The brutal murder of SP Bako Agbashim, the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Ahoada headquarters, came to residents with pain and sorrow. Those that knew the police officer or came in contact with him are yet to come to terms with his painful demise given his fighting spirit against crime.
At Bori in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, from where he was redeployed to Ahoada, his death brought gloomy faces in the entire Ogoni Kingdom, where he fought cultists and daredevil armed robbers to a standstill.
Unconfirmed report has it that Agbashim lost his family members to criminals during his stay at Bori, but that did not deter him as he continued the fight against criminality.
For residents of Ogoni, Fenima and Ahoada, where he served, his exit is also painful.
The lawmaker representing Khana/Gokana federal constituency, Dumnamene Robinson Dekor, said the death of the police officer came with a rude shock, adding that it is not only a loss to the Nigeria Police Force but Rivers State as well.
He described Agbashim as one of the rare species among policemen, saying he distinguished himself through crime fighting.
A former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Chibudom Nwuche, condemned the killing of the DPO and called on the authorities to fish out the perpetrators of the dastardly act.
He also called on various communities to assist law enforcement agencies with information that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of all the perpetrators of the act.
Lamenting over the death of Agbashim, a resident of Bori, Ben Nebari, said, “Many of us that knew him received the news of his death with agony. He was a household name in the entire Ogoni land when he was the DPO at Bori. Men, women and youths knew him.
“He was very accessible and responded promptly anytime there was an emergency. He did not have protocols. Ogoni had experienced serious issues of insecurity before he was deployed to the area but his dogged fight brought peace. We will really miss him.”
Another resident of Bori, Mene Obari, said he carried out his responsibilities with passion and diligence. “Anytime he was going for operation he went on barefoot. He would always say he preferred moving about without footwear to enable him run without obstruction anytime the need arose.
“Soon after he resumed as DPO, he got rid of criminals at Khana. The peace we are enjoying today at Bori and the entire Khana is as a result of his dogged fighting spirit,” he said.
Also, a resident of Ahoada who pleaded anonymity said the deceased DPO was a torn in the fresh of many criminals in that area.
“When he was deployed to Ahoada, we all received the news with joy because we had heard of his exploits at Bori, Akinima and Fenima. Soon after he resumed duty he declared zero tolerance to crime and hit the ground running. All the cultists and other criminal elements operating in our area were on the run as he went after them. He led operations by himself and took the war to the criminals’ den. The way he was killed is very painful,” he said.
Some of the colleagues of the DPO who spoke with our correspondent under the condition of anonymity described him as a workaholic who carried his duties with diligence.
“The death of Agbashim came to us as a big shock. He went to tough areas where others were afraid of. At times I would wonder what power that drove him. He carried out his duties with passion, and that was the reason they sent him to tough areas. We will miss him greatly,” a police officer who pleaded anonymity said.
Another police officer said, “To work with Bako Agbashim, you must be very diligent and honest. He did not take bribe and did not comprise his stand for integrity. So it was very difficult to work with him if you were not diligent and upright. He was a no-nonsense officer that went for the kill in terms of crime fighting.”
Agbashim’s deployment from Bori to Ahoada sent jitters down the spines of cultists and deadly criminals that operated in the area as his name was terror.
His bravery, gallantry, fearlessness and energy with which he confronted criminals placed him ahead of his colleagues.
Before he was posted to Akinima, Fenima and Bori, cultism and deadly crimes, such as kidnapping, cult related killings, armed robbery and murder of innocent residents had become the order of the day, but he sanitised the area.
Daily Trust Saturday learnt that cultists had become very powerful in the area as some prominent politicians and notable traditional rulers engaged jobless youths in one way or another to assert their authorities and undo whoever that crossed their paths. As a result of this, different cult groups engaged in war of superiority.
It was learnt that when DPO Agbashim was moved from Finima to Bori, residents of the community protested.
Before SP Bako Agbashim, who was celebrated and given chieftaincy titles and referred to as a Wonderful DPO, was redeployment to Ahoada, criminal activities of different cult groups had given both the state government and security agencies sleepless nights.
Two cult groups, such Icelanders and Greenlenders variously engaged in war of superiority. They have different operational commands with military ranks ascribed to their different leaders.
It was learnt that during the general elections, many of them were said to have been engaged by politicians to perpetrate electoral fraud and political violence. Residents of the area lived in fear because of the tension created by the groups. Nightlife in Ahoada was a nightmare to residents, just as many of them relocated to safer places.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that after reviewing the security situation in the area, the commissioner of police in Rivers State, Polycarp Emeka Nwaonyi, redeployed SP Agbashim to Ahoada and gave him a marching order to get rid of the deadly cult groups.
