At his maiden media briefing on February 19, 2014, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Tunde Ogunsakin, said that he will personally be leading patrols sometimes.
Ogunsakin’s deployment to the oil and gas rich state came as a relief to many, especially the political class, most of who are members of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), following the controversial reign of his predecessor, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu whose nearly one year control of the State Police Command was described by many a political class as infamous, bias and inimical.
Needless to delve into the tomfoolery and the negative role the police in Rivers, under Mbu played at the height of the political crisis in the state (as it were), but suffice it to say that for those on the other divide, talking about the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP); Mbu remains a professional policeman who knows his onions and discharges his duties without fear or favour. A Moses of some sort, if you like.
For the rest of the populace (those who were not on the political stage), their views on the issue, as it were depended on a number of variables.
So, on assumption of office, Ogunsakin was first faced with the challenge of defining his stand and redeeming the seeming ‘battered image’ of the police in the state, by warming the security outfit and its personnel back into the hearts of people, thereby restoring their confidence.
More challenging, of course which has to do with his primary assignment as the chief law enforcer in the state was to ensure the protection of lives and property.
At a news briefing on Thursday, 26th June, 2014, Ogunsakin restated his resolve thus, “In my maiden welcome address as Commissioner of Police in this state, I had made it a point of duty to intimate the Rivers people that my administration will not condone any shoddy dealings in the interest of few who feel lives and safety of the citizenry is not important to them.
“The command’s effort in our activities is yielding fruitful seeds as we combat crime in all forms. I will like to state also that modern day security is our benchmark. We will continue to strive in this direction, God willing”.
Aside meetings with the key players in the political class of the state, he has also had discussions with traditional rulers, opinion leaders and the various groups across the state which are instrumental in ensuring peace, while potentially trouble spots like public protest, political rallies were banned, with a call to any group preparing to congregate beyond 20 people for certain occasions to give five days notice to his office, or else such gathering may be considered illegal.
In well over 100 days since he assumed office, the police under his command has between March and June this year, busted high profile criminal gangs involved in car snatching, kidnapping, impersonation, cultism, murder, rape, rituals, to mention a few.
On 10th March, 2014, men of the State Security Service, SSS arrested a notorious three man gang which specialized in armed robbery, car theft and car snatching. Their operations include breaking into parked cars in the middle of the night, snatching vehicles at gunpoint and robbing their victims of valuable possessions.
The suspects are Andrew Atusi, 29, leader of the gang, who always posed as a military captain with a fake Identity card. The others are Onyekachi Ebeh, 25 and Endurance Emmanuel, also, 25.
Ogunsakin while parading the suspects before journalists said the “the gang was busted while trying to sell one of their stolen cars; a pathfinder jeep. After preliminary investigations were carried out by the police, the suspects were transferred to SARS, Port Harcourt where further investigations were carried out.
“The investigations revealed that the gang had an organized operational circle that covers Rivers, Edo, Imo and Lagos states with their base in Port Harcourt. One of them, the kingpin, Andrew Atusi also poses as a Military Captain, has a fake military ID card and uniform.
“So far, the Special Anti Robbery Squad has recovered 24 vehicles and is recovering more as investigations are still ongoing,” he said.
Similarly, Rowland Chimezie, 35 years; Emeka Ogoke, 51; Paul, 30; and Saidu Mudi, 32;, all suspects involved in car snatching, car theft and insurance fraud were apprehended by men of the state Special Anti Robbery Squad.
The gang members, according to the state police boss specialized in related crimes of snatching or stealing cars, change of physical features of cars and forgery of car documents.
“They were apprehended while trying to forcefully snatch a Highlander Jeep in June, 2014. Other members of the gang are at large as investigation continues,” he said.
For cultism, kidnapping and rituals, 41-year old Onwuzuruike Nwaokagwu was nabbed by operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad who responded to a tip off and led a combined team to arrest the suspect in his home in Igwuruta, Rivers State on 24th June, 2014.
“At the point of his arrest, the suspect was discovered to be in possession of two locally made pistols, live ammunition and a human skull.
These were recovered from him.
“Upon subsequent investigation, it was revealed that the skull belong to a lady who was murdered by the suspect and his gang, the suspect also owned up to using the skull as a medium to get rich, claiming that the skull speaks to him and provides him with naira notes in various denominations after special sacrifice.
