Edo: How negligence by security operatives inadvertently turn Ring Road to criminal hideout

The abandoned Nursing School hostel

By Jethro Ibileke

Oba Ovonramwen Square, better known as Ring Road or King's Square, is the beauty and heart of the ancient city, the capital of Edo state. It serves as link to Delta state. The center also serves as link to those going to Siluko, Sakponba, Ekuhuan and Airport road areas of the state. Holiday makers and others also catch fun at the beautiful Ring Road during festivities. The popular Benin museum is also located inside the Ring Road. In fact, a visit to Benin would be incomplete without the beautiful scenery offered at the Square.

Regrettably though, the Ring Road is fast loosing its beauty, to hoodlums who have turned a section of it to a den for criminal activities. The Akpakpava junction and Ibiwe and other areas of city centre have become a nightmare for pedestrians, both early in the morning and late evenings.

The spot between the Baptist Church fence and Sakponba road junction, overlooking the Ring Road is worst of all, as the place has become a permanent meeting point for area boys. Passing through that section of the road anytime from 6 pm is at pedestrians' risk, as the hoodlums are always found there either smoking substance hemp or or drinking illicit liquor, even in broad day light. Their rough and dirty appearance, coupled with their dreadlocks and dreadful body tattoos on them will send jitters to anyone. Many have lost valuables, including mobile phones and cash, to the hoodlums, mostly in the early mornings and late evenings.

Of course, a place like that is a security flash point that deserves regular surveillance by security operatives. 

Several government and religious institutions, including the Edo Specialist Hospital, Baptist Convention Church, and the Central Hospital mortuary, the former hostel building of the State School of Nursing are all located withing the vicinity of this area. The State House of Assembly and the Benin Palace are also at a stone throw's distance away from the area.

However, negligence of duty by security operatives have turned the place to a den of armed robbers and other dangerous criminals.

Just a few days ago, the coordinator of the Edo State Security Network, Kole Oshoriamhe Omomia, raised the alarm over invasion of the former School of Nursing hostel by hoodlums who have converted the place to a den for heinous crimes. 

Omomia in a statement on last Thursday, announced the discovery of a decapitated and burnt corpse of a yet-to-be-identified person in the former hostel. He said the corpse was found following a tip off by a transporter.

He said: “Our men were out on a normal routine patrol and got a tip off that there is a man staying at an abandoned building and no one knows his mission there and that there is a corpse also lying there.

“My men went there and saw a corpse butchered and burnt and the body is still very new."

The Coordinator disclosed that four suspects have been apprehended and handed over to the police for further investigation and prosecution.

The abandoned Nursing School hostel1

According to him, the prime suspect, Nwafor Azubuike, was found inside the building where the corpse was discovered.

“Nwafor Azubuike who claimed he stays in the place, that he knows the murdered man and had a chat with him few days ago, was also apprehended to be further interrogated.

“Looking at the building itself, we believe it is a den where they carry out most of their nefarious activities. 

"We believe it is a den where they carry out most of their nefarious activities. We also discovered lots of human hair around the area, likely belonging to ladies,” Omomia said.

 This development raises serious security concern. The abandonment of the former hostel has led to the buildings being converted to hideouts by hoodlums where they could easily plan and execute their nefarious activities. 

If only security operatives were up and doing in the first place, the beautiful Ring Road could not have been turned to meeting point of suspected criminals who gather there day and night, unnoticed to police operatives, whose Command's headquarters is less than a kilometer away. 

The Benin minimum security correctional facility is also overlooking the place. It would be recalled that the facility have been attacked several times, during many dangerous inmates escaped. Attackers of the facility could have easily recruited their men fro among the hoodlums at the Ring Road. It is very possible.

Many years ago, during a parade of suspected criminals by the then commissioning of police, Mr. Foluso Adebayo, I personally raised the issue of the gathering of hoodlums at the Ring Road and the danger it portends. He immediately ordered one of his assistants to follow up the report. It is obvious that nothing was done thereafter, to  nip the ugly development on the board, which has resulted in the loss of a human life. That is the one we know. 

Crusoe Osagie, the Special Adviser on media project to Governor Godwin Obaseki, told our correspondent in a chat that improved security surveillance by the elaborate vigilante network of the state government actually led to the discovery of the decapitated and burnt body of the yet-to-be-identified victim.

He said: "We now have very elaborate vigilante network, which has sort of throw some light to these areas and has improved surveillance and supervision of these areas, which is the reason why were able to apprehend some suspected culprits.

"Secondly, there are some other security measures we have taken, which we cannot mention for public consumption. There are some technology we have deployed.

"If you want to be honest, check the last three months within the Benin metropolis, you will find out that there has been serious reduction in kidnapping, armed robbery and other criminal activities. That is one of the reasons that things are getting better. 

"Then, there is this Edo [telephone] help line we are constantly sharing; when you see something, say something. People still believe that it is a joke. Try it one day and call that line by 12 mid night, if you notice any strange movement in your area and see if there's not going to see a response," Osagie told our correspondent.

When contacted on his mobile phone, Edo police command spokesman, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, said he was unaware of the discovery of the burnt body.

"Its a bit sketchy, we have not actually received any suspects in that regard. I will verify this very one you are talking about," he said.

He however did not mention what the command is doing to check the gathering of hoodlums at the Ring Road