Sixteen suspected members of a kidnap syndicate said to be responsible for killings and kidnapping in Ukanafun Local Government of Akwa Ibom State are now cooling their heels in the cell, Police Commissioner, Zubairu Muazu has said.
Speaking at the weekend, he said the arrest of the criminals was made possible through a “well planned and coordinated operation.”
Muazu said: “To build a peace process where crisis had occurred in the past, you need to pass through a lot of stages. Fears were already in the minds of the people and they felt unsafe. To erase this fear, we have to launch an undercover operation.
“It went as far as people dropping threat messages to individuals in Ukanafun; ‘bring a certain amount of money or else we will kill you’. We got quite a number of such letters and threat messages. We analysed them and identified the syndicate and then launched an attack.”
The commissioner, who spoke through Bala Elkaner, spokesman, said weapons and other items were recovered from the suspects, who were helping the command with information.
Elkaner, who reviewed security situation in the restive local governments, said the reactive approach adopted by the command in the past helped the situation.
This, he said, necessitated not only the introduction of “Operation Purge” by the commissioner, but also going in there to talk to the people.
“There has been this reactive approach where police move in there, investigate and make arrests. This has not actually helped, so the police commissioner took this proactive measures, not just deploying troops but also meeting the people.
“He was with the two communities where he held two meetings, discussed, identified and agreed on the solution with the people.”
The spokesman said part of such solution was to identify buffers zones where the operation could be carried out, to reassure the people of police presence.