Indigenes of Edo State, under an umbrella group called Concerned Citizens of Edo State, have demanded that the State’s Commissioner of Police, Mr Haliru Gwandu, should immediately comply with his redeployment by the Police Service Commission (PSC), noting that his continued stay and ‘gross incompetence’ has given criminals freedom to cause mayhem in the state.
The group, which led protests from Edo House to the Louis Edet House and the National Assembly complex in Abuja, on Monday, decried the insistence of the commissioner of Police in Edo State, Mr Gwandu, to hold on to his office after being posted out of the command about three months ago. They called on the presidency, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and the National Assembly, to prevail on the matter, and see to it that the PSC posting is obeyed to the latter.
In a letter addressed to leaders of the National Assembly and the Presidency, and signed by its coordinator, Henry Okpamen, the group said, “We, the concerned citizens of Edo State, are gathered here today to share our pains with Mr President, the President of Senate and the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives and all their members on the worsening security situation in our State. While Mr Governor and his Cabinet, with cooperation from the revered Benin Monarch, Oba Ewuare II, are working round the clock to encourage investments into Edo State, the Inspector General of Police has refused to support the government of Edo State in this effort.”
They said that the centrality of Edo State has made it vulnerable to people from different parts of the country, who come in with sundry interests, noting that Okada, Okpella, Ekenwan, Auchi-Ekpoma-Benin axis of the state are flashpoints of crime, which call for responsive and intelligent policing.
The group noted that it was surprising that Mr Gwandu was redeployed from the state about three months ago by the PSC, but he has since colluded with the IGP and other elements at the presidency to frustrate the enforcement of the directive. They stated that the posting, which was contained in a release by the PSC on July 5, 2017, has left many in Edo confused because, though one Mr Johnson Babatunde Kokumo was announced Edo State Commissioner of Police, Mr Haliru Gwandu and his minions still hold sway in the state.
They said that while previous Police Commissioners posted to the state worked assiduously to check criminal activities in well-known security flashpoints, the present Commissioner, Mr Gwandu applied a “lethargic and a rather nonchalant attitude” to his job.
According to the group, “the incompetence of Mr Gwandu came to the fore in March 2017, when a former Council Chairman of Etsako East, Suleiman Malik Afegbua and some other persons were kidnapped by suspected herdsmen along the Benin-Ehor road. Afegbua was later killed by the kidnappers.
“Strangely, while the family was still negotiating the release of the other persons that were kidnapped along with him, Mr Haliru Gwandu announced gleefully to the whole world that the kidnappers had been arrested by his men, which was not true. This breach of trust demonstrates that Mr Gwandu was out of touch with reality and incapable of relying on security reports to manage delicate situations in the State.
“Even after this well-publicized incident involving Suleiman Afegbua, herdsmen continued to operate freely in that area and this led to the kidnapping and killing of innocent, vulnerable farmers especially women in Ewu, Uromi, Ubiaja and Ebigbere communities of the state. “
The group said the State Police Commissioner has refused to cooperate with other security operatives in the state, which has often jeopardized the lives of innocent citizens. To buttress this point, they said, “For instance, when Dr. Andy Ehanire, the renowned environmentalist and conservationist was kidnapped on Sunday 24th of September 2017, which led to three police officers being killed in the process, available information indicates that there was ample and advanced intelligence report showing that criminal elements were planning to invade the area at that period.
“However, Mr. Haliru Gwandu, in his characteristic incompetence, slept away and decided to leave the criminals to operate freely and put the lives of his officers at the mercy of the killers. Without a doubt, this situation has precipitated fear all over the state and low morale among the officers.”
They continued, “While the family of the slain policemen were still mourning, the family of the kidnapped victim and government were still negotiating with the kidnappers, another incident took place on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 with the kidnapping of the renowned musician, Ambassador Osayomore Joseph. Mr. Gwandu, knowing fully well the security situation in the state was sighted on Televison attending a security summit which some of us refer to as a jamboree in Port Harcourt. Mr. Gwandu refused to establish a situation room to update the people of the state on what steps and progress had been made in the effort to apprehend the kidnappers of the two renowned Edo Personalities.”