There is growing concern among residents and other stakeholders in Edo State over the recent surge of crime in the state.
Though the police have stepped up the fight against violent crimes, such as cult-related killings, armed robbery, murder and kidnapping in the last few weeks, the people are worried that much still needs to be done to halt violent crimes in the state.
Between June and mid August, the police have arrested and paraded over 200 suspects over various crimes such as cultism, armed robbery, murder, rape, kidnapping, among others.
Among those arrested for violent crimes was an 84-year-old Gabriel Ahuwa, who on August 12, allegedly murdered his 75-year-old wife for refusing him sex.
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Parading the suspect, Chidi said the octogenarian has been having issues with his wife over refusal to have sex with him.
Gabriel in an interview with journalists said, “My wife was not listening to me, anytime I asked her to come and sleep with me she always declined.
“I reported the matter to my family and her family too but she failed to listen to them and continued her old ways and I was hearing information that pastors were sleeping with her.”
On July 31, youths from Ivioghe community in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State beat a 71-year-old woman, Mrs Angelina Asekhamhe, to pulp and set her house and property ablaze over alleged witchcraft.
The timely intervention of the police saved her from being set ablaze by the youths.
Between the middle of June and July ending, over 10 persons, mostly youths, were allegedly killed in cult-related killings across the state.
Among the victims were a 38-year-old man identified as Osayomore Alex, Muhammed Abdulsalam, 28, John Aliu, Ehinoma Solomon, Emmanuel Williamson, 21, and Emmanuel Rufus, among others.
Ehinoma Solomon, the Chief Security Officer of Oke-oroma community was murdered on July 9 while coming out of the Church in the presence of his wife and three children.
Also, on June 8, a Reverend Father, Charles Igechi, attached to the Benin Archdiocese of the Catholic Church was kidnapped and murdered by gunmen.
On May 1, a farmer identified as Friday Omosigho committed suicide after macheting his wife, Mercy Omosigho, over alleged infidelity and abandoned her in a pool of blood in the farm at Ehiozevbaru village in Uhunmwode LGA of the state where she died.
The state police command in the middle of July paraded about 36 suspects involved in violent crime in the state. Later in the month, it also paraded another set of 147 suspects and so far in August, it has paraded 50 other suspects for various crimes.
Worried by the rising crime in the state, the government recently recruited and trained 1,500 vigilantes and hunters at the Ogida Police Training School as part of efforts to combat security challenges.
Speaking during a passing-out parade of the trainees, Governor Godwin Obaseki said the personnel would boost community policing across the state.
He said his administration was committed to building the capacity of all security personnel working in the state who are at the forefront of combating crimes.
“The state government recognises the peculiar need for a decentralised and participatory security model which is the current trend in the world,” he said.
Speaking on the situation, a resident, Dada Ayokha, said the upsurge started in the beginning from July following reported cult-related killings.
“There was relative peace before the recent upsurge, which came within the period of subsidy removal and subsequent hike in the price of petrol.
“As you know, the Nigerian economy is tied to fuel price; almost everything you buy or do for a living is tied to fuel. Business owners are feeling the pinch as patronage has dropped. And the best or available alternative to survive becomes crime.
“Outside the fuel-induced crime, it is the desire by the youths to live big. Those youths, especially Yahoo boys, without visible sources of income, show off their wealthy lives on social media and in a bid to also live such a life, other youths take to crimes.
He said for crime to reduce, the government has to create employment and take steps to question people’s sources of income.
A former Assistant Inspector General of Police, Ambrose Aisabor, attributed the rise in crime to unemployment in the country.
“Youths are out of job and have nothing to do. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Crime upsurge is not only in Edo State but across the country. So, the major cause of the high level of crime is unemployment in the country.”
He said once there is a high rate of unemployment, there is bound to be a high level of crime and criminality.
“To solve this, the government should declare a national emergency on security. Security agents should do more on intelligence gathering because without intelligence, you can’t tackle the insecurity in the country.
“The mechanism of intelligence gathering in the country is faulty and without intelligence you can’t tackle insecurity and the security architecture of the country is very weak and inefficient,” he said.
Also speaking, the Enogie of Ilobe community, in Uhunmwonde Local Government Area, HRH Enadikhe Aimuanmwosa, said the community has a security architecture in place to safeguard it.
“We have organised the vigilantes that secure the community from criminals. We meet twice in a month to discuss security issues and strengthen our security architecture. We also have internal laws in place that regulate and guide the people to ensure peace,” he said.
Speaking on the fight against crime in the state, the police spokesperson, Chidi Nwabuzor, said the Commissioner of Police, CP Mohammed Dankwara, has put several measures in place to address crimes and criminality in the state.
“Edo is enjoying peace but we wouldn’t say it is a crime-free situation because no society is free of crime, but Edo people can close their eyes and sleep because the level of crime has drastically reduced,” he said.
Nwabuzor said the command has put effective policing structures such as visibility police patrol, bush and forest combing to ensure that criminal elements in the state are dislodged and ensure that the forests are not harbouring them.
“The commissioner has also introduced stop and search in which officers man strategic positions to search for stolen arms and ammunition being carried in vehicles by criminal elements.
“Also, the command and divisional police stations carry out raid exercises in their respective areas to smoke out criminal elements in their criminal hideout and black spots across the state,” he added.
Chidi explained that the police also partner with the Edo State Security Network such as hunters and vigilantes and as well as other sister security agents to ensure a crime-free society.
“CP also encourages the citizens to give useful information to the police as a way of expanding intelligence gathering and networks. These measures have been effective and working for us in crime fighting in the state, he said.
He said though there was an upsurge in kidnapping, cultism and other related activities, the CP, recognising the power of citizens and stakeholders, brought all together to discuss the issue, adding, “That has brought normalcy and reduced secret cult fight and killings and the peace we are having now.”
“In July, the command paraded secret cult members. We first paraded 36, then 147 and just this August, we paraded another group of 50 suspects for cultism and other related offences. These are what the command is doing to ensure that the citizens have peace.”
Meanwhile, the Edo State House of Assembly has raised the alarm over spate of kidnappings in the state.
The lawmakers, in a resolution, charged the state government to procure drones for surveillance of the state in order to curb the resurging kidnapping in the state.
They also called on the Commissioner for Public Safety and Security to commence full surveillance of roads and communities to address the security challenges.
The motion was co- sponsored by member representing Akoko-Edo II, Mr Donald Okogbe, Mrs Maria Edeko and nine others.