By Francis Ogbuagu, Benin City
It was a bloody Tuesday night in Afuze, Owan East Local Government Area of Edo State, where gunmen stormed and killed four police officers on duty. The dead police officers are: the Divisional Police Officer, Tosimani Ojo (a Superintendent of Police), Sergeant Justina Aghomon (a pregnant woman), Inspector Sado Isaac and Corporal Glory David.
The bandits were said to have stormed the place at about 8.00pm Tuesday night killings the four officers, while setting several vehicles, including police patrol vans and the police station on fire, with improvised explosive device (IED); while another van stationed at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the local government area was also torched.
Source close to the station, said that the suspects had immediately after shooting the unsuspecting officers on duty, allegedly set about six inmates of the station free before setting it on fire.
Investigations showed that the armed men had on arrival at the station demanded to see the DPO, as they swooped on every available officer on sight with volleys of gunfire.
Awe stricken residents of the area had scampered for safety as sounds of gunfire and explosives boomed endlessly for about one hour.
Sympathizers and residents thronged the station and houses of the victims in the early hours of Wednesday, with wailing and expression of shock over the ugly incidents that befell the community and families of the deceased persons.
An eyewitness, who gave his names as Mr. Godwin Ikpekhia, said the incident occurred at about 8:00pm when many officers of the division had gone for outside duty and others gone homes before the armed men attacked the station.
According to him, “We only had gun shots and nobody knew what happened until this morning. The Divisional Police Officer and three other officers, who were on duty, were killed on the spot inside the building. The hoodlums didn’t stop at that, they went to the INEC office and were shooting sporadically in order to attack men who were on duty. Police van in INEC office was burnt down by the hoodlums,” Ikpekhia stated.
It would be recalled that similar gruesome attack had taken place on 14th of July last year at a checkpoint near Uzeba-Aviosi junction along Ifon road, Sabongida Ora in Owan West council area at which four policemen on night duty were murdered by unknown gunmen and a Hilux patrol van belonging to the officers was burnt while their official riffles were carted away in the process.
Also, suspected kidnappers had on January 24, 2019, abducted a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress and member of the State House of Assembly representing Owan West Constituency, Hon. Michael Ohio-Ezomo; from his private residence at Eme-Ora in Owan West council area and his police orderly was killed in the process.
He was released after spending about 38 days in the den of his captors.
Speaking on the incident, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Muhammed Danmallam, who visited the scene of the attack, said that investigation would commence immediately. Danmallam vowed that those responsible for the attack would be brought to book.
He said, “Urgent steps will be taken to curb the increasing cases of criminality in Owan axis of the state, and that such gruesome killings will not occur in this command again”.
Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Wednesday, visited the Divisional Police Headquarters, Afuze, in Owan East Local Government Area of the state, which was attacked by yet-to-be identified bandits, who killed four police officers and blew up the police facility with Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
Obaseki condemned the attack and promised that the culprits will be arrested and made to face justice.
“We have not gotten this lawless in Edo State, that people can go to the extent of attacking police officers at their station. I have ordered the release of all the resources required to apprehend and bring the culprits face-to-face with justice,” he said.
“Our hearts are with the families of the deceased and we will stand by them in these difficult moments. I have ordered the immediate refurbishment of the police facility for policing to continue in Afuze and environs,” the governor added.