From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Cross River Police Command said it has arrested five suspects involved in kidnapping of prominent citizens in Obudu Local Government Area of the state.
The suspects include three women, allegedly from Ohong, one from Betukwel, and another from Bette in Obudu council.
Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Irene Ugbo, told newsmen in Calabar, at the weekend, that the gang members were arrested by detectives who were on patrol along cross River and Benue states.
He said the suspects are being interrogated and would be charged to court soon.
Meanwhile, the police command has warned residents against engaging in jungle justice, saying it will deal with any one or group of persons caught in the act. In the last couple of weeks, angry mob had set ablaze about seven suspected armed robbers within Calabar metropolis.
The latest was burning of a mechanic, simple identified as Umamn, a suspected car battery theft in Calabar South.
Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Mohammed Inuwa, who made this known when he briefed newsmen in Calabar, at the weekend, said it was against the law for anybody to accost suspects and lynch them.
Expressing displeasure at the recent lynching of suspected criminals in certain parts of Calabar metropolis, he said accosting and burning suspected criminals instead of handing over the suspects to appropriate authorities for prosecution is barbaric.
Inuwa said: “No one can be convicted for any offence outside a competent court of law and warned residents that where such incidents occur again, his men have express directives to arrest and prosecute those identified as having carried out such an act.”
On allegations of some of his officers and men colluding with criminals and even expose the identity of informants to suspects, he said: “It is quite regrettable and we are working round the clock to identify and prosecute such bad eggs in the interest of the public.
“So, we are appealing to members of the public to help the police identify such officers and men by sharing information with my office directly and other senior officers.”
While complaining about a shortage of operational vehicles to help his men patrol the state effectively, he denied knowledge of the purported 200 vehicles that the state government said it had in recent times handed over to the police. “I did not see that in the notes handed over to me by my predecessor.”
Meanwhile, stakeholders at a public hearing of the constitutional and electoral review committee of the Federal Government held in Calabar, have demanded creation of Ogoja State and scrapping of the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs).
Presenting their demands, they disclosed that Ogoja is the only old province in the country without a state and demanded that the people of old Ogoja be compensated with a state.
A community leader and founder of Ogoja New Renaissance, Victor Ibong, canvassed the creation of Ogoja State, saying the old Calabar and Ogoja regions have remained neglected despite being among the oldest regions in the country.
Ibong said it was the height of marginalisation to have denied the Ogoja people a state when Abakaliki province, carved out from old Ogoja province in 1969, had got Ebonyi State.
He urged the constitutional review committee to look into it and redressed the injustice against Cross River.
Leader of Youths for Ogaja State Creation, Agbor Ogar, said the people have both human and natural resources to sustain a state and wondered why elders of Ogoja are dilly-dallying in agitating vociferously for the state.
Meanwhile, former head of service in the state, Chief Wilfred Inah, has accused governors of stifling operations of local government and making elections at that level a one party affair.
Inah called on the committee to scrap SIECs and allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections into the three tiers of government.
Leader of Coalition of Civil Society Groups in the state, Iso Bassey, also called for the scrapping of SIEC, saying members are merely stooges in the hands of the governors.
Bassey alleged that in some states where they monitored local polls, SIECs were compelled to announce results which does not reflect the true wishes of the majority of voters.