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Murder of Edo policemen: Only God‘ll save us – Slain corps’ colleague

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Abuja Remains Peaceful – IGP

Recently, four policemen were killed by gunmen at a checkpoint in sabongida ora, Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State. South-South Regional Editor Frank ehizOjie took a trip to the scene of the incident to capture the mood of the people and provide an update on the gruesome incidence.
The lOOk on the faces of people you come across in Sabongida-Ora, headquarters of Owan West Local Government Area of Edo state, on that Sunday afternoon, tells you something ominous had happened. The entire town was gripped with fear, and this was clearly written on the faces of the Okada riders I approached for direction as soon as I got down from ataxi I boarded with five other passengers. Ora, as many prefer to call the town, was not entirely new to me. My late grand mother lived there and as children, we used to spend our holidays with her, particularly at festive periods. It was a very lively place that used to bubble with life, mostly on Sunday mornings, when people were dressed up for church in their most beautiful attires, ready to go for worship.But on this fateful Sunday morning, it was different; everybody was in a mood best described as fear. According to information widely circulated on the social media, the unimaginable happened on Saturday evening to the horror of Ora people, a bizarre situation as the governor of the state, Godwin Obaseki, described it. According to sources, four policemen assigned to mount a checkpoint at Uzebba-Avbiosi junction were brutally murdered by gunmen who proceeded to set their patrol vehicle ablaze, signifyingthe readiness of the assailants to incapacitate the security men. The victims of the incident were Inspector Sunday Ekwem, Inspector Monday Okunbor, Sergeant Shaibu Mohammed and Sergeant Christian Ohiku. As it stands, policemen at the Divisional Police Command have beefed up security in the area. Several guns-toting policemen who appeared to be combat-readywere stationed at strategic points. Attempts to reach the unarmed ones among them proved abortive, as they insisted our correspondent should wait for permission from the DPO. So I kept to myself until I was led to the DPO who told me clearly that he was not in position to speak to the press. I reminded him that the matter was already on social media going as far as London and America. Still the DPO maintained his stand,but later reluctantly referred me to the area commander who had come in swiftly from Auchi to help his officers. The area commander made it clear that even in the face of emergency, that police would not set aside the standing order. “I advise you to go back to Benin and seek the response of the Police Commissioner or better still the Force PRO,” he said. At that stage I decided to request permission to speak with the relatives of the murdered policemen. The incident was still very fresh in the mind of Mrs. Gloria Ekwem, wife of late Inspector Sunday Ekwem, when I spoke to her. She was still in tears but when I pressed her to speak, she told me there was no inkling of the havoc on the family by those gunmen. She did not have any dream that could have made her persuade her husband not to go to work that evening. All she could remember was that a few days back, he complained of tiredness but that did not stop him from responding to the call of duty with his colleagues. “He left home at about 6am and at about 6.30pm news came that they have been killed by armed robbers who laid ambush for them,” she said. Mrs Ekwem did not feel that the husband deserved to die in that circumstance, as he did not offend anybody in a personal way, so she could not understand why anyone would lay ambush for a police officer merely resuming for duty. She told me that the slain Inspector was from Enugu state and that she will remember him as a Husband who treated her lovingly. “He was very good to me. We never had issues we could not resolve and whenever I want something, like a good husband, he did everything possible toprovide, if it is within his means.” Ekwem’s last son who declined to give his name, equally spoke very well of his father, saying that he would remember him as a man who lived within his means.Apart from the tragic loss of her husband, one of the most troubling thought was the uncertain future of the children now that their father has been killed. She said: “I have five children for him and they are all in school. Four of them are in university while the last born is about to gain admission. I don’t know how I will cope with their training,” While the Ekwem family was in pains over the burden and uncertain future that have suddenly become their lot, the family of Sergeant Christian Ohiku was saddled with the problem of burial arrangements for their late brother. The police DPO who broke the sad news to the family that Sunday afternoon, told them the body of their brother was the only one that was not burnt beyond recognition, stating, “He was shot through the eye,” Mr Okpaise said. He said the problem of burial was a burden they would have wished the police to bear because of the present economic situation, adding that even though they had one or two civil servants in the family, they had not been paid their salaries for months. Like Inspector Ekwem’s family, they were also disturbed about the future of the children left behind by the slain policeman. “As I speak to you I am being owed six months’ salary,” he told Nigerian Pilot Weekend. Meanwhile, Governor Obaseki and the Police Commissioner, Johnson Babatunde Kokumo, have visited the place with the governor announcing a reward of N10 million for any one that could offer information leading to the arrest of the culprits. Since the offer was made, a good number of suspects have been arrested, with many confirmed cultists and other criminals involved. Uzebba is known as a center for such tendencies and naturally, the focus has been on those operating from that end but some people do not believe that the mere announcement of a N10 million reward is all that is needed to make life safe in the area. A local politician in SabongidaOra, Hon. Esezobor Ohiku told this paper that stringent measures such as constituting a joint military and police task force armed with necessary operational vehicles and equipments remainedthe best option to make the area uncomfortable for criminals. “Many of them took to these crimes when they found that there were no longer banks to rob. As you can see there are no longer banks in this area. They have all folded up due to the activities of criminals. How can you bring investors to a place without banks?”he lamented. The Anglican Bishop of SabongigdaOra, Augustine Ohilebo also spoke. His take was that President Muhammadu Buhari is not doing enough in the area of security. He even accused the president of embarking on measures that would further exacerbate the situation. Ohilebo, who expressed the view that the attack must have been carried out by herdsmen, called on the president to reverse his decision to set up cattle colonies and ranches all over Nigeria. According to him, “For me, establishing ranches and cattle colonies is 99 percent the reason why there is so much violence in the land. They want to destabilise everybody. If the federal government is telling the world that it has pursued Boko Haram from Sambisa Forest, why not send these herdsmen to Sambisa Forest to establish these cattle colonies there?” He equally queried the idea of sending over 30,000 policemen to Ekiti during the elections. To a good number of policemen who were overheard giving a free reign to their emotions when they gathered at the divisional command the following Sunday morning, the major regret they have is society’s unpreparedness to do away with crime, thus making policemen victims. Many of them lamented that efforts they put in to rid the society of miscreants hardly yield results because when the cases get to Benin, the miscreants are set free. As one of them concluded, only God will save the Nigerian Police.

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