Rise of insecurity in Benin City worsens with kidnapping, armed robbery and cult-related killings.

Shot ACP reportedly died in hospital on Saturday.

The security situation in Benin, the capital of Edo state, has taken a turn for the worse following a jump in cases of kidnapping, armed robbery and cult-related killings.

According to the investigation done by the News Agency of Nigeria, the upsurge in the crimes was first noticed since the #ENDSARS protests that led to the release of no fewer than 1900 from two Correctional Centres, burning of at least eight police stations and the looting of their armouries by hoodlums.

Nightlife in the capital city, in the meantime, has since ground to a halt as incidences of kidnappings and armed robbery have escalated.

NAN reports that while residents of the capital city were still reeling from the high crime rate, cult-related killings, mostly linked to clashes between rival Vikings and Aye confraternities, have only heightened the fears of the residents in different parts of Benin.

The tally from the cult-related killings indicated that no fewer than 30 people were killed within the past week, with three others similarly killed on Sunday by suspected cultists in the city.

Two of the bodies were discovered at Urohra Junction, one by pipeline junction in Eyaen. and on Saturday, two bodies were found around Uselu, while Evidence Street by Isihor accounted for three others.

Before then, several people lost their lives in different parts of the city, including Idogbo, Y-junction, Nomayo, Three House all along Sokponba Road, Ogida Barracks, Siluko road, Costain area in New Benin, Aduwawa near Oando filling station, Upper Mission, near Ewa Road junction, Cherubim and Seraphim area of Upper Mission.

Meanwhile, the police are soliciting information from the public that would help them recover stolen arms and ammunition from the police stations that were looted, trashed or burnt in the state.

When contacted, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr Babatunde Kokumo, said the attack on police facilities, burning of police stations and patrol vehicles during the EndSARS protests, that turned violent, had affected their operations.

He, however, assured that the police will gradually resume work at their duty posts to check crime and criminality in the state.

According to him, in Upper Sokponba in Ikpoba-Okha axis, three police facilities were burnt down displacing the DPOs and other police officers in these divisions.

“These officers now report at the state command headquarters, we now send them on patrol from there so you should expect some hitches, but we will continue to work and get things right.

“The EndSARS protests, which were hijacked by hoodlums, have actually impacted negatively on police operations and unleashed attacks on police facilities’’, he said.

“How do you expect, where 200 inmates escaped, for things to be normal? Kokumo asked, saying, “We were doing our best to arrest the criminals in Edo before the jailbreak and we are equally trying our best now to see that the escapees are re-arrested and brought to book.

He urged the media to cooperate with and appreciate the efforts of the Police, especially now that they are expected to stem the tide of crime, whereas they lacked operational vehicles, arms, and ammunition.

The Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP, name withheld), who was shot on Friday in Benin, the Edo State capital, in the exchange of gunfire with cultists who engaged in supremacy battle, died Saturday at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH).

The two other policemen, both Inspectors, who were also shot along with the ACP, were still receiving treatment at UBTH, but on danger list, with bodies littering the streets and roads of Benin and its environs.

The three policemen ran into an ambush by the rampaging Eiye and Vikings cult groups during rescue mission in the notorious Upper Sokponba and Murtala Mohammed Way axes of Benin.

Death of the ACP was confirmed in confidence Saturday evening through the telephone by a senior police Officer of Edo command.

The number of persons, both innocent residents and cultists, who lost their lives to the rival war between members of the two cult groups, rose to twenty eight, from Friday’s figure of eighteen, as the shootings and killings both at night and in broad daylight, still continued.

It was gathered that policemen in Edo command were now receiving threat messages and calls from many of the fleeing 1,993 inmates, who escaped on October 19 from the Maximum Correctional Centre (White House) on Sapele Road and the Mèdium Correctional Centre on Airport Road, both in Benin, during the #EndSARS protests that were hijacked by hoodlums.

The threat calls and messages were mostly for policemen who investigated and prosecuted the convictions of the escapees.

It was also learnt that the sudden increase in the volume of illegal arms and ammunition in Edo state was as a result of the looting and razing of seven police stations in Edo on October 19, with large cache of arms and ammunition now in the hands of criminals, mostly the fleeing suspects in the cells of the burnt police stations and the escapees of the two correctional centres, mostly cultists, who immediately returned to crime.

Sadly, just Saturday, a medical practitioner, Dr. Maxwell Orosanye, working for the Edo state government-owned Central Hospital, Benin, was shot by the rampaging gunmen, suspected to be cultists, and he was still receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital in Edo.

Orosanye was shot near Mobil filling station on Siluko Road, Benin, while his Toyota Corolla saloon car was snatched at gunpoint.

Moving round the hot spots in Benin, especially Upper Sokponba, Siluko, Ibivwe, Uselu, Isihor, Iguosa and Ugbowo, hosting the Federal Government-owned University of Benin (UNIBEN), Saturday evening, revealed that the residents were living in fear and mostly remained indoors to avoid being hit by stray bullets, with night life disappearing.

The cultists were still looking for rivals to kill, while searching from house to house, without any challenge, in spite of the heavy deployment of soldiers in Benin and its environs.

The cultists were still openly brandishing AK-47 rifles, machetes, battle axes, broken bottles, clubs and other dangerous weapons in broad daylight, while always shooting sporadically throughout the night, thereby heightening tension in Benin and its environs.

Edo Commissioner of Police, Babatunde Kokumo, through the telephone Saturday, insisted that officers and men of the command were working within existing limitations to restore normalcy to the state, while assuring that all the criminals would soon be arrested and prosecuted, to serve as a deterrent to others.

Kokumo said: “Just imagine what it means that three police stations along Sokponba Road, Benin were destroyed and burnt, patrol vehicles were destroyed in many other parts of Edo State. All the officers and men in the burnt police stations now operate from the state police headquarters (in Government Reservation Area, GRA, Benin).

“The peaceful #EndSARS protests were hijacked by hoodlums. The protests took a violent turn in Edo State, with inmates of the two correctional centres in Benin City set free. So, what do you expect?

“Some of the escapees have been sending threat messages to policemen, who investigated and prosecuted them. One of the escapees, who was convicted for murder, went that same day (October 19 this year) and he killed the prosecution witness in his village, but he was immediately rearrested.

“Everybody must be part of the restoration of sanity to Edo State. People who know the escapees should avail us information about them. I am assuring you that we are not sleeping, but with what has happened to the police in Edo State, some of these hitches are expected, but we are not sleeping and we will continue to work.

“As I speak to you, I am on my way to visit three of our personnel: an ACP and two Inspectors, who were shot and they are recuperating.”

Edo police commissioner also urged residents of the Southsouth state not to panic, but to go about their lawful businesses, while assuring of adequate protection of lives and property.

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