3 Edo cops dismissed, docked over missing rifles

BENIN CITY-Three police officers of Edo State Police Command attached to Operation Wabaizigan have been dismissed and docked at a Benin High Court for alleged conspiracy and stealing of two AK 47 rifles belonging to the Nigeria Police Force.

In a charge dated August 2, 2019, the prosecution councel SP. Peter Ugbumba identified the defendants as Uzor Emmanuel, 34, Akharamen Michael, 31, and Jimoh Halilu, 27 who allegedly committed the offence at Obodo Guest House, Uwasota Road, Ugbowo, Benin City on July 17, 2019.

Count two of the charge which refers to the three defendants as former police officers attached to Operation Wabaizigan, Edo State Government House, Benin City stated that the trio had on the said date, time and Judicial Division, did steal two AK 47 rifles with Breach No’s, 11479 with twenty-five rounds of live ammunition and Breach No, 05766 with nine rounds of live ammunition valued one million seventy-seven thousands Naira (1, 770, 000.00), property of the Nigeria Police Force, Edo State Police Command.

The prosecution councel in charge three also alleged that the defendants, with intent to felonious and heinous crimes to wit armed robbery, kidnapping, murder etc, did intentionally, knowingly and unlawfully kept in their possession and control the two AK 47 rifles with the live ammunition.

The defendants were said to had thereby committed offences punishable under Section 390 (6) (9) of the Criminal Code Act Cap c38 Vol. 4, and Section 3 (1) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provision) Act Cap R11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, respectively.

It will be recalled that The NIGERIAN OBSERVER newspaper had on Monday, July 8, 2019 exclusively reported that operatives of Edo Police Command were apprehensive over their safety as they continue to lose custody of sophisticated guns and high calibre ammunition in the state.

The operatives’ fear was heightened when two fully-loaded AK-47 rifles assigned to two policemen were allegedly stolen at a guest house in Uwasota, Benin City on June 17, 2019.

It was gathered that one Sgt Uzor Emmanuel had gone to the guest house with a lady to unwind after he closed from duty that fateful day.

He allegedly raised an alarm about 2:00a.m that two of the three rifles he took into his room had been stolen before he returned from the toilet.

It was scooped that the missing AK-47 rifles were officially given to his team members one Cpl Micheal Akharamen and Constable Jimoh Aliu.

The duo were said to have handed the guns to Sgt Uzor Emmanuel as their team leader since they could not return to base to sign them off that evening.

It was gathered that the officers are personnel of the state-own security outfit codenamed Operation Wabaizigan.

Owner of the guest house Mr Obodo Otuya said Sgt Uzor Emmanuel’s claim was questionable and appealed to the police command for a discreet investigation as his hotel was not police amoury.

He explained that from the brief of the gateman and record of the guest house Sgt Uzor Emmanuel who is a regular customer, checked in with one AK-47 rifle and a lady.

Mr Obodo Otuya said his manager, gateman and salesgirl had been arrested, quizzed and granted bail after two weeks by Investigators at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCIID), Benin City.

It was further gathered that the embattled Sgt Uzor Emmanuel had reported himself at the police command headquarters, Benin City.

Source disclosed that Sgt Uzor Emmanuel, Cprl Michael Akharamen and Constable Jimoh Aliu have been detained at the state police headquarters, Benin City.

Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer in Edo State DSP Chidi Nwabuzor said I am aware of that case. Investigation is ongoing.

Some operatives have expressed worries over incessant cases of the command lossing custody of arms and ammunition to criminals.

An officer who was visibly saddened by the news of the missing two rifles and ammunition said each time I hear of such powerful guns like AK-47 taken away from our custody by any means, my heartbeat increases.

I know the dangers the society faces when such deadly weapon is in the wrong hands.

Even as a senior police officer I do not assign firearms to officer that whose temperament is unpredictable.

We are the soft target before civilians anywhere, anytime. My brother, it is worrisome.

Investigation revealed that at least 12 police rifles and ammunition have been reportedly snatched or taken away from police custody in recent past.

Among reported incidents which the command lost custody of arms and ammunition were the attacks on Afuze Divisional Police Headquarters in Owan East local government area of Edo State on March 11, 2019 and Ogba Zoological Gardens, Airport Road, Benin City, last year.

In the two separate attacks, seven cops including a DPO and a pregnant woman Sgt were killed by the attackers who also took away four AK-47 rifles and one Berretta pistol.

Source: The Nigerian Observer