Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has called on the Inspector-General of Police to investigate how criminals sacked the Police Area Command and Divisional Police Station, freed inmates and held Auchi town in Edo North hostage for over three hours with no response from the police.
The Governor who made the call yesterday during an inspection of the First Bank, Access Bank, Ecobank, soldiers’ quarters and the police formations attacked by bandits last week Auchi, said there is need for the police to do a soul-searching to see if there are no men within the police who did not compromise security.
According to the governor, “to think that a police station with arms could be attacked and the police could not gun down one criminal gives cause for worry.
“I was not happy that the police had to park the Armoured Personnel Carrier behind the Area Commander’s office instead of being at strategic locations in Auchi town. It shows that the police are not using the funds given to them maximally. I am not impressed because the APC ought to be in operation.
“The fact that the APC was packed at the back of the station and bombed there means that it was not put to maximum use. It is unacceptable. They should begin to account for their negligence of duty, incompetence or both. Until we begin to do that, this lamentation will continue and criminals will continue to operate and demystify the state and make us look like a collection of mushrooms that can be consumed with minimal efforts.
“I believe the police will have to do investigation to reassure us that we are safe. The fact that they can attack two police formations and do that kind of damage shows the need to revisit the role of policing and their operational order,” he said.
The governor however praised the Army for the five soldiers who repelled the attack and killed one of the bandits who attacked and attempted to bomb a private residence where the soldiers reside.
“The point has been made that if you attack a military base you will pay a huge price. For me, that is a little relief that one of the bandits was killed by the soldiers in the sense that his identity will help us to assist the security agencies in their investigations,” he noted.
The governor expressed shock at the sheer guts of the criminals, saying that investigations being carried out by the security agencies will help to unravel what happened.
“The security agencies are investigating and I have no reason to believe that their investigation will not lead to positive outcome that will help us to identify these criminals. But much more important is to learn the right lessons from the incident to take security issues more seriously than has been the case.
“I am troubled by what I saw, but we are not giving up. The criminals cannot win; they must be defeated and brought to justice. Let reassure your highness that the irreducible responsibility of any government is to protect lives and property. If government cannot protect lives and property, then we are in trouble.
“I accept responsibility as the Governor of Edo State for what happened. We have a duty to contribute in ensuring security. I do hope that you appreciate that what has happened is not because of wont of efforts, it is in spite of efforts.
“We have spent our meagre resources at the level of Edo State government to support the Police by providing vehicles and even communication gadgets. We have set up ‘Operation Thunderstorm’ and persuaded the President and Commander-in-Chief to allow the Army to join the Police to complement the efforts of the Police to patrol the cities across the state.
“Ordinarily, the Army should not be involved in civil policing but because of the sheer deficiency on the side of the Police, we had to get the Army to reinforce the Police. This is why you have seen soldiers manning the Operation Thunderstorm. We will continue to provide support for the Police, we will continue to pay allowances to officers and men who are involved in patrolling; we will continue to ensure that the Police must search their ranks to ensure that we don’t have criminals wearing uniforms, providing sensitive information to criminals that seems to help them to achieve the kind of damage they have done here without the criminals counting their losses.
“We must ask more fundamental questions on the role of the Police and insist on responsible answers. Everything must be done to ensure that Edo State does not become part of the high security zones in the country.
“I’ll like to commiserate with the people of Auchi Kingdom. My heart goes to the families who were killed, and in particular, those soldiers whose only reason for being where they are is to watch over us so that we can keep our eyes closed.
“I’m calling on the Police authorities to do proper internal investigation and ensure that those who were negligent are brought to book.”
The Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe 111 said he praised Almighty Allah that although the bandits operated for over three hours, they succeeded in taking money from only one of the three banks attacked and he congratulated the governor who has done everything to ensure the security of the state.
He said to complement the security agencies, the government set up vigilance groups. He however lamented that the vigilance groups did not have arms to repel the criminals and defend the community.
He said a way out of the present security challenge is for the government to liberalise the law on weapons so that everybody can defend himself.
The traditional ruler disclosed that he is aware that approval has been given for the deployment of Mobile police men to Auchi which is the fastest growing community in Nigeria with boundaries with other states and for about a year now they are not there.
He prayed Allah to bring perpetrators of the criminal act to justice saying “anybody who has come to this community to do this harm will come to justice, Insha Allah. Almighty Allah will bring them to justice.”