“The suspect has since confessed his membership to the brutal cult group, ‘Dey-well,” Ogunsakin said. Wonders shall never end.
For 40-year old Eze Onyebuchi, a dismissed police officer involved in conspiracy, kidnap and impersonation, the Anti Kidnapping Unit of the Rivers State Police Command responded to an intelligence report and rounded up a gang of kidnappers led by Onyebuchi.
“The suspect, a dismissed police officer had, in August 2010, been dismissed from police service in Anambra State Police Command for conspiracy to kidnap one Mr Nwa Okafor who he was assigned to as an escort.
“On June, 2014, his phone number was tracked in connection with the kidnap of one Elizabeth Odili. The suspect was assisted by the security man of the victim, one Peter and accompanied by one Uzoma who is now at large. Recovered from the suspect are police uniforms, rifles and live ammunition,” the CP said.
Mary Amadi, 25, a female, was arrested for threatening violence. On 11th June, 2014 at about 1400hrs, operatives of Anti Kidnapping (AKU) trailed her to Monkey Street, Elele town, where she threatened one Rachael Ohiowele popularly known as ‘Ehidianah’, a radio presenter with Wazobia FM, Port Harcourt.
According to the police, “She repeatedly sent text messages to the victim threatening to do to her what had been done to Anthony Akatakpo aka Akas baba (also of Wazobia FM) who was kidnapped in February 2014. The suspect also demanded for N15 million from the victim. The suspect (Mary Amadi) has since confessed to the crime.”
Ndubuisi Udensi, 41 and David Joseph, both males were arrested for suspected kidnap and unlawful possession of arms. “On 31/12/13 at 1605hrs, the manager of a filling station along Omagwa-Isiokpo road was kidnapped by a gang of four, shot and conveyed to an unknown destination. The suspects also demanded and received ransom of N1.2 million.
“The gang’s modus (operandi method of operation) includes sending threat messages with dreadful photos and live ammunition attached to them and subsequently makes death threat calls to their victims
“Men of the Anti Kidnapping Unit (AKU) stayed on their trail and have arrested the kidnappers who attempted to kidnap another filling station manager, one Promise Elemah. The phone calls made were tracked and the leader, Ndubuisi Udensi was arrested with a pistol, dynamite detonator, fake dollar bills and numerous mobile phones.
Mohammed Abdullahi, member of a car theft syndicate was at about 1600hrs on 23/06/14, a patrol team from Elimbu Division, Rivers state arrested one Mohammed Abdullahi at Bentab Hotel, Port Harcourt and recovered a Nissan Primera with Reg no. KHE 157 BC property of one Ulo Ajie while another Toyota corolla with Reg. no PHC 67 AM property of Nest oil Plc was recovered at Rumukwurushi pipeline.
“The suspect belongs to a syndicate that specializes in stealing cars and transporting them to Kano state from where they are taken across the border to Cameroun and Benin republic and sold as ‘Belgium’ vehicles,” the police said.
A gang of rapists: Tambari Dumlesi, 40 years; Ikechukwu Akah, 22; and Friday Esau, 27; was also nabbed. Giving details of their arrest, CP Ogunsakin said “on 23/06/14 at 1800 a complaint was lodged by a 16 year old victim of rape. The victim reported that she attended a party at Ogbuga Street in Ogbumnuabali, Port Harcourt organized by one Tina.
“While at the party, she was given a glass of hot drink by Tambari Dumlesi. That was the last memory she had before she was raped by 15 different men. She woke up to find herself in torn boxers and with swollen private part. The victim has since been taken to the police clinic for check up and treatment while the three suspects were apprehended.
The police boss said all the cases were still being investigated, pointing out that the suspects would be charged to court. “I want to use this medium to reiterate our commitment to continue our crusade against crime and its perpetrators. I want to advise all perpetrators of crime to desist from their actions or relocate from this state,” he stated.
Coming with a super profile with a link with Interpol and intimidating personality, so far, Ogunsakin can safely pride himself that aside doing his job of protecting lives of people of the state professionally; neither the APC nor the PDP has accused him, at least openly of pandering to the wishes of the other.
In the main, these achievements may be coming with a caveat, “rejoice not yet”, because in the next couple of months, everyone will be watching keenly; as political campaigns are due to begin ahead of the 2015 general elections.