THE police in Bayelsa State say they have arrested no fewer than 625 persons in the state in connection with suspected murder, rape, armed robbery, kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms.
The police also said they had recovered 66 weapons of different makes as well as hundreds of ammunition in the state.
The Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa State Command, Mr. Asuquo Amba, made this known on Monday while parading some suspected criminals at the state command’s headquarters in Yenagoa.
Amba said the arrest of the 625 suspected criminals and recovery of arms and ammunition took place between January and December 18, this year.
Giving the breakdown of the arrest, the police commissioner noted that during the period, their operatives arrested 68 suspects for murder, 122 suspects for rape and assault, 87 persons for kidnapping, 241 suspects for armed robbery and 107 suspects for unlawful possession of firearms.
Amba explained, “Sixty-two murder cases have been reported during the period under review. Sixty-eight suspects have been arrested, 21 cases are under investigation and 27 of such cases have been charged to court.
“On rape and assault, 73 cases were reported. The police arrested 122 suspects, 37 cases are under investigation while 15 cases have been charged to court.
“Also, 177 cases of armed robbery were reported, about 241 suspects were arrested, 70 cases are under investigation, 56 cases have been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for legal advice and 27 cases have been charged to court.
“Furthermore, 66 arms have been recovered. One hundred and seven suspects have been arrested, 29 cases are under investigation, 30 cases have been forwarded for legal advice to the DPP while 13 suspects have been charged to court.”
On the arms and ammunition recovered, the CP said the operatives recovered 40 locally-made pistol/guns; five locally-made double-barrelled gun; 11 locally-made pump-action guns; three revolver pistols; one K2 rifle and four AK-47 rifles.
Amba said the ammunition recovered during the period were 105 of 7.62mm ammunition, one dynamite, 190 cartridges, 12 .9mm ammunition and one grenade, noting that the police had identified cult activities, rape, armed robbery as the major crimes in the state.
He, however, said unlawful possession of firearms due to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons had also become common in the state.
He added, “We have stemmed the tide of cult activities in schools through sensitisation programme and campaigns. Breeding grounds for cult activities in Yenagoa have been identified and teenagers have been discouraged from hanging out in such locations.
“Parents and guardians have been advised to warn their children and wards from visiting such locations.”
Amba said the constant raid of flashpoints and black spots used for drug dealing had helped the police to check the incidence of rape and defilement in the state, stressing that the command had also secured the conviction of a serial rapist and paedophile, Godbless Ogiode, who was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment.
He noted, “The proliferation of small arms and light weapons has slowed down the pace of our fight against criminal gangs who engage in armed robbery. However, we have made significant progress in arresting armed robbers and recovering of firearms.”