While many of the residents received his redeployment with happiness, cultists were not happy because they saw him as a threat to their criminal activities. And in less than one week he resumed as DPO, he took war to the camps of the cult groups and dealt mercilessly with them.
Some of them were killed while some repented and surrendered their arms. The once volatile Ahoada became peaceful and many of the residents who hitherto relocated from the communities began to return.
In the meantime, the public relations officer of the Rivers State police command, SP Grace Iringe Koko, said six suspects were arrested in Egbemude community and a locally made pistol and various charms were recovered.
Koko said the suspects and the confiscated items were under police custody at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Port Harcourt as investigation is ongoing.
She said a new DPO, SP Zuokumor Richard, had been assigned to the division, accompanied by half of a unit of men from Mopol 48, one-third unit from Mopol 19, 56 and tactical teams. She added that the new DPO was tasked to thoroughly search the area and arrest those responsible for the DPO’s death, as well as recover his body and operational weapon.
Residents desert community
Residents of Odumude were said to have deserted the community following the manhunt launched by the police to fish out the killers of SP Bako Angbashim. Community sources said many of the residents were afraid of the unknown.
A resident who simply gave his name as Ikechukwu said the community was empty because of the heavy presence of the police.
Rivers DPO: Police kill four, prime suspect flees
The Rivers State Police Command said its men have killed four suspects linked to the murder of the Ahoada Divisional Police Officer, Superintendent Bako Angbashim.
Also, it said three members of the dare-devil gang were arrested with a locally made pistol recovered, but that Gift Okpara David, the prime suspect who captured and decapitated the gallant police officer fled during a fierce gun battle with operatives in Odumude community, Ahoada West local government area of Rivers State.
The State Commissioner of Police, Emeka Nwonyi, disclosed this at a news briefing at the Command Headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Nwonyi expressed annoyance that despite the murder of SP Angbashim, the miscreants were still ready to inflict more pain on the command, saying they opened fire immediately they cited operatives who responded with superiour fire power leading to the death of four of them.
He however stated that despite the grief as a result of Angbashim’s gruesome murder, the operation would be sustained until the gang leader and other fleeing gang members are arrested and made to face the law.
He stated,”On 10th of September, 2023 at about 10:30hrs actionable intelligence revealed that a gang of notorious Iceland cultists, armed robbery suspects and kidnappers led by one Gift David Okpara, aka 2 Baba who led his notorious gang to brutally murder SP Bako Angbashim, the DPO of Ahoada on 8th September, 2023 where in their hideout on Odumude forest in Ahoada West LGA.
“Following the information, a combined team of Command Tactical Operatives and Area Command Ahoada stormed the forest in an effort to arrest the notorious hoodlums and possibly recover the corpse of the late officer.
“The hoodlums were battle ready to inflict more injuries and casualties on police, immediately engaging the police in a fierce gun battle, during which four of the notorious hoodlums who are yet-to-be identified sustained fatal gun injuries while others escaped into the forest.
“The suspects were arrested and a locally made pistol recovered from them. Meanwhile the four notorious criminals who sustained injuries were rushed to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital for medical attention but were confirmed dead by the Doctor on duty. Operation is still ongoing, to be sustained to arrest the notorious gang leader and others.”
Governor Fubara places N100m bounty on prime suspect
Meanwhile, the Rivers State governor, Sir Similanayi Fubara, reiterated the commitment of the state government to guarantee the security of all residents, and assured that he would do everything in his power to apprehend Okpolowu and his gang and bring them to justice.
In a press statement he personally signed, the governor also promised to give N100 million to anybody that would volunteer information that would lead to the arrest of Okpolowu (2-Baba) and other members of his gang.
Fubara also suspended the traditional ruler of Ahoada, Eze Cassidy Ikepidi over what he described as act of complicity and ceding the control of his territory to cultists.
The governor stated, “The prime suspect, Mr Gift David Okpara Okpolowu (2-Baba) and all members of his criminal gang are hereby declared wanted. Secondly, a bounty of N100million is hereby placed on his head for anyone who gives useful information that would lead to his arrest and prosecution. Thirdly, His Majesty, Eze Cassidy Ikegbidi, Eze Igbu Akoh II, is hereby suspended indefinitely for acts of complicity in ceding the control of his territory to the notorious David Gift and his gang to freely operate and carry out their criminal activities.”