It was mixed feelings for the Delta State Police Command over the weekend as six armed robbery and kidnapping suspects were felled by police bullets when a crack team of the command’s quick response tactical squad stormed their hideout in Issele-Uku/Umunede axis in Aniocha North Local Government Area of the state.
However, the excitement of the victory over the hoodlums and the resultant reduction in the number of criminals operating in the state was short-lived as tragedy struck elsewhere in Ashaka, Ndokwa East Local Government Area of the state.
At about 1:00am on Sunday, a gang of heavily armed men invaded and razed down the Ashaka Police Station alongside several vehicles parked in the station premises.
The unidentified attackers were said to have come with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), with which they razed the building to ground level.
It was learnt that the police station was built through communal efforts in partnership with the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC).
One of the vehicles burnt, a patrol van, was also said to have been provided by the Ashaka community to support policing of the area.
However, no life was lost during the frightening invasion of the police station that residents said practically turned the quiet agrarian community into a theatre of war of sorts as the invaders reportedly shot sporadically and shattered the buildings, apparently with, improvised explosives.
The state police command spokesman, Bright Edafe, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), who confiremed the two incidents in Asaba on Sunday, said that the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Ari Muhammed Ali, has, nevertheless, vowed to continue to pile the pressure on criminals operating in the state until crimes were reduced to the barest minimum.
The spokesman, who described as “enemies of the community and of the police” the hoodlums who levelled the divisional police headquarters in Ashaka and also burnt down every vehicle in sight, disclosed that the attackers came in a large number at the unholy hour.
Wielding lethal weapons, the criminals “threw IEDS at the station, shot sporadically, and set the police station that was built by the community/DESOPADEC ablaze”, he said.
“They also burnt down one patrol vehicle, which was also bought for the police division by good people of the community, the attack was obviously to ensure that police presence is not felt.”
Edafe, however, said with relief that no policeman was killed during the attack on the Ashaka station, adding that “no arm was taken away”
Nonetheless, the police command spokesman said of the killing of the six armed robbery and kidnapping gang members, that CP Ali had dispatched the joint tactical crack team to the criminals’ hideout at 2.35pm on Saturday, “acting on tip-off”.
In the ensuing gun duel, “the joint team killed six of them” while others fled into the bush ostensibly with gun shot injuries, Edafe said.
He revealed that “one Ak 47 rifle, one pump-action gun, one AK 47 magazine with 25 live ammunition were recovered during the operation on Saturday night.
Also on Saturday, at about 9.30pm, a team from the Delta State Police Command “while on stop-and-search duty along Patani-Bayelsa portion of the East-West Road, intercepted a Toyota Sienna bus with Registration Number LSR 813 XL”, and arresting the four male occupants after discovered a “locally made Barretta pistol” in the vehicle.
He gave the names of the four suspects taken into police custody as Efe Oyenikoro Felix George, Emmanuel Job and Joan Yapiteghe.
Meanwhile, the state police commissioner of Police, Ali, has charged Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) to stem the growing insecurity in the state by taking the battle to unrepentant criminals.
“He also urged members of the public to volunteer useful information that will assist the police in discharging their duties through intelligence gathering in the face of the growing insecurity across the country,” Edafe further said.
Within the last two months, three police divisional headquarters located in the Delta North senatorial district of the state had been attacked and burnt down by unidentified armed attackers, leading to death of several officers, including the divisional police officer (DPO) at Usukwa Police Station in Aniocha South Local Government Area of the state last month.
Although a fourth station in Kwale escaped being torched by the hoodlums, arms and ammunition were stolen; while a police van on routine patrol on Otulu/Akwukwu-Igbo Road in Oshimili North was attacked by unknown assailants, who killed a police officer and burnt the patrol van.