By Augustine Ehikioya
Checking crimes and breakdown of law and order, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Police (CP), Amiengheme Andrew, said Operation Restore Peace has achieved 99% success in Akwa Ibom State.
In the wake of onslaught and attacks by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN) in the country, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, had introduced the Operation to tackle the groups among other mandates.
The Akwa Ibom CP said the Operation has been very effective in the State and has successfully flushed out and ended the groups’ movements to the South South from the Eastern part of the country.
He spoke in an exclusive interview with Security Watch Africa (SWA) in his office in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
He said “The period was when the IPOB and ESN thing reached climax all over the country, especially the Eastern part and the South South. A community had them in it and they made attempt, and infact we suffered some casualties.
“But we were able to overcome it. Akwa-Ibom State is not an IPOB State per se, but that particular locality, they were bringing them there, we didn’t know in time. Chieftains of the local community even escaped from the place.
“We did not know in time. By the time we knew, it was already very bad and we suffered quite a number of casualties. Before June or early June, it was very bad until we had to jointly, with other sister agencies embarked on complete clean up of the place and the place is peaceful now.
“For sometime now, we have not recorded any casualty and we are not going to record any casualty from them,” he added.
On how active the Operation Restore Peace was in his State, he said “Very active, we had to dominate the local government area and other places where they have reared their head and that is why we have had the peace.
“It was very active. The Military joined us initially, but gradually they withdrew and left it to the Police and we are doing it fine now. Operation Restore Peace has achieved 99% success here,” he insisted.
Asked if the IGP’s advice has helped the State, he said “In fact, it was a saving grace. The advice was beautiful and it came at the right time and it nipped the problem in the bud.
He described the IGP as “An excellent Police Officer of the first order, worldwide.”
Speaking further on the state of security in the State, he said that the State is calm and Akwa Ibomites are generally peace loving.
According to him, many measures including Community Policing are already in place to check criminally and crime.
The CP said “The security of the state is very calm for now. A lot has been put in place to ensure we curb crime from going up. Many measures have been put on ground by the Command to checkmate the bad eggs.
“I want to appreciate the State government for having partnered with us so far. And they are still trying and we are still asking for more. We have been told that the Community Policing by the IGP should be the order of the day and we have been applying it.
“And we thank the IGP for bringing this idea, Community Policing. We even have special constabularies from the communities and its all working fine.
“So, we appreciate the Police High Command, we appreciate the State government and I specially appreciate the people of Akwa Ibom for being peace-loving and equally sharing information every time with us and we are still urging the people to always share information with us.
“Because in other climes where they say Police reacts timely, it’s because the people don’t hide crime. So, I’m urging the Akwa Ibomites not to hide anything from us. Anything they see, they should report. It’s better we find out it’s a false alarm than we allow anything to happen. Let us be our brothers’ keeper to make sure that things go well and we are fine,” he stated.
On crimes being witnessed in the State, he said “Akwa Ibom is not extra-ordinary, the people are peace loving as I said earlier. Every community has its own crime statistics, there is no community that is crime-free.
“But here in Akwa Ibom, little muggings, once a while you have cases of kidnapping, which we have been coping with. The mugging that may look like robbery in dark corners happens a lot. And we have been telling people to always tell us in time. When they see anybody being mugged, they should let us know so that we react in time.
“Our patrol teams have been zoned to various areas where we know are prone to such crime. That has helped a lot to curb these excesses.”
He also disclosed that the State has had cases on gender violence, defilement and indecent assault.
“Gender cases sometimes come up where women are abused or sometimes we have some cases of defilement, indecent assault. I will tell everybody openly here that we don’t condone it. Anyone we catch, anyone arrested must be prosecuted and must pass through the arm of the law.
“The wife of the governor and feminine groups in the State don’t take kindly to it at all. So we work together and we will be working together to make sure we bring it to the barest minimum.”
Speaking on his major achievements, he said “Not too long ago, in Oron we had case of kidnapping, case of near – kidnapping, which amounted to murder, where they killed the person. The suspects have been brought to book.
“I’m sure my PRO will allow you to talk to them because we are about to arraign them in court because we have arrested most of them and some are still on the run and at large.
“We are urging the public to volunteer information concerning those criminals. But we are doing our best to make sure that crime is brought to the barest minimum,” he said.
Giving out the crime statistics, he said “Like in other States, for example, we can give you statistics of what we have done so far. We recorded arrest of some robbery suspects, 411 have been arrested so far, 251 have been arraigned in court, 31 are under investigation.
“We have recovered 31 arms so far and also we have recovered 86 ammunition, assorted ammunition, 45 vehicles have been recovered so far. And we are doing our best to make sure we bring crime to the barest minimum.
“We are urging the public to cooperate with us, to give us useful and viable information at the quickest time so that we can react in time.”
He assured that the Command has enough men and materials to react to any distress call in the State.
“On ground, we have enough machinery to take care of such reactions and to, within 10 or 15 minutes react to any distress call. Our Control room is 24/7, we receive distress calls from all over the State and we react all over the State.
Speaking more on kidnapping, he said “I believe that the PRO will allow you to talk to the persons who have been arrested, so that it will be directly from their mouths, saying it by themselves so that it won’t look like I’m just singing my own praises or the Police praises. The PRO will allow you to talk to them so that it will be very clear and vivid for everyone to see.
“We will keep on doing our best at it and like I said members of the public should always give us useful information as at when due. We assure them, they will be able to rest and sleep well at night.”
On cooperation with other security services, the CP said “In Akwa Ibom State, our cooperation is almost 100 percent because the Army, the Navy, the Air force, Civil Defence, all of them are at our bell and call. Even the NDLEA, we all work together.
“We meet jointly, we meet together and discuss our problems and we have a common Whatsapp page where we share anything we need to talk and we do it real fast. It has achieved a lot. There is a lot to gain from joint operations. We even do joint patrols together in trouble areas and it has paid up a lot,” he said.
He also warned criminals not to come to Akma Ibom State as the Force is always battle – ready.”
“Few minutes ago, we just received some new communication gadgets and vehicles to boost our patrols.” he added.