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Residents grumble as crime in Delta spikes



The fear of being kidnapped or robbed in Warri, Warri-South Local Government Area, and the neighbouring Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area, both twin cities in the oil-rich Delta State, has become the beginning of wisdom.

The nightmare has also spread to the adjoining Udu Local Government Area, while nightlife is fast disappearing from the rich oil cities as residents hurry away from the streets as early as 6 pm daily. Despite the ugly situation, however, youths still hang out until 10 pm.

At the Ovie Palace Junction on the Warri -Sapele Road axis, some operators of drinking bars, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard, said though patronage had dropped, business was not so bad.

“We still sell, our busiest time is Friday and Saturday nights. I am aware the crime rate has gone up but it is not new. And it is not only in Warri. So, people should not blow it over, “a fish vendor, Ovo, said.

Residents identified some of the black spots as Angle Park area, off Airport Road, Refinery, Jakpa, Ekpan, Esisi roads, and Effurun Roundabout.

“From 7 pm, you have to be very vigilant when you are around these areas; they rob victims in commercial tricycles (Keke). But not all Keke operators are robbers, “Timeyin, a resident of Ugbuwangwe, said.

Our Correspondent gathered that, usually, the hoodlums target phones and cash. “They are after phones and cash. Some can be violent if their victims are stubborn”, Mary, another resident of Jakpa Road area, said.

Locals disclosed that some of the hoodlums lurk around ATM machines at night from 7 pm waiting for targets, particularly on Airport Road.

Kidnapping for ransom has been a reoccurring scenario. Within a space of 48 hours, they whisked away two priests, Rev Father Chochos Kunav and Raphael Ogigba, and a human rights lawyer, Dr. Akpor Mudiaga Odje, at different locations between Warri and Agbara-Otor about two weeks ago. They have since been released by their abductors.

Governor-elect and Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, was lucky on the Warri-Sapele Road when his convoy ran into some hoodlums at night a few months ago. According to reports, gunfire from his security aides made the hoodlums flee.

Locals said there was a surge in kidnapping inside Warri, particularly around the Ekpan axis. They blamed the ugly situation on the crash in the country’s economy and unemployment.

“Street has failed, that is why many boys are into crime now, and you mistake them for Yahoo Boys,” Onoriode, a resident of Udu, said.

“Many of these Yahoo Boys spend so much on drugs and since the Yahoo economy is gradually phasing out, they are using crime to sustain their passion.

“Some of these boys spend as much as N4 million monthly on drugs. They call it highness. To keep this up they indulge in crime.

“If the boys offer you a bottle of opened Coca-Cola, do not drink because it may not be only Coca-Cola that is in the bottle. Even when you go to parties organized by these boys, mind how you eat cake because they have ‘highness’ cake.

“To keep this lifestyle, they go for street crimes”.

Asked to explain what he meant by highness cake, Onoriode said, “They are event cakes made with hard drugs.”

A security operative, who wanted to be simply identified as Philip, however, said: “When you compare it with places like Auchi, it is not so bad here. Do not forget that Warri and Uvwie put together is not a very big place. We know ourselves. “Kidnappers in our midst can be easily fished out. I think more of the kidnappings are done on the highways like Sapele-Warri Road, Agbarho-Ughelli Road and all that. But kidnapping still happens inside Warri.

“The boys want quick cash and phones they can quickly sell for money. And they are getting it easy because very few people bother to track their missing phones.

“The police too are not helping matters. They charge too much to help track phones. And very few people can show proof that they own their phones because they have misplaced their receipts and phone packs”.

Safety rules

One of the safety rules in Warri, Ughelli, and environs is that people should avoid night movements in and outside Warriors, Philip said.

The police are yet to release the record of crime in Delta in the last three months. However, security watchers believe the immediate past Police Commissioner, Ari Muhammed, recorded some good success in the fight against crime in Warri and environs and expressed the hope that the new police boss, Wale Abass, will surpass the record.

Red light districts

In a bid to rid the areas of crime, the police took the war to red-light districts. Recently, they arrested 94 commercial sex workers and 59 male suspects for various crimes ranging from kidnapping to armed robbery, and other sundry crimes in Ughelli North local government area and environs.

The state police spokesman, DSP Bright Edafe, who disclosed this, said locally made guns, three suspected stolen vehicles, and hard drugs were among items recovered from the suspects, adding that some of them had been charged to court and others moved to the Command Headquarters in Asaba.

According to him, the police had stepped up efforts to flush out criminal elements from Warri and its surroundings.

“Operatives were drawn from the Command’s Operations Department, SIB, Dragon Patrol, Safer Highway, Raiders, CP, D-Coy Squad, Rapid Response Squad (RRS) and led by the Commander, Dragon Patrol, CSP Graham Imade, and deployed in the affected areas”, Edafe said.

“They embarked on an intensive confidence-building patrol, stop and search, and show of force while acting on credible intelligence report.

“The Commander led raids on some identified illicit rendezvous at Evwreni, East-West Road, and other black spots all in the Ughelli North area. During the operation, 59 male suspects and 94 female suspected commercial sex workers were arrested.

“The following exhibits were recovered from them; three pump action guns, one locally made cut-to-size gun, one dagger,10 live cartridges, one suspected stolen unregistered Toyota Venza, one unregistered Mercedes Benz, one Peugeot car, nine cups of loud, codeine syrup, 20 capsules of Tramadol and 31 wraps of weed suspected to be Indian hemp.

“The 94 commercial sex workers have been charged to court alongside some of the male suspects, while others have been transferred to the Command Headquarters for further investigation.”

The Delta State Police Command is obviously not sleeping. Dafe appealed for timely information from residents on suspected criminals and criminal activities in their hood. (Sunday Vanguard)



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