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Police in Edo hide uniforms

Posted by VINCENT ADEKOYE, Benin on 2004/10/28 | Views: 1219 |

Police in Edo hide uniforms


PALPABLE fear has gripped officers and men of the Edo State police command following its seeming inability, as at yesterday afternoon, to locate three of their colleagues abducted by armed robbers who attacked a checkpoint on the Benin-Akure road Tuesday.

•To evade robbers

•Blame Oyo over Ige

PALPABLE fear has gripped officers and men of the Edo State police command following its seeming inability, as at yesterday afternoon, to locate three of their colleagues abducted by armed robbers who attacked a checkpoint on the Benin-Akure road Tuesday.

During the attack on the six-man checkpoint team, one policeman was killed on the spot, three others shot, injured and abducted while two who survived with gunshot injuries, allegedly died early yesterday morning, bringing the death toll to three.

Yesterday, several police personnel who reported for work in the state capital, came in mufti, dorning their uniforms only on reaching their stations.

The development came as Force Headquarters, Abuja, blamed the office of the Oyo State Attorney-General for the quality of legal advice on the Bola Ige matter.

In Benin about 10 armed men in two cars invaded the police check-point and opened fire on the six mobile policemen on duty killing one instantly.

Speaking with Daily Champion on the attack, police commissioner, Mr. Paul Ochonu, disclosed yesterday that a crack team had been raised to arrest the robbers.

Said he: "We are still on the matter and we shall soon get these robbers."

Investigation revealed that officers and men of the command are now generally apprehensive over an apparent unleashing of terror on policemen in the state, a development which has left no fever than 15 policemen dead in the past one month.

Tuesday’s attack came barely one month after the gruesome murder of eight policemen on the streets of Benin by a gang of robbers.

Three weeks ago, a luxury bus with 70 passengers was hijacked in Benin by armed men who looted, robbed, raped and killed some of the passengers.

Two weeks ago, the convoy of Gov. James Ibori of Delta State was attacked in Benin and two policemen killed during the incident.

Meanwhile, the shoe was onthe other foot yesterday as the police High Command blamed the office of Oyo State Attorney-General (AG) for the quality of legal advice offered it (police) after investigations into the December 23, 2001 assassination of Chief Bola Ige (SAN).

Chief Ige, the serving Justice Minister and Attorney-General of the Federation at the time, was shot to death in the bedroom of his Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State residence by still unknwon persons.

The issue which rattled the country, leading to the arrest, arraignment and susequent discharge of several suspects, among them Senator Iyiola Omisore, took a new turn last Monday when the Oyo AG, Mr. Lekan Latinwo told newsmen in the state capital that but for shoddy police investigation of the killing, the actual assassins of Chief Ige would have by now, being ailed by the courts.

Latinwo said, inter alia: "It should be pointed out that I was not then then Attorney-General and this administration had not come on board then. We all know who was in power when the investigation was conducted and proof of evidence filed and recorded. This administration (of Gov. Rashidi Ladoja) inherited this case after one-and-a-half years of its inception."

But, responding, police, through its spokesman, Deputy Commissioner Chris Olakpe, in a statement, said, following Ige’s death, the Nigerian Police Force not only meticulously investigated the matter, but also made valuable arrests."

"At the end of the investigation, the casefile was sent to the office of Oyo State Attorney-General for legal advice."

Olakpe added: "The office of the Oyo State Attorney General after duly scrutinizing the case file in question was completely conviced that some of the suspects arrested by the Nigeria Police have cases to answer. The Legal Advice subsequently issued did not point at any deficiency in police investigation.

"If the Attorney General’s office was not satisfied with our investigation, it would have said so abinitio, saying so now after failing to successfully prosecute the case in court, amounts to nothing but an afterthought.

"It is worthy of note, that from the point when the case file was vetted and suspectes indicted of complicity, and the office of the Attorney General initiated prosecution, the case had completely left the ambit of the Nigeria Police and had become the baby of the Ministry of Justice.

"The Nigeria Police Force does not claim to know it all, that is why the Ministry of Justice is there to professionally and legally vet Police case files and investigation reports, with a view to pin-pointing deficiencies if any, before prosecution.

"However, once the Ministry of Justice is satisfied and had gone ahead and prosecuted the case in question, they cannot turn around to say they were not satisfied with Police investigation any longer.

"The Police High Command expects the Ministry of Justice to collaborate rather than cast aspersion. If there was any error in Police investigation, they are expected to point it out from the beginning for immediate correction.

"That is the best way forward in administration, politics and criminal justice dispensation.

"The Nigeria Police Force is not by this reaction trading words or trying to join issues with the Oyo State Ministry of Justice, rather our aim is to simply set the records straight.

"This reaction will be the last comment the Force will make on this matter, please."

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