Traditional rulers and community leaders of Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, have asked the commissioner of police in the state, Mr. Don Awunah, to caution his men to stop demanding money from citizens to fuel police patrol vehicles before responding to distress calls and changing their crime fighting mentality.
Some of the royal fathers who spoke at an interactive session with the police boss on a familiarization tour to Ikot Ekpene Area Command, said the attitude was hindering effective operations by the Police in the area. They identified armed robbery and violent cult activities as major crimes ravaging the area in recent times.
The village head of Ikot Offiong, Chief Solomon Ikotiko, who admitted that as royal fathers, they had always been warned against harbouring and protecting criminals in their respective domains, particularly decried situations where senior police officers would demand for fuel for the patrol vehicles before responding to calls during robbery incidents.
Chief Ikotiko pointed out that the condemnable approach facilitated the escape of criminals, but he commended the Police and other security agencies for their efforts so far towards reducing the rash of cultic activities in the area.
His words, “We are always told to fish out criminals in our domains, we are also asked not to harbour criminals, but when there is a robbery incident and you call the police, they will first demand that you fuel their vehicle. Sometime ago when I was robbed I contacted a police officer but he did not respond. This is why the criminals successfully rob and escape.”
Another leader, Otuekong Anthony Akpan, said: “Ikot Ekpene Local government is one of the peaceful places in Akwa Ibom. The only problem we have here is the violent cult activities. These cult boys do not allow us to rest. They can go in large numbers at a time. Besides that, Ikot Ekpene is peaceful.”
In his contribution, Chairman, Transition Committee, Ikot Ekpene Local Government Council, Mr. David Umanah, stressed the need for the deployment of more proactive policemen as well as the establishment of more police stations/posts in some crime prone axes of the local government area.
Umanah who said his administration has been working closely with security agencies to contend the security challenges, however, observed that efforts by security agencies in tackling crimes in the area were being hindered by shortage of police manpower that cannot cope with the bloated population in Ikot Ekpene, and inadequate patrol vehicles.
He said: “The issue of establishing police stations and posts along Ikot Inyang, Ikot Osurua and Amanyam axis should be given utmost attention because perpetrators of crimes in Ikot Ekpene usually escape through those areas and sometimes disguise as students of the tertiary institutions in the area.
“And with the attendant influx of diverse people, vices such as theft, burglary, armed robbery, fraudulent acts and disobedience of laws of the land, the general disorderliness characterized by activities of commercial motorcyclists and others with grave security implications can only be imagined. So more proactive police officers are needed here because the population is growing by the day.
“Intelligence report revealed that most of the crimes in this axis are perpetrated by hooligans who go in the guise of doing transportation business. Therefore, it became necessary to restore security in our transportation business in the area of loading and off-loading of travellers outside the government approved motor parks.”
Responding to the complaints, Commissioner Awunah assured the people of the commitment of the command to preventing and checkmating crimes in the state, explaining that the essence of the tour of all the Area Commands was informed by the need to partner all stakeholders in crime reduction management and community safety.
Awunah, who warned the monarchs and leaders against harbouring criminals and encouraging criminality in their domains, reminded them of the role of the traditional institution in stemming the tide of crime in communities.
“As traditional rulers you have very important role to play in community safety and crime reduction management. We believe that for us to function effectively there must be community engagement. Policing is a collective responsibility because when it comes to crime everyone is vulnerable. Crime does not respect any class.”