Though it is a civic responsibility of citizens to alert security agencies whenever a crime is being committed, the onus is on the security agencies themselves to live up to expectations at all times.
There may not be a robust relationship between Ikenchukwu Aduba, the Delta State police commissioner, and news hunters in the state at the moment. Since Aduba was posted from his last duty post as Commissioner of Police, CP, Bauchi Police Command to Asaba, things seem not to be too rosy between the CP and the media in the state.
Now, the bone of contention between Aduba and the media, this time, is the recent report of the public appearance of Delta’s most wanted kidnap suspect. Recent media reports pointed to the fact that one Kelvin Ibruvwe, a kidnap kingpin who had been declared wanted a long time ago by the police in Delta state, suddenly appeared in Kokori community in Ethiope East Local Government Area of the state, where he addressed residents of the community. The photograph of the event, which was splashed in some dailies, showed the group surrounded by women and children, in a village square setting. Kelvin, who led a group of masked boys who wore military camouflage and carried assault rifles, issued a 60-day ultimatum to the government on infrastructural development in his community. He was quoted as saying that they would shut down all oil wells in Urhobo communities if, at the end of the 60 days, the federal government did not grant their request.
Kelvin, who was declared wanted by security agents for allegedly masterminding high-profile kidnappings in Delta State, said his actions were to draw the government’s attention to the poverty level and neglect of the Kokori community, which, according to him, produces the best oil in the country. He said: “We are giving this ultimatum because the cheating is too much.
The federal and state governments had neglected us for so long. Now we want them to hear us because, for over 50 years, they have been drilling oil from our community which is the best oil in this country, yet we have nothing to show for it. There is hunger everywhere; graduates have no jobs. So we want the government to listen to us, and that is why we are giving them 60 days ultimatum to listen to us or else we will shut down all the well heads in the area. If they like, they should bring soldiers. When we want to strike, no amount of security can stop us because we are not alone, and there are top people in this country and in foreign land backing us… The government must listen to us. Boko Haram will be destroying the northern part of the country while we will be destroying the South-South. We will destroy all the well heads in Urhobo kingdom”.
A resident of the community who spoke on behalf of the youths at the event corroborated Kelvin and said: “We are here today because Kokori is suffering. There are no jobs for the youths; graduates whom their parents borrowed money to see through their tertiary education roam the streets with nothing to do; and businesses have been very slow for our market women because there is no flow of income. What we want the government to do is to build schools, hospitals, banks and cottage industries that can employ the men and teeming youths of the community.” Another indigene of the community, who spoke on behalf of women, said: “We thank God for using our son, Kelvin, to fight for our course. He is not a criminal, as the government of Delta State wants the world to believe.”
In a swift reaction, both the CP and the command’s spokesman, Lucky Uyabeme, debunked the story. While Aduba said the event was stage-managed and urged the public to disregard the report, Uyabeme said, “To believe such a thing is difficult – that a man declared wanted is in the community. I cannot make any comments on that until it is confirmed”.
Aduba further expressed disbelief that an event of such magnitude could hold in a small community like Kokori with the security forces not getting a wind of it. He wondered how such an event could occur without it being stopped. In his words: “Why did the media, who were present at the event, not alert the police of the event. Is it not a criminal offence to aid and abet a criminal?”
Aduba and his men may have been rattled by the report. But the crux of the matter is that the reporters who reported the incident and even backed it up with photographs had done their job creditably well. If the police and intelligence units of the security agencies failed to live up to expectations, the blame should not be heaped on the media. In this case, the rule of division of labour must come to play. Though it is a civic responsibility of citizens to alert security agencies whenever a crime is being committed, the onus is on the security agencies themselves to live up to expectations at all times.
In this case, Aduba needs to do a thorough investigation on what really occurred in Kokori community on that day rather than look for scapegoats. By doing that, he would further widen the gulf between the police and the media in the state. He should look at the media as important stakeholders and partners in the war against crime in the state and the country in general. It is through the cooperation and assistance of all stakeholders that the job of fighting crime in the society can become an easy task.
Aduba, from all indications, appears to be a hardworking, humble and friendly police officer whose competence as a police officer and crime buster is never in doubt. He has matched his professionalism with a human face when dealing with subordinates and other people who have had contacts with him. Oviebo Omolabi, a senior police officer who had worked closely with him in Bauchi, spoke well about him. Omolabi, whom I have known for over two decades, was full of praises for Aduba. As a quiet, humble, decent and unassuming person himself, Omolabi’s account of Aduba’s exploit as a superior officer was very heartwarming to me.
This instigated some curiosity and interest in me. My findings about Aduba everywhere I went and the calibre of people I spoke to actually convinced me that he is one of these rare cops who discharges his duties with high sense of professionalism, dedication and compassion.
However, good as Aduba may be, he has always fallen under a barrage of negative media publicity, especially since he assumed office as CP of Delta State. This does not distract from the fact that since his assumption of office in that oil-rich state of the Niger Delta, he had launched an all out war on criminals and criminality which abound in that part of the country. This, no doubt, has led to several accusations of highhandedness and extra-judicial killings by a section of the public. Many of these have come in the form of hurriedly conveyed press conferences and the distribution of press releases by various groups and persons who are probably under the intense heat turned on them by Aduba and his men. I believe the media have always been fair with their reports.
Inasmuch as I am not trying to hold brief for either Aduba, his command or the media, I do not also believe that those who have cried out against his highhandedness in handling perennial issues of criminality, especially kidnappings and armed robberies, in his area of command have been fair to him all the same. As a person who had lived for so many years in Warri, one of the major cities in the state, I have a good idea of the exploits of criminally minded people, whether youths or adults, in that part of the country. There is no need to expatiate any further. It is a common phenomenon that runs through the entire gamut of the country where all shades of criminality now hold sway, all in the name of making money at all cost. Let us leave that for another day.
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