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Kidnappers, robbers escape from police custody

…policemen arrested, to face orderly room trial in Edo

Hundreds of suspected kidnappers and armed robbers have escaped from the cell of the Edo State Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department (SCIID). Already, all the policemen on duty within the SCIID and others on security duty have been arrested and detained on the orders of the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Kokumo. The actual number of the escaped suspects was yet to be ascertained at press time.

Sources at the command disclosed that majority of the kidnap and armed robbery suspects arrested in the past two months and those nabbed in raids on hideouts during the Christmas and New Year celebrations escaped from the cell.

In addition, details of the midnight escape were not released yesterday as top shots of the command have continued to maintain sealed lips over the matter. New Telegraph’s investigations revealed that there was alleged complicity by some policemen in the escape.

It is feared that some of the escapee kidnap and armed robbery suspects allegedly have their collaborators and insiders who aid the activities of the criminal gangs. Sources close to the state command disclosed yesterday that the Police Commissioner, Kokumo, was miffed over the escape. The sources added that all the arrested officers and men on duty at the time of the escape would face an orderly room trial.

Police have, since the end of the #EndSARS protests, which led to the escape of over 2,000 inmates of the Benin and Oko Correctional Centres, restricted movement on the road leading to the state command headquarters, a development, which suggests complicity of men of the force in the latest escape.

In addition, the police recently constituted a Joint Security Task Force made up of soldiers, men of the Department of State Services (DSS), the police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) to tackle the recent rising upheavals at the Upper Sakponba, Murtala Mohammed (MM) Way on Third East Circular Road, Textile Mill Road, Ugbowo and other areas considered as flash points in the state.

The Saturday night development came at a time kidnappers, armed robbers and rival cult groups have laid siege to Benin, the state capital, and adjoining towns, in the past two months. With the escape of the kidnap and armed robbery suspects, fear and tension have further heightened in parts of Benin and other towns in the state. More than 16 people have been killed in the wake of renewed rival bloody war in parts of Benin, while several people fell victims of robberies, which have become a daily occurrence. Major targets of the robbery attacks have been traders and operators of Point of Sales (PoS) outlets as well as other residents. On Saturday night, all the entry and exit points linking Kings Square, otherwise known as Ring Road, were barricaded by suspected robbers about 7:45p.m, where they dispossessed motorists and passers- by of their valuables.

Gunmen had, on December 19, 2020, kidnapped the state Head of Service, Mr. Anthony Okungbowa, a lawyer and former State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) on Oza Road in Orhionmwon Local Government Area. Also, gunmen twice abducted passengers of Abuja-bound commercial buses on the single lane Benin-Auchi-Lokoja Road in November and December last year.

However, residents of Benin have, in recent times, witnessed increased cases of robbery attacks with the perpetrators carrying out their operations in commando styles unchallenged. The state Commissioner of Police, Kokumo and the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Chidi Nwabuzor, did not pick their calls yesterday when called to speak on the escape and spate of crime in the state.

But the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), Mr. Ajala Ayoola, yesterday denied that the escape occurred on Saturday. He, however, did not say the day the escape occurred. Ayoola told New Telegraph to wait for an official statement from the state command for details of the incident. He said: “It is not true that it happened last night (Saturday). Wait for a statement from the PPRO.” Meanwhile, a senior female journalist, Ms Flora Bossey, has been attacked and robbed by gunmen in Benin.

Bossey had gone to an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) on Airport Road close to the King’s Square in Benin when she was robbed. She was robbed moments after she withdrew some cash from the ATM. Two gunmen were said to have waited for her to finish the cash withdrawal when they emerged from nowhere and swooped on her at gunpoint.

They collected her two ATM cards, mobile phones with MTN line and other personal items. The gunmen were said to have later moved down the Airport Road after the attack. Bossey said they took her ATM cards and forced her to give them the PIN.

 

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