In December 2020, when Governor Ayade launched Operation Akpakwu, a special joint security team to combat rampant kidnapping in the State, it was a tall order. To enhance their operations, Ayade handed over 100 patrol vehicles fitted with communication gadgets, 10 power bikes and drones, to the operation.
“You must deal decisively with any form of criminality, banditry, cultism and kidnapping of any form. Let this therefore be a message to every resident in Cross River; today is the end of criminality,” he said on the occasion.
For months to the time the Governor was reading this riot act, CrossRiverWatch was reporting an average of 9 to 12 incidents of kidnapping every week in Calabar/Akpabuyo alone. But since January 2021, the frequency of such incidents have reduced closely to 1 in a month. Also worthy of note is the fact that these kidnappings are now restricted to riverine areas like Jebbs and Esuk Atu at the University of Calabar axis; unlike when these dare devil criminals came frequently into the heart of Calabar Municipality, in broad day light and pick their victims randomly, and escape with ease.
The joint security operations have relatively cleared notorious criminal rendezvous in 8 Miles, Uwanse, Asabanka in Akpabuyo, Essien Town and Bogobri. The remnants are also running out of town due to the heat from Operation Akpakwu.
But there are still names that security sources say remain a real danger and must be caught before they can relax the security alert level in Calabar. The four names according to sources who spoke to Yours Sincerely include, Romance, Emmanuel Afang, Bombo and Virus. The Police say they are currently on the trail of the four.
Romance, according to a security source, is the leader of the gang that stormed Police post near Tinapa in February, killed four Policemen on duty and escaped. Some suspects were later arrested while others are still fleeing.
Information available also reveal that a Police Orderly to a serving Judge in the State was withdrawn and detained in the course of the investigation after he was fingered in the incident.
I commend Governor Ayade hugely for this particular initiative. I think this was well thought and the results are self evident. Kudos also to the field Commanders and the public that has been cooperating with the security forces.
There are however grey areas in the activities of Operation Akpakwu, which the Governor and various field Commanders of the component forces on ground will have to address very quickly. Victims of the arbitrariness of some operatives of Operation Akpakwu are swelling by the day and that trend must be checked with alacrity.
Almost every other day, there are verifiable accounts of brutality, highhandedness and illegalities perpetrated by men of Operation Akpakwu. Still fresh in our memory is the molestation of a 17 year old daughter of an aide to the Wife of the Governor of the State, at Bogobiri market, where the terrified teenager was harassed by a soldier attached to Operation Akpakwu and forced to sit on the ground, for not greeting them when she walked past. And only two days ago, soldiers attached to Operation Akpakwu, brutalized a Chief Magistrate and his doctor at about 11pm by UCTH Road Calabar. The duo were hospitalized.
Public opinion also seem to agree with ending the curfew imposed in Calabar at the peak of the security challenges. Even if it is not ended, it should be extended from 10pm to midnight or further into the night. This will reduce the chances for security forces finding alibis to trample on citizens rights.
There are also concerns that Operation Akpakwu operatives, are getting involved in civil disputes.
These boundaries must be clearly defined and enforced strictly. But on the whole, Governor Ayade has done well with Operation Akpakwu. The security situation in Calabar has improved greatly. Kudos to him again.
God bless Cross River State.
Citizen Agba Jalingo is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch and writes from Lagos State.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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