…Suspects with grenades to attack homes arrested
…240 kidnap, robbery , rape suspects arrested in 10 months
…40 abducted victims rescued , 1598 arms, ammunition recovered
…As CP Usman reveals strategy of arrest
Niger State in the North Central geopolitical zone of Nigeria has been bedeviled by criminal elements who unleash mayhem on defenseless residents with reckless abandon.
Like every other state in the northern part of the country, Niger state which is considered as the largest state in Nigeria, is faced with security challenges ranging from kidnap, banditry, cattle rustling and communal clash between farmers and cattle rearers. But one unique security challenge confronting the state is banditry. This is because it shares boundary with flash-point states like Kaduna, Kebbi and Zamfara, where there are camps of bandits.
These bandits as gathered, come into Niger State to carry out their nefarious activities unhindered and thereafter, return to their bases. At times they kidnap villagers with the connivance residents, and thereafter, demand ransom for their release. Sometimes they rape women and cart away cattle and other valuables. Unfortunately, help is usually far for the victims, owing to poor and inaccessible roads , especially when it rains.
Also , Crime Guard’s investigation revealed that some of the affected communities do not have communication network, a disadvantage that aids successful operations whenever bandits strike. By the time news of the attack will reach security agencies , the bandits would have left with their loots.
Communities seriously affected include : Munya, Shiroro, Rafi, Mariga , Rijau and Kontagora Local Government Areas .
Determined to checkmate activities of these bandits, Commissioner of Police, Niger State Police Command, CP Adamu Usman , upon assuming duty as the command boss in July 2019, put machinery in place. Today that singular act seems to be yielding results, owing to the number of arrests of suspects terrorizing the state.
Statistics at Crime Guard’s disposal revealed that between January and October 2020, 240 suspects were arrested by the Niger State Police Command, with the recovery of 72 arms and 1,526 ammunition.
The recovered arms included five AK 47 riffles, two AK 49 riffles, 25 Magazines, two Air riffles, , nine locally made pistols, six locally fabricated short guns, 20 Single Barrel Dane guns and three Pump Action. Forty-nine other weapons which included 15 cutlasses , 11 knives and 23 sticks were also recovered.
In addition, 1,142 cattle, 658 sheep and two donkeys , including 18 vehicles were recovered in the period under review.
Kidnapping ranks highest
A breakdown of the 240 arrested suspects showed that kidnap suspects were the highest number of arrest made in the state, with 87 suspects. There were reportedly 26 reported cases of kidnap, with 40 of the victims released by the command within 10 months.
Minors as rape victims
Culpable homicide ranked second ,with 74 suspects arrested, out of 13 cases reported. Rape and sexual assault ranked third with 23 suspects arrested , while 21 armed robbery suspects were arrested.
Surprisingly, most victims of rape and sexual assault were girls between ages six and 12. Some of these minors were lured with money as low as N100 by pedophiles old enough to be their grandfathers, in some cases.
An instance was the arrest of a Septuagenarian , identified simply as Mohammed who was arrested for allegedly defiling a 10 year-old girl in Chanchaga area f Minna, Niger State capital , four months ago. Another arrest of 60-year-old Haruna Lawal, a Scavenger, Haruna Mohammed , was made three months ago in Wushishi local Government Area of the state. In this case, the suspect was alleged to have raped a nine-year-old girl, after luring her with N100.
Investigation also showed that parents of some of the victims most times stood in the way of security agencies ,in prosecuting rape aspects , as they usually kicked against Police intervention, attributing culture and stigma as the cause.
But Crime Guard learned that part of the strategy put in place by the Niger State Police Command boss, CP Usman , to prosecute perpetrators of rape, was to collaborate with the state government and other agencies on Child Right, to follow such cases to their logical conclusion in terms of prosecution, while the command through its Sexual Assault Referral Centre, SARC at its clinic , administers treatment on victims.
Statistics further showed that out of the 240 suspects arrested, 18 of them were involved in vehicles theft , with 10 cases recorded , while 17 others were arrested for cattle rustling.
In one of the arrests made, the suspects were found with five hand grenades which they intended to attack victims homes.
