Still haunted by the horror of the 2008 Ezza/Ezillo clashes that nearly grounded the government of immediate past Governor Martin Elechi, Governor Dave Nweze Umahi of Ebonyi is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that no such calamity befalls the state again. He is also seeking assurances that the boundary dispute between the Ikwo community in Ebonyi State and their neighbours in Adadama, Cross River State and the dispute between Ivo in Ebonyi and Lokpanta in Abia State, among others, will not rear their ugly heads while he is the Chief Security Officer of Ebonyi State.
In addition to the pockets of crimes occasioned by the economic downturn in the country, these are some of the security challenges that give Umuahi a big headache and for which he is investing a lot of time and resources in the activities of the state’s Ministry of Border Peace and Conflict Resolution.
When the Commissioner of Police in the state, CP Dikko Ayeni who was in charge of the command during this year’s general elections, was transferred, Governor Umahi recalled how he had laboured to ensure that Ayeni remained in the state, having shown mastery of the security challenges of the state and how to deal with them.
The governor explained that when he could not influence the reversal of the transfer, he had no other choice than to welcome whoever would come.
At the official reception of the new Commissioner of Police, CP Peace Ibekwe Abdallah, Umahi revealed that when he noticed the agility of the woman, he was drawn to the axiom that what a man can do, a woman can also do, saying “I am at peace with the Peace Abdallah we have as a CP.”
The governor said her joviality should not be taken for granted because somebody who smiles like her can be strict and even difficult. Umahi said: “I am very impressed with the Nigeria Police of today. Your predecessor, Dikko was more like a brother to us. There is nothing good as honest and uprightness. The news of his transfer was a huge shock to us but we believe that as a woman, you will be a mother to us.”
In her response, the CP declared that her strategy was not to make noise but to work her talk, assuring that she would rid the state of crimes and criminality.
She said: “I will be proactive in reaching out to all communities so that there will not be communication gap in the state. I am a woman with few words. I am a woman of action. I am here to work the talk, not to make noise. We will partner with the community by reaching out to stakeholders. We are not up to 3000 policemen in Ebonyi State; it is evident that without the community we serve, we cannot succeed.”
She is the second female commissioner of police and the 17th CP since the creation of the state. Born on April 7, 1963, CP Peace Ibekwe Abdallah hails from Onitsha in Anambra State. Her journey in the Police Force which started 29 years, when she was enlisted into NPF as a cadet ASP, has been tough and eventful. But, through hard work (and plain good luck too), she rose steadily up the ladder of police officers’ ranks, until August 25 last year when she was promoted to the rank of commissioner of police (CP). Her first assignment as Commissioner of Police was heading the Monitoring Unit, Force Headquarters, and Abuja.
On assumption of office as Ebonyi CP, the Commissioner’s first move was to generate alliances with stakeholders in the state principal officers of the local government and the traditional rulers, among others to promote understanding and cooperation so that policing in the state could be made easier and more effective.
Within her few weeks in office, it became obvious to many in the state that a change of guard had taken place. With her in charge, a new era of harmonious coexistence of all security agencies such as the Army, FRSC, Immigration, NSCDC, and Customs et al was born. She has already visited the three Area Commands in the state in Afikpo North, Afikpo South, Ivo, Unwana, Ohaozara); Onueke Area Command, which comprises Nnoyo, Ezza South, Ikwo, Onicha, Oshiri, Abomege and Abakaliki Area Command comprising Ikpirikpiri, Ekumenyi, Ishieke, Ohaukwu, Ebonyi, Ishielu, Izzi. That afforded the police team the opportunity to rapport with the Commands’ officers, and in each visit the Commissioner and her team also paid courtesy calls to traditional rulers, community leaders and members of the political class.
The Police Spokesman, ASP Okafor George who shed light on the visits noted that the CP was going on the tours to seek partnership of the various groups and stakeholders in order to make the work of the police more efficient and effective.
ASP Okafor recounted that in most of the places visited, the DPOs were greatly commended by the stakeholders of the various communities. He said: “You know our CP is a female officer and something outstanding happened when we visited Unwana. A regent there is a woman. She assembled all the women. They sang solidarity songs, displayed unalloyed support for the CP. Ditto for all the community stakeholders that we visited. So her appointment is a dawn of a new era for Police work in Ebonyi state.”
Since she assumed office, there are testimonies and evidences to show that crimes and criminalities have drastically reduced in the state. Even in a few cases where kidnap attempts were made, the CP personally led the operation that foiled the attempts. According to the PPRO, there have been a lot of breakthroughs since the CP assumed office. The kidnap attempt at Oshiri was foiled by the police and in all the attempts the CP led the operation that foiled them.
“She will personally come out, talk to the victim’s family and assure them of safety. She is a strong woman. She has delivered and she will continue to deliver and Ebonyi people are happy with her,” Okafor asserted.
In this ember month, the police have expedited action to ensure hitch free celebration. First, the CP initiated the operation Show of Force and Walk down Crime, adjudged to be the first of its kind in Ebonyi State Police Command history. The CP came out to ensure that her men are strong, ready and prepared to combat crimes, especially during the festive periods.
The CP said the idea behind the walk down crime is to show the people of Ebonyi that they are ready and fit to crush down crimes in the state. Consequently, she warned “for the last time, I want all criminals to find another environment because they are not wanted in Ebonyi”.
On September 11 this year, Kehinde Baruwa, the Afikpo Zonal Manager of NBL was kidnapped as he drove from work into his street, which is off Ndibe Beach Road Afikpo. The anti-kidnapping team of the Command, acting on tip-off, swung into action and arrested two members of the gang who came to collect the N300, 000 ransom negotiated for the safe release of the victim. The suspects volunteered vital information, which led to the successful rescue of the victim who was held captive at Ubakala in Umuahia, Abia State.
So far, everybody and every group seem comfortable with CP Peace Ibekwe Abdallahi’s modus operandi. Recently, the Okada Riders Union in the state conferred with the title of “NNE Oma (good mother) Ebonyi State” in appreciation of her crime-bursting and prevention efforts.
Now, who says police can’t be your friend?