All policemen and women who have served for three years and above at post are to be transferred out of Ugbokolo Divisional Police Headquarters, the Benue State Commissioner for Police, Mr Bashir Makama, has said. This followed unanimous complaint from traditional rulers in Edumoga District at a meeting with the Commissioner Tuesday in Ugbokolo which has been the hardest hit in a reign of terror across the District for the past two months. The chiefs told the Police boss that policemen had been the key informants of the ‘bad guys’ who have subjected the area to their own violent authority for quite sometimes now.
The pronouncement is coming against the background of the third day of a manhunt for suspected killers who accosted and beheaded a man at Akpodo Village in lower part of the District last Monday. The motorcycle of the victim, Mr Michael Onoja, was taken away. This brings to five the number of people killed within Edumoga in the past one week. These are Ambrose Aba, the local politician at Okonobo and the three at Ingle. These are Sunday Egbo, Oche Ochachacha and Friday Ohemu. The fifth is the Mike Onoja.
Why it took nearly two months before the Police boss visited Ugbokolo is not clear but Mr Makama told the chiefs at the meeting he too had not been at rest as details of the development in the area filtered to him and that the chiefs should talk. Apparently assured, the chiefs talked. While one asked for more policemen in the area, another lamented how Ugbokolo and environ has become a space of guns and cultists and yet another about what the police did to a senior citizen of the area who intervened in the matter at some point.
In the end, the Police boss directed the Otukpo Area Command to transfer all those who have spent three years at post in and around Ugbokolo. As at press time, Intervention could not establish why the mass transfer is restricted to only those who have spent that number of years and above, whether those who have spent less than that duration could not act as informants of the ‘bad guys’. It remains unclear too how impactful the decision would be in terms of curbing the violence even as it was understood that Mr Makama condemned all acts of criminality.
Additional information from a statement by Moses Yamu, an Assistant Superintendent of Police and the spokesperson for the Benue State Command showed that the Commissioner was also at Benue Polytechnic, Ugbokolo where he promised a raw deal in the long arm of the law for all actual and potential cultists. According to Yamu’s statement, the Commissioner of Police condemned all acts of criminality, appealing to stakeholders and other well meaning individuals to assist the police fish out criminal elements by providing useful information.
It is too soon to know what the outcome of the visit would be in terms of reduction/elimination of criminality. If what is coming to those with ears on the ground are anything to go by, it is still a tough journey ahead. “Ugbokolo and the surrounding areas are all in trouble. What is on the ground there is complicated” are the kinds of statements one still hears. There is no doubt among the people in the capacity of the police to solve the problem. Whether the police would go that far is what is at issue.