The duo of Musa Saba, 20, and Anas Adamu 23, confessed during interrogation to have come from Adamawa state to operate in Niger. Two AK47 riffles , eight magazines and 211 live ammunition were recovered from them according to the Command’s spokesman, ASP Wasiu Abiodun.
Also arrested during the period under review, was one Ibrahm Mohammed ,popularly known as Shagari , of Zaria Local government area of Kaduna state, with the recovery of one AK 47 riffle. He was arrested along Minna –Sarkin Pawa road , Munya Local Government Area , one of the areas which suffers bandits attack. The suspect as gathered, confessed during interrogation to be among the group of bandits terrorizing Munya, Shiroro and its environs.
Another feat recorded by the command was the arrest of one Abubakar Adamu , 35, of Kuspa Suleja, three months ago. He was arrested with 375 live ammunition of 7.62mm caliber and seven magazines .
During interrogation, he disclosed that he specialized in transporting arms and ammunition for robbers and kidnappers, using one Honda civic vehicle with registration number AY 280 KTN.
Same month, one Aliyu Bangaje , 30, and Yusuf Maikoma 28, both of Mararaba Dandaudu and Injita villages in Munya local government area of Niger, were arrested for allegedly kidnapping some female victims in Kabula forest in Munya.
The victims according to the command, were rescued unhurt , with two locally made short guns recovered from the suspects.
Crime Guard was reliably informed that some of the recovered arms and ammunition were concealed in different bags of food stuff , apparently to facilitate their movements from one area to the other.
One of such arrest was made at a park in Minna, where six locally fabricated short guns and 18 cartridges concealed inside a bag of cassava flour , popularly called garri for transportation. Consequently, one Danjuma Toko, 25, of Zuru Kebi State was arrested.
Another case was that of the arrest of one Mrs Adora Didi, 39, of Rafi-Sanyi in Suleja. She was also arrested at a motor park in Suleja, where she had gone to claim a bag of slippers. Surprisingly, 750 cartridges were concealed inside the bag said to have been sent to her from Onitsha, Anambra State .
However, during interrogation, she claimed to be oblivious of the cartridges, stating that she was expecting slippers only.
A recent arrest was that of an 11-man gang said to have been terrorizing residents of Minna and its environs. They were arrested with various cars later discovered to have been stolen.
Another recent arrest was that of a syndicate which specialized in drugging their victims with tea laced with tramadol,
The suspects: Abdullahi Makurdi , 27,from Katsina state and Rabiu Abdullahi , 23 , from Kano state, were said to have carted N6 million belonging to a businessman , who was drugged with an overdose tramadol which the victim concluded was tea.
They were however arrested in Kano State four days later, at the verge of fleeing the country. At the time of arrest, only N3.8 million out of the N6 million was recovered from them.
Asked how the command was able to beat the suspects in their game, CP Usman, attributed it to the application of the Community Policing concept as well as bold steps taken by the command.
According to him: “ The first thing we did was to identify some boarder areas where these bandits gain access into Niger state and we deployed our police personnel along these axis, particularly in Munya , Shiroro and Rigil local government areas.
“ In addition to the deployment ,we also carried out special operation known as Sharandaji, where operatives move from one place to another , to assist in checking activities of bandits. So far the state is relatively calm.
“ Anther security challenge in Niger state is youth restiveness. But we have been able to check this by way of having contacts with the youths. Prior to #EndSARS in Niger state, I was able to establish youths committee, where we involve the youths in security situation in the state. During the EndSARS problem, we called the youths, talked to them and they understood the reason why they should not do what will affect the community.
“We also have community policing concept on ground. This is in addition to having the Police Community Relation Committee , PCRC. With these in place, we have been able to reach out to communities and we have a robust relationship with communities and the local government. We encourage them to have vigilante in each local government . These communities identify volunteers , who are trained by the command on ways to operate, human right aspect and how to get information . They work hand –in- hand with the police because we cannot do it alone. They are the first line of contact in case of eventuality”.
CP Usman further added that the command also maintained cordial relationship with other sister security agencies in the state , adding that sometimes , they carried out joint Show of force. He said these strategies and others, made Niger state one of the calm states in the country. He therefore called on the need for all hands to be on deck in the fight against crime and criminality.