The place nicknamed ‘Sambisa Forest’ in Ollo Village in Edumoga District in Benue State is finally being raided by the Nigeria Police. The operation which is on-going right now (Friday morning, June 16th, 2017) has, however, hit an initial brick wall as the ‘bad boys’ are believed to have ran away. How far they did is unknown yet but those informed about Ollo Village and its geography say they might be taking advantage of the most prominent natural barrier there. Ollo Village is where the forest is located.
Locals are seething with anger over the reported escape of the ‘bad guys’, linking it to the strong belief in ‘fifth columns’ in the Police who act as informants and protectors to the suspected gangsters. On May 24th, 2017 when the Benue State Commissioner of Police, Mr Bashir Makama, visited Ugbokolo and traditional rulers complained of policemen and women acting as informants to the ‘bad guys’, he ordered the transfer of all those who have spent more than four years within Ugbokolo Divisional Police post.
Intervention has, however, been authoritatively informed that the police are making arrests. Described by well located sources as a seriously organised raid, this might be what the State Commissioner of Police has been reported as saying would begin after Local Government Council elections in the state. The said election took place two weeks ago.
Analysts are hypothesising that with his grassroots knowledge of the District and the dynamics of the banditry, Mr Oloofu Ogwuche, the newly elected Chairman of Okpokwu LGC might be of help in making the police go far very quickly in the current onslaught. The onslaught is coming six months into a rural banditry that attained its current level since late January 2017. No less than 30 persons have been killed in the siege by otherwise handsome and even talented young men well known around Ugbokolo and surrounding settlements and villages since then. They created a state of fear described as never seen before in basically very rural settlements devoid of peculiarly urban tension such as armed robbery, rape and related acts of violence.
The last known state response was June 1st, 2017 when military and Mobile Police conveyed in 10 Hilux vans arrived Ugbokolo town and were understood to be on the task of raiding the much talked about and much feared ‘Sambisa Forest’ at Ollo. It has since been understood that the team went no further than Ugbokolo town. Since then, only the neighbourhood vigilantes that arose at the height of the criminality has been the intervening variable.
No contact with the Benue Police Command has been immediately possible but all other credible sources involved have an idea of the raid. Intervention would follow up as it develops.