Crime upsurge: Benin under siege
By Abavo Kingsley, Benin
After a momentary peace in Edo, a renewed upsurge in various crime activities has hit the State like a thunder bolt and everyone is trembling with the fear of the unknown not sure who will be the next victim.
Within one month, chains of various crimes were recorded especially; kidnapping, shootings and killings in cold blood, also armed robbery. The State capital, Benin – city is majorly the theatre of operations.
On September 24, 2017 residents of the City were shocked hearing the news of abduction of the Managing Director, Ogba Zoological Gardens and Nature, Andy Ehanire by unknown gunmen.
In that operation, the life of three police men who were drafted to be on guard at the Zoo was snuffed off.
No one least suspected that the incident would be the beginning of chains of criminal acts that would sweep across the City and its environs in days ahead.
In sequence, barely two weeks after, popular musician Osayomore Joseph ‘s abduction followed, and on October 5, 2017, just 24 hours later, University of Benin Prof. Paul Otasowie was reportedly shot dead by suspected assassins on Ekehuan Road axis of the City.
On 25 September, 2017 at Ogueka village, Uhunmwode Local Government Area of the State, in a community crisis, four persons were shot with one feared dead, and three others carrying different degres of injuries.
This was as an ash colour KIA RIO with number plate; BEN 37 AS was reportedly snatched by gun men on Ekehuan Road early October.
Aside these widely publicized crimes; there were other lesser crimes that occurred within the period.
Now, everyone is worried stiff especially been in the ‘Ember’ month of the year that have come to be mystically associated with stories that touch the heart; a period noted for an up of criminals activities.
In reaction, everyone is asking question; what is the Godwin Obaseki administration doing? Has the security network in the State been punctured and outsmarted?
As these questions and many others are waiting to find satisfactory answers, residents have begun to make statements and take actions that should push those in authority to decisively brace up for the challenge.
The Benin Monarch, Oba Ewuare II through the Benin Traditional Council presided over by the Iyase, Chief Sam Igbe has expressed concern about the renewed insecurity in the State.
The Monarch condemned the recent incidences of kidnapping, killings, and armed robbery, calling on security agencies to be upbeat in their operations and residents to synergize and be actively alert wherever they are.
The State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through its spokesman, Chris Enekhikhare in a statement urged the Governor Obaseki administration to wake up in providing security for people of the State as one of its foremost constitutional responsibilities.
The Party noted that the Obaseki administration has taken certain actions which negatively impacted on majority of the youths, and the very ordinary people; disbandment of task-force on local revenue collection, transport unions, and street trading. Adding, the administration failed to provide alternative to prevent effects snowballing into what is happening in the State now. It is said this is contrary to what is obtained in civilized democracies of the world.
Chairman, Association of Senior Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Benin chapter, Prof. Julius Iyasele wholly agreed with the position of the State PDP.
Probably the most daring in the wave of reactions, is the protest of ‘Concerned People of Edo State’ on Monday, October 9, 2017 to the National Assembly and the Police Headquarters in Abuja condemning the situation at home and calling for the immediate deployment of the Commissioner of Police, Haliru Gwandu.
They lament that while the Godwin Obaseki administration and the Benin Monarch, Oba Ewuare II were working hard to attract investors to the State, the Inspector General of Police ,IGP, has refused to support the Government of Edo in this effort.
“While past police commissioners in the State had done everything possible to checkmate activities of criminals that operate in these well known flash points/ area to a minimum and tolerable level using available intelligence reports, we have long noticed a lethargic approach and rather non – charlatan attitude by the current Commissioner of Police, Haliru Gwandu.
In the same vein, Roy Orhibabor, Human Rights activists has gone on hunger strike which he declared to begin on 9 October – November 8, 2017 until the abducted persons are released, and the security situation improves.
“If I don’t survive it, to God be the glory, he said.”
However, CP Gwandu has assured that the State Police Command is working hard to secure release of the abducted persons, and get at perpetrators of the crimes.
Meanwhile, Governor Obaseki has also reassured that Government is deploying resources tactfully to arrest the upsurge in security challenges pervading the State.
But he appealed that people should be careful in making statements so as not to endanger efforts of Government to rescue those abducted and put a hurt to the resurgence.
This is as he vowed not to be cowed into negotiating with criminal elements, and organized crime lords.
Obaseki declared that the liberty of the ordinary law abiding people is not for sale adding; the State Government would never return to the old order.
Towards this end, he disclosed that his administration is working to revamp the ‘Operation Thunder Storm’ established by his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole