“We will intensify our operations on hideouts of armed robbers and cultists to carry out targeted raids on criminal hideouts and conduct stop-and-search operations.”
Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Joseph Mukan, the recently redeployed Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State, was quite confident when asked by newsmen on his mission to the state shortly after his resumption in Yenagoa.
There had been allegations by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that he was deployed for political reasons. But the police boss said his mission was simply to fight crime.
“We know the responsibilities of the police. The police’s job is like a call to duty; a policeman is expected to be a professional. The basic responsibility is the protection of life and property; that is the main mission I have in Bayelsa” Mukan said.
Indeed, Mukan, whose last post was head of the Special Fraud Unit, Force Headquarters, Abuja, seemed to have demonstrated the claim that he was in Bayelsa to maintain law and order, especially with the swift investigation and arrest of suspected killers in the gruesome murder of 16-year-old Seiyefa Fred. The murder of Seiyefa was like a baptism of fire for Mukan, prompting him to deploy intelligence gathering to crack the case.
Amarata, where the murder was committed, was an area thickly populated by cultists and criminal elements that have elevated the act of terrorising innocent citizens to a routine in Yenagoa metropolis. Police commissioners that had served in Bayelsa, from Asuquo Amba to Austin Iwar, had, from their analysis, identified cultism as the cause of other crimes. And findings by Mukan were not different.
He had said: “Upon assumption of office and after an in-depth analysis of the crime pattern, I noticed that the most prevalent crimes in the state were cultism, armed robbery and rape.”
The crime picture was worrisome and the police boss said he had to devise means to bring every critical stakeholder on deck to tackle the alarming upsurge of crime in Yenagoa metropolis.
“I embarked on community engagement meeting with traditional rulers, youth bodies, community development committees (CDC) and vigilance groups,” he said.
The engagement yielded the desired results, with the vigilance groups, led by the Bayelsa State Vigilante Service (BSVS), playing a pivotal in the arrest of the suspected killers of Seiyefa. Intelligence provided by residents of Amarata and witness accounts proved to be helpful in cracking the Seiyefa murder case.
Parkins Ogede, coordinator of BSVS, said: “That girl was killed in Amarata community in Yenagoa. From the first day, the police public relations officer (PPRO) and I went to the scene, saw the parents and interviewed people that witnessed the incident. Based on the information available to us, we zeroed the crime to some people. We were also reliably informed to work on these certain persons.”
The persistence in intelligence gathering helped to nab 20-year-old Junior Daumunabo, who had been singled out in the killing of Seiyefa.
“In the morning of Thursday, November 15, we received a distress call that one of the persons we were making enquires about was around and committing a crime. We got there and he was already in one house robbing people, while two boys were watching the streets for him. The two boys ran away when they saw us and we went into the house to arrest him,” Ogede said.
Daumunabo was paraded with other suspects arrested for cultism and robbery, including one Ezeagi who allegedly supplied arms and ammunition to criminals, at the Police Command Headquarters.
Daumunabo confessed to being a member of Greenland cult group notorious of robbing people of their phones. He said, however, that because he was scared that the late Seiyefa could identify him, he did not participate in the operation that killed her and sat at a nearby supermarket to wait for the other members of the gang.
“When they came back, they said they killed the girl, and I asked why? They told me the
girl was dragging the phone with them and they shot her. I didn’t shoot her. I didn’t follow them in the operation,” Daumunanbo said amid sobs.
Daumunanbo, who gave the names of two other gang members as Richman and Inemo, admitted that he was a serial phone robber and was caught in the act by the BSVS.
“We were three going to steal phones and we were in a tricycle. Suddenly, members of the Bayelsa State Vigilante Service appeared. Two others with me ran away and I was caught in the process. They retrieved the gun from my hand. I have been robbing people of their phones,” he said.
The Bayelsa State government was elated over the arrest of Daumunabo. Special adviser to the governor on security, Dr. Boma Spero-Jack, vowed that those who killed Seiyefa and their counterparts who “constitute a threat to the lives of innocent Bayelsans” would be made to face the wrath of the law.
The police have brushed aside the noise being made by politicians to politicise an obviously serious security situation. Before his redeployment, Mukan said a lot still needed to be done in Bayelsa to curb crime and rid the state of criminal elements, especially now that the state was in a political season.
“Most of the crimes committed are driven by cultism and abuse of illicit drugs,” he said. “We will intensify our operations on hideouts of armed robbers and cultists to carry out targeted raids on criminal hideouts and conduct stop-and-search operations.”
The BSVS was established by the Governor Henry Seriake Dickson administration to help in urban security, especially with the lack of enough policemen in the country. The body is a 1,500-member group set up primarily to provide community-based intelligence in the neighbourhood to conventional security agencies to curb crime and criminality in Bayelsa State.
“We were created by the government and inaugurated by Governor Henry Dickson. You can attest to it that Governor Dickson sees security as number one priority. He wants the safety of lives and property,” Ogede said.
“Dickson bought into the BSVS due to the lack of manpower and scant knowledge of the crime terrain in Yenagoa metropolis and other parts of the state. We are from the state and we understand the terrain and the kind of crimes that are committed here. So, the Governor deemed it fit to assist the police and other security agencies.
“Bayelsa is in the season of politics and it is in the interest of all residents of the state to take active part in security matters. Community policing involves everybody, and security is the business of everybody.”