By Godwin Akor, Makurdia
When the present Benue State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Adams Audu, took over the mantle of leadership in the state, he had vowed to give criminals in the state, a run for their money. And he had since proved to be a police man to the core, if successes on ground are anything to go by.
In his 32 years of service, he has served in almost all departs of the police force. Before leaving Abuja for Benue, he was in-charge of Anti-Terrorism Squad Unit.
Audu was instrumental to the establishment of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA in Nigeria. When he was in Kaduna, he influenced the establishment of a joint operation against robbery in the North-West. His wealth of experience in crime control made him to find his bearing as soon as he assumed office as the commissioner of police in Benue State.
One of the things he did as soon as he reported for duty in May 2013 was to embark on the familiarization tour of the state. In the course of the tour, Audu visited traditional rulers, heads of government establishments and other influential persons to intimate them of his vision and mission. He explained to them that the fight against crime needed a collective approach, emphasizing on the formation of vigilante groups.
Even as the menace of Fulani attacks continued, some of the persons behind the ones that took place within his area of jurisdiction were arrested and are being prosecuted.
In Agatu, he traced the attackers until he arrested about nine of the persons who aided the Fulani in the attacks and paraded them before journalists.
Three weeks after he assumed duty, he paraded about 38 suspected criminals, arrested across the state. Audu had visited the House of Assembly where he had an interface with the members and promised to reduce Fulani invasion, urging them to make a law against cultism and other related crimes.
The police chief confronted the capital offence of child trafficking with seriousness. In the last count, over 17 children were rescued with over seven suspected traffickers arrested.
The evolution of a crime control strategy which involved the people, made Audu to stand out and hold his head high among his colleagues. But it is not yet over until it is over, especially in the Benue North- East Senatorial District where a suspected criminal has established a republic for himself.
Reports say Gana is the warlord who has carved out a forest for himself in the Katsina-Ala area of Benue State, where no police man or soldier had ever dared to go.
It is believed that Gana has over 100 gangsters under him and that they used to move from one local government area to the other, causing panic with impunity.
Recently, a man who disclosed that his son was a suspected armed robber was nailed to a tree like Jesus Christ in Ukum Local Government Area.
Not long ago, the chairman of Ukum Local Government Area, Mr. Teryima Nguhe, told journalists that over 15 persons were arrested in connection with the continuous syndicated house to house and shop to shop robbery in the area.
Nguhe, who was accused of being behind the killing of a young man, said the story of the killing of someone in a beer parlour at Kyado was formulated against him because he stopped a syndicate from collecting revenue from markets for personal use.
Nguhe explained that he was in Abuja for medical check up when the incident took place and disclosed that a commission of enquiry had been set up to unravel the circumstances that led to the death of the young man who incidentally was his own relation.
The Ukum Local Government chairman also told journalists that the Zaki- Biam yam market which used to generate money for the local government had become an area for the Gana boys who operated at will.
Since Audu assumed duty in Benue State, cult activities reduced, especially in Makurdi, the state capital, but crime wave at the Benue/Taraba boundary axis appears to be on the increase.
It was in Katsina-Ala that the relation of a banker planned with some robbers to attack her because of disagreement over the payment of school fees.
Be that as it may, the most worrisome aspect of the criminal activities that take place in the Sankera area of Benue State is the role played by Gana who is believed to be used by politicians in the area.
In the Tor-Donga, Abaji and Sai areas of Katsina-Ala, as well as the Gbeji, Kyado and so on in Ukum Local Government, Gana holds sway with his men, challenging the police even in the day time.
One aspect of the young man’s operation which the new police commissioner may not have known is the sophisticated manner in which the police are forced to retreat anytime they exchanged gun fire with the warlord who creates roadblock on market days.
The underlying factor in the Gana saga is that he is within the community and members of this community aid him in his operations by telling him the movement of law enforcement agents.
Gana does not feed on sand, he does not manufacture weapons but he is highly mobile. When Ibrahim Mohammed was commissioner of police, Gana was chased out of Benue. Then, he sojourned in Taraba State for some time and then like a creature of habit, later returned to base. This means that the Benue State Police Command needs to have a synergy with the police in Taraba and other neighboring states, if the notorious criminal is to be apprehended.
There may also be the need for the police command to extend its vigilante group campaign to the North-East Senatorial Zone of Benue State. In 2011, many of the politicians in that area allegedly used Gana for mischievous purposes. Each time a politician wanted to raze down houses of the opponents, he would arrange with Gana’s men to cause the havoc.
As 2015 draws nearer, Audu may need to equip himself and the command for the battle which would no doubt rage in the zone. Apart from the struggle for entry into the House of Representatives, some political heavy weights are warming up for the senatorial election of 2015. It is possible for Audu to know those who will sponsor Gana this time around.
The last words that one has to leave with the new police commissioner is that the Ombatse which wasted the lives of about 100 police men, allegedly had informants among the police. Audu must therefore, beware of such characters in his command.