued kidnapped victims were found in an inhuman condition
“On September 28, 2015, about 11:00 am, our men conducted a sting operation along NTA Road, Port Harcourt and arrested one Sunny Ossai, who is the suspected leader of a car snatching syndicate. Further interrogation of Sunny Ossai led our men to Abia State, where five suspected stolen vehicles were recovered. The vehicles are Toyota RAV4 (gold colour), Toyota Camry (gray colour), Toyota Camry (silver colour), Honda EOD (silver colour), Toyota Land Cruiser jeep (wine colour). A silver colour Toyota Lexus belonging to one Mrs. E. Amadi, which was snatched at gunpoint along Obiri-Ikwerre, was also recovered by the operatives of the command on September 29, 2015 in Awka, Anambra State.”
He, however, debunked media report that there is crime upsurge in the state, stressing that such report was the handiwork of “false alarmists.” He commended the people of the state for their cooperation and support, and urged them not to relent in furnishing the command with useful and credible information.
Armed gang men arrested by River State Police Command.
Cash found in the vehicle used by the gang