Akwa Ibom State Police command has announced the arrest of 16 suspected members of a kidnap syndicate, responsible for high profile killings and kidnapping in Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun local governments of the state.
The arrest and burst of the cartel was made possible through a “well planned and coordinated operation.”
At an interactive session at the weekend the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Police, CP Zubairu Muazu, said the activities of the cartel had created so much fear in the minds of the people, and to erase such fears his command launched an undercover operation.
“To build a peace process where crisis had occurred in the past, you need to pass through a lot of stages. Fears were already in the minds of the people and they feel unsafe, and to erase this fear we have to launch an undercover operation.”
“It went as far as people dropping threat messages to individuals in Ukanafun – ‘come and bring a certain amount of money or else we will kill you’ – We got quite a number of such letters and threat messages, we analyze them and identified the syndicate and then launched an attack,” the CP said.
Muazu who spoke through the command’s Police Public Relations Officer, DSP, Bala Elkana, said so many weapons and other items were recovered from the suspects who were also helping the command with useful information.
Elkana who also reviewed the security situation in the restive local governments said the reactive approach adopted by the command in the past has helped the situation.
This he said necessitated not only the introduction of the “Operation Purge” by the new commissioner but also talking to the people.
“There has been this reactive approach where police move in there, investigate and make arrests. That has not actually helped, so the C.P. decided to take this proactive measures not just deploying troops but also meeting with the people.
“He was with the two communities where he held about two different meetings, discussed, identified and agreed on the solutions with the people,” he said.
The command spokesperson disclosed that part of such solutions was to identify some buffers zones where the operation could be carried out just to reassure the people of police presence.
However, the PPRO said the only approach that would bring more lasting solution to the two communities was the community policing approach, where the people would be actively involved in and identifying their problems and preferring solution themselves.