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Monday, July 22, 2024

After Onyokomita’s Report, Anambra Police Commissioner Removes DPO Accused of Illegal Arrest and Extortion

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

The new Police Commissioner in Anambra State, CP Aderemi Adeoye, has announced the immediate removal and replacement of DPO Kennedy Oti as the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the B Division, in Awka, the State capital.

The announcement which CP Adeoye made during his maiden press conference with newsmen at the Command’s Headquarters in Amawbia, on Wednesday, came few hours after ONYOKOMITA’S publication on alleged recurrent illegal arrests of some residents by the DPO and his junior officers who would end up extorting the sum of ₦20,000 each from the victim, to release them, without telling them why they were arrested.

According to the investigative report published by Onyokomita on the Tuesday July 11, the DPO and his men launched and daily perpetrated the illegal arrest and extortion during the week that the Finland-based self-acclaimed Biafra agitator, Simon Ekpa, declared a week-long sit-at-home. No fewer than thirty innocent young men were reportedly arrested on daily basis by the DPO and his boys throughout last week; as they would usually come out at about 8.pm to hunt for prey. And each of the victims who was recently raked each night by the officers was said to have paid the sum of ₦20,000 to buy their release.

The DPO and his officers were also accused of torture, dehumanization, and manhandling of the victims, as was narrated to Onyokomita by one of the victims who also lost his band new phone and risked his new car in the course of his own arrest by the officers when he went to buy fruits at the UNIZIK Junction, Awka at about 9:20.pm last Thursday. The victim, after recounting his ordeals in the hands of the officers, also called on the State’s Commissioner of Police and the Inspector-General of Police to take urgent action against the unprofessional conducts of the DPO and his boys against the innocent citizens of the State.

It was shortly after the publication that the Anambra CP announced the removal of the accused DPO to newsmen in Anambra State

“For your information, ladies and gentlemen, we have dealt with that malfeasance; the DPO has been removed. Within few hours of the report and complaints, the DPO was removed, and another senior officer, more refined, was posted to take charge of the B Division,” CP Adeoye told newsmen.

He further stressed that the Command, under his watch, would not tolerate any form of harassment or extortion from the members of the public, adding that his Command is even trying to encourage nightlife in Anambra State, as that would be a testament that normalcy has returned to the State.

“So who will not allow a situation where our men will be going about the beer parlour, drinking joints and others such places and be arresting people. You know, people are trying to cool off from their hardship… Somebody whose minimum wage is ₦20,000, and you arrest him and tell him to pay ₦20,000 for his bail. We condemn it. Even though they are allegations, we are investigating it; but we condemn any such conduct,” he said.

Speaking further, he said, “We will descend hard on any officer that engages in such malfeasance. If, at the end of the investigation, we find out that the allegations are true, certain sanctions will be applied on those officers involved. Under my watch, nobody will harass you anywhere in Anambra State.”

The Anambra Police Chief said he had earlier held a conference with the DPO’s, Area Commanders, and other top officers of the Command, where he said he told them to go back and lecture their men, from the most junior to the most senior, as there will be no excuse for any misconduct.

While re-emphasizing that any officer found wanting in the State would be seriously dealt with; he also revealed that he had initiated awards known as the Commissioner of Police Commendation Award in Anambra State, among other exceptional reward packages for officers who perform exceptionally and gallantly in the discharge of their duties in the State, as a means to boost their morales and encourage others to do better.

“We are here to serve the people, and that, we will do the best of our ability,” he said.

On his mission in Anambra State, CP Adeoye said said he would make the State and the entire South-eastern Nigeria hot and unhabitable for criminal elements through the collaborative efforts of his Command and other sister security agencies in the state and other neighbouring states in the region. He assured that the Command, under his watch, would do everything possible to reduce crime to the barest minimum in the state.

He further highlighted some of the crimes and activities of the criminal elements that are prevalent in the State, including kidnapping, robbery, enforcement of sit-at-home, activities of unidentified gunmen, among others.

While noting that his Command would not advise the criminal elements perpetrating the crimes to relocate from Anambra State, in other not to create problems for the neighbouring state; the CP however, said he would collaborate with the security agencies in the neighbouring states to deal with the criminal elements through intelligence sharing and other professional means.

He further commended Anambra State Government for creating social avenues, such as vocational trainings and the likes, to take the youths out of the streets and to discourage crime in the state, while also assuring of sustained partnership with the government in the fight against crime.

He said: “We have no delight in anyone losing their lives. But if that is what it will take to protect the people of Anambra State, we will not stop at any obstacle to achieve this mandate given to us by the Inspector-General of Police. We will secure and protect the people of Anambra State.

“We will serve them to the best of our ability. We will ensure that lives have value, and that nobody will take away their fundamental human rights to life. That is the reason for our existence here. And we are determined to fulfill this constitutional role. We call on the support and collaboration of the people of Anambra State to achieve this mandate.”

Commissioner Adeoye, who assumed office on Monday also made known some of the successes so far recorded in the fight against crime in the State, including neutralizing two kidnappers, rescuing a kidnap victim, and recovery of different riffles and other exhibits from the criminal elements in different parts of the State.

He said: “On 11/7/2023 by 8:30 pm, the joint security Operatives attached to Forward Operating Base FOB, while on patrol around Uga—Ezinifite Expressway in an attempt to stop two vehicles that drove suspiciously to beat security screening, gave a hot chase to the vehicles — a highlander jeep and a white Lexus 350 without plate number. The Operatives engaged the deadly gang in a gun battle, and they abandoned the two vehicles and took to their heels.

“During a search conducted inside the vehicle, two automatic pump action guns, eleven (11) live cartridges, and a bag containing one walkie-talkie, one cell phone, and other incriminating items were recovered. Further information shows evidence of blood stains on all the vehicles, as they escaped with bullet wounds. The Command also wants to use this opportunity to call on operators of public and private hospitals to admit but report anyone with a bullet wound or related injuries to the nearest Police Station.

“In a related development in the late hours of yesterday 11/7/2023 by 8:13 pm, Police, collaborating with Anambra State Vigilantes at Ichida Bus Stop along the Ichida—Igboukwu expressway, rescued a kidnap victim, neutralized two members of the notorious gang, recovered One Ak47 rifle, two pump action guns, two Ak47 magazine, thirty-two live ammunition, one Highlander Jeep belonging to the victim.

“Preliminary information revealed that the deadly gang of eight operating with two vehicles —a Grey Highlander Jeep and a white Lexus 350 —abducted the victim in her Ash Highlander Jeep. The victim was rescued unhurt and she has been debriefed.”

The Commissioner further warned the criminals in the state to change their ways and queue into the various opportunities provided by the state government to engage in legitimate means of survival, or be prepared to face discomfort in their criminal and illegal activities.

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