It was, indeed, two weeks of unusual operation and clampdown on criminals and criminality by officers and men of the Benue state Police command heralding Mr. Bashir Makama, as the new Police Commissioner in the state. Suspects The period saw the re-awakening of the service zeal and orientation of the average Policeman in the State leading to intensive patrols and raids of criminal hideouts in the State, resulting in the arrest of over 60 suspected armed robbers, kidnap suspects and cultists, including notorious ones with the recovery of various calibre of firearms, hundreds of ammunition, six stolen vehicles and three motorcycles.
Suspects paraded Parading the suspects and recovered items at the command headquarters in Makurdi, the Commissioner of Police who gave a detailed account of the operation noted that his first few days of assumption of office in the state were greeted with a barrage of criminal activities from men of the underworld. He said, “It was like my first baptism in the state, but I also quickly alerted the masterminds that I am not here for a tea party, my mission to Benue state is to ensure the peace, security and safety of lives and property of the people and by extension, to also ensure that the people sleep with their two eyes closed.
The arrest of Executioner “In fact, among those being paraded were the masterminds of kidnap cases in parts of the state, members of notorious cult groups and someone they called the executioner who were all behind the killing of students at the Federal University of Agriculture, the Benue State University, all in Makurdi and in parts of the town. The state- wide crackdown also took us to Katsina/Ala which used to be a no- go- area, because of the level of criminality in the area and the way criminal gangs carried on as if they were laws unto themselves. We have taken the battle to the gangs and dislodged them and Katsina/Ala is now safe.”
New strategy adopted Mr. Makama said the success recorded within the last two weeks was also made possible by the strategy he adopted upon assumption of office in the state. “What we did was to situate police checks within communities and residential areas which are soft targets. It is a strategy that gave the people a sense of safety and confidence that we are determined to face criminals headlong. My plea is that the people should be the whistle blowers by volunteering information and intelligence to the police.” According to him, in the course of the operation, the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, Patrol team on stop- and-search by Secretary to the State Government’s, SSG, office in Makurdi, intercepted and arrested five alleged notorious armed robbery suspects who had been terrorizing Kwande and its environs. “Also arrested by our operatives at Kwande was one Aondovee Ugba of Maar Asar Turan. One locally- made single barrel gun was recovered from him and some beverages collected on gunpoint from one Atam Nyankyume of Mbakyan Nanev. One Tersoo Avine, was also arrested at the North Bank area of the town and an when we carried out on- the- spot search on him, we recovered 7 rounds of live ammunition. On interrogation, the suspect led us to the hide out of the criminal gang and we arrested 3 others, recovered 2 motorcycles.” Passers-by to the rescue “We also have with us two men named Sunday and one Frank who, armed with a pistol, attacked one chemist named Christian Odo of No. 62, Okpiko Street, Otukpo and robbed him of N65,000, 2 handsets valued M47, 000, and injured the victim who raised alarm. Passers-by came to his rescue and arrested one Sunday with a locally- made pistol while others escaped. The suspect was beaten by the mob; he was later rushed to the General Hospital where he was confirmed dead. We are still investigating the case.” Cultists on rampage nabbed Continuing he said, “On August 4th., Terzungwa Angula and Zaidu Inusa, both of Gboko West, were arrested on information that they are cult members and also in possession of firearm. Search warrant was executed in their houses where a locally- made pistol, 3 live and 2 expended ammunitions, charms, battle axe, bunch of keys ¾ military trouser, face cap, 6 Airtel, 2 Etisalat, 1 Glo & 1 MTN sim cards were recovered. Kidnappers on the prowl According to CP Makama, the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, CIID, of the command also received information on July 21st. that a gang of kidnappers who were responsible for the past and recent kidnapping activities within Benue State, were in Makurdi plotting some criminal activities. “Based on the strength of the information, a team of detective from the State CIID immediately swung into action and arrested the following persons; Maka Ashinta of Nanev district, Kwande LGA and one Aondoyanvenga Tyohemba of 72 Barrack’s road Makurdi.
During our investigations, the suspects voluntarily confessed to the Police that they were allegedly sent by one Terwase Agwaza aka ‘Gana’ to Warri in Delta State with the sum of N1.8million to procure arms and ammunitions in preparation to fight the Benue State Government and its citizens. We are still investigating the matter,” he added. Arrest of kidnap and robbery king pin Speaking further the Commissioner said a tip off on the Police early this month led to the arrest of an alleged kidnap and robbery kingpin, Teryila Ugaa aka Jugas, who was holding a meeting with his gang members at Tom Ataan Shitile District of Katsina Ala LGA. “Our team of operatives swiftly mobilized to the place where the hoodlums on sighting the Police, engage them in a gun duel and in the process, the said Teeryila Ugah, Gande Adi and Onowe Adi, were fatally injured and were rushed to hospital where they were confirmed dead, while other members of the gang escaped with bullet wounds. A Takorov Pistol with 5 live ammunition were recovered from the gang” .
The Police Commissioner explained that some of the suspects had been charged to court while investigations into some of the cases were still ongoing. He urged criminal minded individuals to have a rethink and synergise with the Police or leave the state cautioning that the operation would be a continuous exercise warning that no one would undermine his determination to ensure the security, safety and protection of lives and property in the state.