Editorial: The tasks before Rivers CP, Usman Belel, are delicate ones. How he handles them matter

The new Rivers Commissioner of Police, Usman Belel must be going through files handed over by his immediate predecessor, Ahmed Zaki. If those files are complete, they should contain tens of unresolved murders, kidnapping for ransom, police brutalities, extortion and above all, the destruction of public properties by political thugs.

Ahmed Zaki left a big gap to be filled. It is left for Belel to fill the gap or widen it. Whatever option he chooses, posterity will one day remind him.

Rivers state has raked up bags of misfortunes with its categorization as insecure. While the state has been a victim of vicious and virulent politics, the tag of insecurity is an indictment on the police force whose men sat and watched criminals threaten to overrun the state.

Yet, taking over the command at this crucial time, the new CP has a choice of writing his name in gold or casting it in the mud.

First is that he has to eschew every form of partisanship. His predecessor became a potent tool in the hands of politicians who used his men to provide cover for thugs who went about destroying public properties, especially that of the state high court on May 11, 2018, which was under the ex-CP’s nose. Eight months after that despicable act was carried out, there has been no arrest made and culprits charged to court. The ex-CP simply allowed the matter to be overtaken by events.

The participation of men of the police during the suspended August 18, 2018, PHALGA constituency election where thugs aided by police personnel openly snatched ballot boxes and turned the area into a war zone should not be allowed to stand.

Political heavyweights were caught on camera engaging in the unholy act with the full cover of the police but months after that subversion of public will, no one has been arrested and made to face the law.

The unknown gunmen phenomena have become the order of the day. This has led to hundreds of unresolved murders in the state. Not even the killing of over 20 policemen of the command between May and July prompted the command to be proactive with intelligence gathering. The police only showed up after gunmen had killed, beheaded or kidnapped victims to evacuate dead bodies or carry out mass arrests as the case may be. All these need to change.

The new CP should also work hard to instil discipline in his men. The issue of police extortion along major roads in Port Harcourt city and other local governments in the state is an open secret, a trend that many people want to see reversed. Commercial vehicle operators are the worst hit with taxi drivers planning to take the police heads on so as to survive. Police brutality is rife. Police shoot to kill and at the end of the day, no one is held accountable.

In this election period, the CP needs to reassure the people my doing things differently. The state and her residents need to see a reinvigorated police force that lives up to its responsibilities, police that will not sleep on duty but will restore public confidence in its ability to effectively wrestle crime. Police that will not collapse under a political structure and turn against the same people it was meant to protect.

The residents need to see police too that will effectively tackle the insecurities at Ikwerre Local government, Emohua and Eleme. Police that belongs to the people and not just the politicians. Police for all. This is what is expected of the new CP.

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