We’re still searching for 5 policemen abducted in Rivers —CP

• Says 20 officers under investigation over sundry offences

Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr Francis Odesanya, has disclosed that the state police command is still searching for five of its officers, who were abducted by unknown gunmen in the state, last May.

He said this  during a  media briefing in Port Harcourt, on Tuesday, adding that 20 police officers had been arrested and were under investigation for sundry offences.

The five police officers were on a routine inquiry at the Okujagu community in Okrika Local Government Area when they were  caught unaware in an ambush and abducted by the yet-to-be identified armed men.

The then, Rivers police spokesman, DSP Ahmad Muhammad, in a statement, said the yet-to-be found police officers were bombarded with a barrage of heavy gunfire before they could disembark from the boat that ferried them.

“Six policemen, comprising two inspectors and four other rank and file, could not be accounted for. But a day after, Inspector Aferuan Imoukhuede, who was among the missing policemen, was rescued”, adding that 53 people  were arrested and were undergoing investigation in connection with the incident.

Confirming that the police officers were still missing,  Odesanya, who just assumed office last week, said the command was working assiduously to ensure that they were rescued and reunited with their various families.

The new Rivers police boss, who said he would remain apolitical and professional in the discharge of his duties, expressed his willingness to cooperate with the government in ridding the state of cultists and other nefarious groups.

Warning cultists to  steer clear from the state, Odesanya said he was well aware that the spate of kidnapping, armed robbery and other crimes in the state, were energised by cultists.

He vowed to deal with the problem of kidnapping and armed robbery in the state, adding that the command had intensified the fight against cultism and that the current “massive onslaught” against hoodlums would be sustained.

He said  the state was strategic to the socio-economic wellbeing of the country, hence, his determination to make the state unsafe for criminal elements.

He admitted that the festering crises in the state were political and crime but restated the readiness of the police, under his watch, to mop up illegal arms in the state and sustain the fight against criminality.

“We must sustain the fight against criminality, especially, cultists, because  the  state is strategic to the economic wellbeing of the country. This assignment is a wake-up call to duty and to deliver on this mandate, I have identified the security challenges facing the state.

“It has come to my notice that illegal arms are in many places across the state. We will work towards mopping them up.  We shall fight cultism to the end in the state”, he added.

To achieve this,  he  said the command would also expand its stop-and-search initiative in order to cover more crime-prone areas, adding, “There shall be a serious onslaught against cult groups with the aim of obtaining illegal firearms in their possession.

“We will raid some hideouts. We shall be very apolitical and professional since these are qualities of democratic policing. I shall not be partisan because politics is a distraction to professionalism in policing”, he said.