The Emohua axis of the East-West road became a beehive of criminal activities last week. Not like it has been anything less than a chess board for criminal elements who assault commuters at will but last week, the criminals made a bold statement that they perhaps have defeated the new Commissioner of Police, Usman Belel, who upon resumption of office, promised to stamp out crime and send criminals to hell.
But has the CP been defeated barely one month after making the reassuring promise? One cannot categorically tell. The CP has to decide for himself, his fate.
First, in the early hours of Monday, an 18-seater bus belonging to a popular transportation company, GO Agofure was attacked at Rumuekpe junction. The driver of the bus was shot dead while trying to defeat the criminals who had blocked a section of the road. The rest of the passengers were whisked away into the bush where they spent four days in the hands of their abductors before the police intervened. As at present, the fate of two of the passengers remains unknown.
On Thursday, a convoy of chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was attacked at the Rumuji axis of that road. The leader of Ahoada-West legislative assembly, EFCC Chiko, was shot dead while some of the party’s loyalist were subsequently abducted.
The pattern of crime in that area has been nothing but persistent with questions begging for answers; what is the police doing? That the police is not doing anything is not the tragedy. The tragedy is the denial of crime upsurge by those who might equally become victims.
Inside the town, the worst things are happening. The people of Ogbunabali a few weeks ago woke up to cult-related battles that culminated in the death of about five persons according to local sources. At Diobu, it has become a weekly activity. Two weeks ago, the special assistant to the Rivers State Governor, Dr Onuoha was abducted at Ada George. He spent 13 days with his abductors. These were in the heart of the town and are only a tip of the iceberg to a myriad of others.
But if the police cannot shield people living in townships from human-induced terror, how about those living in the hinterlands like Aluu, Omoku, Choba and other parts of Ikwerre local government area where gunmen unleash terror at will leading to several deaths?
The numbers are too recurring for one to wish away yet men of the police are seen at major roads in Port Harcourt extorting money from commercial drivers using the same weapon they could not deploy to secure residents. Those at the mile 1 to mile 3 axis are said to make at least 30, 000 daily from their extortionist adventures that commercial drivers are complaining that they want to put them out of business.
Yet one still hopes that the new CP will be strategic in his approach to security in the state, especially as the country is set to go into another round of elections. This time, the assurance should not just come in words that will be said with hopes that residents forget them easily. They have to come in the form of actions, where the unknown gunmen are unveiled and punished for their crimes and those planning to commit crimes are arrested before their wishes are fulfilled. If not, the new CP should accept defeat, just like his predecessor who sat back and watched security in the state deteriorate while being a pun in the hands of politicians. And if he does, the resident will either resort to self-help or outsource such to those who can.
The police should deploy more into intelligence gathering and flush out the criminals along the East-West road. The Rumuji, Rumekpe, Ndele to Ogbakiri areas of Emohua need another form of vigilance. It is a duty they owe commuters who ply that road and those whose lives were lost in the hands of criminal elements on that road.
The state government should also be seen to be doing something. The high unemployment rate in the state constitutes to these ugly trends. How is the state government creating employment in the state to engage the youths in reasonable ventures apart from ferrying them to political rallies?
The narrative that Rivers State is not secure needs to change and changing such narrative means that those who hold power in trust for the people do not go about making bogus claims while the people live in penury and in total desolation.