How We Chased Out Evans and Stopped Akpaka Forest from Becoming Another Sambisa – Ex Anambra Police Boss - Welcome to Uju Ayalogu's Blog

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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

How We Chased Out Evans and Stopped Akpaka Forest from Becoming Another Sambisa – Ex Anambra Police Boss

How We Chased Out Evans and Stopped Akpaka Forest from Becoming Another Sambisa – Ex Anambra Police Boss

Alhaji Amusa Bello,

While speaking in an interview with The Sun, a former Anambra State Commissioner of Police (2006-2010), Alhaji Amusa Bello, narrated how difficult it was fighting kidnapping, violent armed attacks and the various steps taken to improve security in the South East state when he was in the saddle.
Here are the excerpts;

How was security in Anambra State at the time you arrived as Commissioner of Police?

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What would have happened in Anambra State is a reminiscence of what is happening now in the North East. At the time I came, the state had serious security challenges.

The former governor of the State, Mr. Peter Obi, met the then Inspector General of Police, Mr. Sunday Gabriel Ehindero, in 2006 and complained about insecurity in his state and the need for the Police High Command to help in tackling it.

The IGP, having assessed the situation, decided to raise a crack team, comprising the late Haruna John, who was then the DCP in charge of operations, Lagos State Command, and myself who was DCP in-charge of Force CID, Area 10, Abuja, together with Alhaji Saleh Tanko and other officers, to tackle the problem head on.

We were given all the necessary logistic support, in terms of fund, arms and personnel to commence work. Our base was Onitsha, because Onitsha seemed to be the headquarters of these criminals then. We organised various operations, using Onitsha as our operational base. We equally operated from Asaba.

Akpaka forest in Onitsha, near 33 Nkwere Ezunaka was a-no-go area at that time. People were being kidnapped and taken to Akpaka forest; so nobody ventured into Akpaka forest. We organised a joint operation, with military support from 82 Division, Enugu.

What was the result?

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Due to the coordination and experience we deployed, the number of casualties recorded on the part of security agencies was nothing compared to our successes. There was a particular day I was almost killed at Cemetery Road, Onitsha.

We received a distress call that robbers were operating there, and I led my men to the place with OC SARS at Awkuzu, Awka, Gabriel Haruna.

It was a near-death experience for me and I lost some good men that day. We launched operations in all the flash points and subdued a lot of these criminals. The remaining few had to relocate because the Anambra became too hot for them to operate in.

The governor thereafter had various meetings with traditional rulers and various stakeholders in the state because he was also operating from Onitsha. He moved Government House to Onitsha to feel what the people were feeling and he gave security agencies every support, including the police and other sister agencies.

The government gave funds for operations, provided vehicles and other logistics. We held regular meetings with stakeholders. Don’t forget that for any operation to be successful, information is key.

With maximum cooperation from all, we were able to dislodge these hoodlums from Akpaka forest. We were shocked when we discovered so many stolen vehicles in that forest. There was this particular day the sector commander, SARS in Onitsha, was seriously wounded in Akpaka forest after he stepped on an improvised explosive.

Nobody believed he would survive, but he did. At the end, we recovered the forest, which could be compared to Sambisa in the North East.

Support came from all quarters to ensure that Anambra remained a safe haven for all. We got Personnel Armoured Carriers, (APCs). The headquarters of SARS was relocated at Awkuzu because Awka was so vulnerable.

A party secretariat during the Ibrahim Babangida administration became our office at Awkuzu. This used to be hideout for criminals before we came. SARS headquarters had bullet-proof fence. The SARS detectives were always on red alert. Then, it was like a war zone.

On countless occasions, we foiled bank robberies, attacks on bullion vans and kidnappings because we had men in strategic areas of the state. If I begin to go into details of the various high level operations we engaged in, we won’t finish today.

It was that bad. Our effort in the past on security is what the state is enjoying today. Chris Ezike, who is now Imo State Commissioner of Police, also participated in the struggle to liberate Anambra from the hands of criminals.

How cordial was the relationship between the police and other security agencies in Anambra during your tenure?

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Before 2006, there was a thin line among the state governor, the CP and police officers. Obi’s emergence as governor brought about a synergy between the government, the police and the community as well as other security agencies and vigilance groups.

After bringing sanity to Anambra in 2006, the IGP directed Haruna John and myself to take over police headquarters in the state. Haruna, who was my senior then, took over as police CP, and I took over as DCP, Anambra State.

There were lots of innovations brought about by the then governor at the police headquarters at his expense. He provided money; we put up structures and the state headquarters got a face-lift.

He financed state headquarters, fenced it, provided infrastructure, procured communications vehicles, armoured cars, and provided weekly allowances for officers and men of the Anambra State Police Command. So, morale became very high.

There were constant meetings with other services, the military and other para-military services in the service. We co-opted the vigilance groups. We had to work together because they provided us with vital information.

I had to disabuse the minds of my men that the vigilance groups were not after their jobs but that there must be synergy if we were to succeed.

We started the demolition of property owned by kidnappers and the former governor’s chairmanship of South East Governors Forum brought about the needed synergy among the governors to chase away dreaded armed robbers from the South-East region. Don’t forget that we also had a Security Trust Fund.

Is it true that Evans, the notorious kidnapper, was chased out of Anambra during your time as CP?

Yes. So many armed robbers and kidnappers had to relocate from Anambra and Evans must have run away at that time because if we had spotted him, I don’t think he would still be alive. He was very lucky to have escaped because if he had stayed, he would have been history.

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