CP Awunah goes tough with “Operation Safer Bayelsa”…issues red cards to cultists, armed robbers, others

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By Raymond EKPE, South-south Chief Investigator

THE new Commissioner of Police CP Don Awunah is certainly not a reed shaken by the river side when it comes to fighting crimes. The few Commands the ex-Police image maker had served including Akwa Ibom State attest to this. Recently, he was posted to the Bayelsa Command and as a master strategist, he did not waste time in evolving a distinct crime bursting thrust code-named “Operation Safer Bayelsa.” Though he said the state is a relatively safe state in terms of violent crimes, he was however, quick to add that most of the crimes were secrete cult-induced; vowing that he would crush the menace. In his maiden address with newsmen in the state, the crime buster extra-ordinaire assured that he would improve upon the robust security architecture emplaced by his predecessor, CP Ama Asuquo adding that with the support of the state government and the good people of Bayelsa State, Bayelsans  would sleep with their two eyes closed. He said:

“Let me begin by appreciating the vibrant Press here in Bayelsa State. On assumption of duty, I could not but admire and appreciate the existing bond between the Press and the Police. As age long partners in our common goals for peace and security, it is my intention to sustain and deepen this productive relationship for the attainment of national objectives.” Continuing, CP Awunah said, “Permit me also at this juncture, to acknowledge the strategic and operational support of the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris and the government of His Excellency, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson. Mention must be made of, my predecessor, CP Asuquo Amba for the excellent security architecture I met in place on my assumption of duty.  His Excellency, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson has been supportive in matters concerning the Police by not just giving a listening ear but also in providing working tools for the Command which has to a large extent, contributed to dedication to service and show of commitment by Officers across ranks in the State. The technological support of the State Command Control Centre and the complimentary role of Operation Doo Akpo are critical to tackling crime and Anti Social behaviour in the State. The law enforcement community in the state has a government and people with sincerity of purpose. Comparatively, on the national crime index, Bayelsa State ranks amongst the lowest in crime rate but conversely among the highest in the investment in law and order. The apparent low crime rate must not be taken for granted. It must be sustained reinvigorated and improved upon. However, a cursory analysis of crime pattern in the State indicates evidently that most prevalent crimes are driven by cultism. Membership of Secret Cult criminal gangs appears to have permeated the ranks of some misguided youths in the State, whose minders are disgruntled elements engaged in criminal enterprise. Our in-depth crime mapping identified the following as active major cult groups in the State: i. Icelanders,  Greenlanders, Bobos,  De Bam,  De Well,  Black Axe, Vikings and many others across the various strata of the State.  Our policing Objectives will be anchored on people oriented policing, problem solving approach, creative partnership, adherence  to best practices, compassion, courage and respect for diversity as encapsulated in the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris`s vision and philosophy of democratic policing. There’s is no doubt the Police process and facilitate democracy in all its ramifications. The Press, Traditional Rulers, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Human Right groups, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), Youths and Women groups, the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC), Eminent Persons Forum (EPF), approved Vigilante groups, organized labour and non-state actors are pivotal and allies to our determination to curb criminal activities in the State. In the same vein, inter agency collaboration will remain a hallmark of crime prevention and management from internal security perspective   At this juncture, it is imperative to re-echo the ongoing mop-up of illegal firearms in the State by Task Force on illegal firearms. The efforts of the Task Force have started yielding positive results. All those in possession of illegal firearms and owners of illegal weapons will face the wrath of the law.

As counter measure, we have set up “Operation Safer Bayelsa” a crime reduction strategy aimed among other crime fighting techniques to: Mobilize, re-focus personnel and resources for optimum performance; Confront frontally violent crimes like armed robbery, kidnapping, sex related offences, communal strife and other crimes of concern;  Sustain crack down on cultism, cultist, cult related infractions and thereby promoting quality of life, ensuring  peace and security,  Reduce fear of crime; Apprehend all criminal elements, their sponsors and collaborators. Conduct discreet professional investigation, and  Arraign all proven suspects in courts of competent jurisdiction. In addition and most significantly, Anti Cultism Unit has been created in the State Crime Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) to streamline and galvanize coordinated Police action against cultism in the State. Similarly, we have also introduced Rapid Response Teams (RRT) domiciled in the State Headquarters and re-organized the Tactical Teams, to provide a bite to our crime fighting techniques.  As part of our increased response time, we have introduced a system of response to distress call termed the ‘Incidence Convergence Domination System’ (ICDS). This is simply a system whereby not less than Five (5) patrol vehicles converge on scene of crime/ location of incident. In my few weeks in office, I can attest to the very active collaboration among sister security agencies in the State. We intend to sustain and build on this by way of sharing actionable intelligence and coordinated onslaught against criminal elements as policing today is undertaken from the standpoint of collective responsibility. The introduction of Operation Safer Bayelsa has recorded huge gains in terms of arrest of criminal elements, recovery of arms from violent criminals in Yenagoa. We are not resting on our gains yet as there is still a lot to be achieved in pursuit of our goals.”

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