The recent nocturnal invasion of Mgbuosimi in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, culminating in the gruesome killing of 10 traders and other casualties was another sore point in the continued deterioration of security in the state in the full glare of security agents.
Though the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Zaki Ahmed, has declared eight suspected cultists wanted in connection with the sanguinary attack, it is incredible that no arrest has so far been made despite the existence of various security architectures in the state.
What is even more scandalous is the fact that this horrendous incident occurred when the Operation Crocodile Smile II was launched to address kidnapping, robbery and sundry crimes in the Niger Delta. Disdainfully too is the fact that cult killings and attacks of this nature have become a recurring decimal in a state which also boasts of the elite Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), with complete selection of trained and experienced officers and men commanded by Akin Fakorede, a lawyer and Chief Superintendent of Police.
It is a fact in police history and management that officers’ competence, proficiency and professionalism are measured by their mastery of crime prevention and detection strategies as well as crisis management. The continued reign of daring criminals in Rivers State, despite the existence of SARS, therefore, either bears eloquent testimony to the incompetence of the squad or complicity or both.
A recent report alleging that some officials of SARS in Port Harcourt were involved in a criminal operation gives credence to the possibility that they cannot absolve themselves of complicity in this criminality. The report said that the IGP anti-crime team accosted three SARS operatives in Rivers State robbing and a gun duel ensued. The operatives had allegedly taken their hostage to a bank ATM where they compelled him to withdraw N500,000 as ransom. One of the SARS operatives was killed, while one Inspector Justice Nyeche who led the IGP team was injured.
Though similar reports have become common place at many police commands, we consider this not only an embarrassment to the police in the state, but at the national level as well. From all indications, the leadership of SARS in the state has shacked in or derailed from the performance of its basic constitutional functions.
Interestingly, there are reports from many states of the federation where SARS operatives have been at the vanguard of anti-robbery and kidnapping activities and recorded remarkable successes by humbling violent criminals.
Young officer, Abba Kyari, was the head of SARS in Lagos when he humiliated such criminals like Abiodun Egunjobi alias Godogodo who has killed tens of policemen and close to 100 Nigerians. He also recovered about 42 AK-47 from Godogodo’s gang. Kyari recently led the team that broke the gang of kidnappers headed by Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike (aka Evans). Such gentlemen officers like Kyari, are still offering useful services in the force and to their fatherland. Little wonder Kyari is enjoying a meteoric rise, which makes him the youngest Deputy Commissioner of Police to date at age 42.
When robbers like Sina Rambo and Hammani Tijani held the nation hostage with cross-border banditry less than two decades ago, the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad, Lagos and SARS in Lagos and Ogun states brought them to their knees. SARS commanders like late CP Tunde Solulo and retired CP Sam Okaula, both of who were then Superintendents of Police, exhibited rare anti-robbery wizardry to terminate the criminals’ reign of terror.
But that cannot be said of the leader of SARS in Rivers State who was far from professional in the discharge of his duties. Fakorede was indicted by the five-man Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) panel on the Rivers State election rerun of December 10, 2016, headed by Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, an INEC national commissioner. The report mentioned a disturbing level of partisanship by many security operatives who wilfully obstructed electoral process.
It said: “But the most mind-boggling were cases of hostage taking, hijack of materials and physical attacks on INEC officials perpetrated by security operatives. Of singular note was a certain policeman named Akin Fakorede, who ostensibly is a commander of SARS in Rivers State… We suspect that he would have put our staff in harm’s way.”
If the INEC report was very damming, recent indication that Fakorede is scrupulously hob-knobbing with politicians in the state is stupefying, underscoring his level of partisanship. Though Fakorode claimed that all the allegations against him and SARS are untrue, the time for police leadership to disband the squad and redeploy its officers and men is now, given the fact that the Squad and its leadership have been mired by damning allegations and controversies.
Not only will this redeem the image of the force, but injection of fresh, unbiased and very professional police officers will refocus the squad for better performance. Rivers State, one of the mainstays of the economy, deserves a better deal. More so, Rivers is second to none among the states in terms of support for the police.
The earlier President Muhammadu Buhari exhibits his trademark aversion for mediocrity and share chicanery being displayed in Rivers the better.