By Bisi Olaniyi, Benin-city
Barely 72 hours to the second-term inauguration of Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his deputy, have Philip Shaibu, as well as hosting the first leg of AFCON’s qualifying match between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone, daring armed robbers let loose in the South-south state.
The criminals, on Monday night, invaded the Divisional Police Headquarters at Igueben, the seat of Igueben Local Government Area of Edo state, killing two policemen, injuring many security personnel and carting away a huge cache of arms and ammunition.
The two policemen, who lost their lives to the sudden attack by the rampaging hoodlums, were Monday Asoata, an Inspector, and Esangbedo Ezekiel, a Corporal, with their bodies already deposited in an undisclosed morgue in Edo, while the injured policemen were currently receiving treatment in hospitals in the state.
Sources at Igueben, who spoke Tuesday, revealed that the armed robbers arrived at the divisional police headquarters around 8 p.m., throwing dynamite into the befitting police station to gain access and destabilise the police personnel on duty.
Amid sporadic gunshots, the hoodlums then headed for the police station’s armory, thereby looting the arms and ammunition, which they hurriedly carted away.
The killed policemen made efforts to prevent the armed robbers from attacking the station and looting the armory, but they were shot at close range.
Shortly after the attack and killing of the innocent policemen, residents of Igueben trooped to the streets of the ancient town, protesting the gory and horrifying acts, while urging Obaseki and Edo Police Commissioner, Babatunde Kokumo, to ensure thorough investigation, arrest of the criminals and to ensure diligent prosecution, to serve as a deterrent to others.
The protesters attributed the “premeditated” attack on the divisional police headquarters to external invaders, which they said might have been as a result of the October 19 looting and razing of seven police stations in Edo and attack on the two correctional centres in Benin, the state capital, leading to escape of 1,993 inmates, who immediately returned to crimes.
Edo Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Chidi Nwabuzor, a Superintendent of Police (SP), Tuesday via the telephone, confirmed the attack on the divisional police headquarters at Igueben.
He said: “On November 9, 2020, at about 19.30hrs, hoodlums suspected to be armed robbers, invaded the police station at Igueben. Immediately, the police personnel mobilised to repel them.
“During gun duel, one of the suspected armed robbers was shot dead, two policemen were wounded and they were taken to the hospital. One motorcycle, suspected to belonging to the robbers was confiscated by the police. No policeman was killed in the attack.
“The police are doing their best to weed out criminal elements in that axis (Igueben) of the state. As I speak, normalcy has returned to that part of Edo.”
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, on November 4, during his working visit to Edo state, while addressing police officers and men at the state headquarters in Benin, after inspecting the seven looted and razed police stations in the state, asked policemen not to leave the public space open for criminals to take charge, while directing them to occupy everywhere.
Adamu said: “Policemen are special breeds in this country, because they are specially trained to do the duties that other people are not able to do. That is why despite all these attacks on you, you absorbed them, you came out and you are doing your lawful duties of maintaining law and order, and making sure that crimes are not committed within the society. I encourage you to continue to do that. Do not be demoralised. You do not need to leave the public space open for criminals to take charge. You need to occupy everywhere.
“All that happened, in terms of attacks on police and police stations will not stop us from coming out to perform our constitutional duties, but while we are performing these constitutional duties, we must also protect ourselves, because every policeman is a human being and also entitled to human rights protection.
“Do not forget Force Order 237. Read and digest it very well and know when you should use firearms. Use your firearms in a lawful manner, because you are law-enforcement agents. When you use your firearms wrongly, that is when you will see people protesting. One of the ways you should use your firearms will be when your life is in danger and there is no other way to escape. It does not make sense for a policeman to die, while he is carrying a rifle.”
The IGP also stated that the attacks on the police and police stations during the recent #EndSARS protests that were hijacked by hoodlums were to demoralise policemen, to humiliate them and to make them feel that they did not have support at all, in the members of the public, but he insisted was not the case.