Following the outcry of Calabar residents over the rising crime rate in the state, the police have taken the fight to the suspected criminals, with at least 50 of them currently in the net.
The situation has become so bad that businesses are relocating to neighbouring Akwa Ibom state after the owners of such businesses were routinely robbed at gunpoint.
In one instance, Joseph Ogar Attoh, a filling station owner at Mayne Avenue by Weber Street, Calabar, lost N2 million to robbers who snatched the money at gunpoint. Three suspects arrested in connection with that robbery were among the 50 suspects paraded Wednesday by Hafiz Inuwa, the state commissioner of police. The suspects are 20-year-old Isaac Utibe Obong, 18-year old Daniel Ime James and 18-year old Ofonime Jonah Ukpong.
It was not surprising that armed robbery suspects topped the number of suspects arrested in the second quarter of this year. In the second position on the list is the number of suspected kidnappers arrested, followed by cultists.
It was bizarre that two human skulls were among the items found in the possession of Otu Edem Bassey of 12B, Etim Edem Street, Calabar. He was arrested by Anti-Cultism/Kidnapping Squad after a tip off that a group of cultists were undergoing fortification ritual.
Bassey did not betray any guilt but rather wondered why the police should arrest him. He said he is a herbalist who inherited the human skulls from his father who died about eight years ago.
According to him, “I am an herbalist and I heal people of different sickness. I have my license to operate as an herbalist. The police have no right to arrest me because I have been using these skulls for my job since my father left them for me about eight years ago.”
His accomplices, however, escaped. But the long arm of the law would definitely catch up with them someday.
The four suspected killers of 75-year old businessman, Aloysius Adigwe, were among the 50 suspects paraded. Adigwe was shot dead at his residence, 87, White House Street, Calabar, on 10th June when he attacked one of the robbers who invaded his residence.
His suspected killers are Okon Orok Asuquo, Nsikak Eyo Okon, Sunday Eta Ekpo and Saviour Innocent Udofia. Members of the late Adigwe's family can only hope that justice would be served in the law court following the arrest of the suspected killers of their loved one.
Seven suspected kidnappers also met their waterloo recently. They are now cooling their feet in police cell after they kidnapped Mr. Udosen Udosen of 109, Palm Street, Calabar along with two of his friends. Udosen's wife, Nkoyo, had alerted the Anti-Cultism/Kidnapping squad about the incident.
The squad moved in swiftly and arrested the suspects. They are Udeme Bennett, Kingsley Asuquo, James Effiom Eyo, Effiom Edet Effiong Emmanuel James Ekpenyong, Francis Ita Asuquo and Udo-Ete Udofia. Two locally made guns, 30 rounds of ammunition, one dane gun and charms were recovered from the suspects.
A teenager, Solomon Pius John, is also in police net for defiling an 8-year old girl. He allegedly lured her to an unknown destination and had unlawful carnal knowledge of the girl.
Paraded along with the other suspects was a man who allegedly inflicted one of the worst forms of cruelty on a toddler. He is Leo Columbus Enwa, who tied his brother's little daughter, Destiny Kelvin, to a guava tree and burnt her legs for defecating around.
However, contrary to earlier reports that the girl was burnt because she was defecating around, the suspect alleged that his neighbours were complaining that the girl was always going into their houses to steal.
According to Enwa, “my neighbours have been complaining that she comes to their houses to steal and I had to beat her. But my intention was not to burn her. I had just finished cleaning the house and was burning some things outside. I didn't know when I pushed her into the fire.”
A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Child Protection Network (CPN), rescued Destiny after the incident in Akampka local government area of Cross River State.
Kebe Ikpi, the program manager of Basic Rights Counsel Initiative (BRCI), in whose custody the two-year old girl has been kept, said Destiny was undergoing treatment after she sustained high degree injuries which have made her unable to stand or sit.
A breakdown of the suspects arrested shows that armed robbery suspects topped the list with 20 of them arrested. This is followed by 8 kidnap suspects, 7 suspected cultists, among others. Seven firearms were recovered from the suspects.
Again, the commissioner of police, Hafiz Inuwa, used the opportunity to reassure residents of the state of the readiness of his men to deal with miscreants or group of persons that may want to take laws into their hands.
He appealed for cooperation from members of the public in providing useful information that could lead to the arrest of hoodlums and perpetrators of crime