Still hauntedÂ by the horror of the 2008 Ezza/Ezillo clashes that nearÂly grounded the government of immediate past Governor Martin ElÂechi, 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 asÂsurances that the boundary dispute beÂtween the Ikwo community in Ebonyi State and their neighbours in Adadama, Cross River State and the dispute beÂtween 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 seÂcurity challenges that give Umuahi a big headache and for which he is investing a lot of time and resources in the activities of the stateâ€™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 yearâ€™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 IbekÂwe 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 â€œI am at peace with the Peace Abdallah we have as a CP.â€
The governor said her joviality should not be taken for granted beÂcause somebody who smiles like her can be strict and even difficult. UmaÂhi said: â€œI am very impressed with the Nigeria Police of today. Your predecesÂsor, Dikko was more like a brother to us. There is nothing good as honest and upÂrightness. 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.â€
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 crimÂinality.
She said: â€œI 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.â€
She is the second female commisÂsioner 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 startÂed 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 officersâ€™ ranks, untilÂ August 25Â last year when she was promoted to the rank of commissionÂer of police (CP). Her first assignment as Commissioner of Police was headÂing the Monitoring Unit, Force HeadÂquarters, and Abuja.
On assumption of office as Ebonyi CP, the Commissionerâ€™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 unÂderstanding and cooperation so that poÂlicing 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 harmoÂnious coexistence of all security agenÂcies such as the Army, FRSC, ImmigraÂtion, 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 comÂprises Nnoyo, Ezza South, Ikwo, OnÂicha, Oshiri, Abomege and Abakaliki Area Command comprising IkpirikpiÂri, Ekumenyi, Ishieke, Ohaukwu, EbÂonyi, Ishielu, Izzi. That afforded the poÂlice team the opportunity to rapport with the Commandsâ€™ officers, and in each visÂit 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 notÂed 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 efÂfective.
ASP Okafor recounted that in most of the places visited, the DPOs were greatÂly commended by the stakeholders of the various communities. He said: â€œYou 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 unÂalloyed support for the CP. Ditto for all the community stakeholders that we visÂited. So her appointment is a dawn of a new era for Police work in Ebonyi state.â€
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 breakÂthroughs 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.
â€œShe will personally come out, talk to the victimâ€™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,â€ 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 ComÂmand history. The CP came out to enÂsure 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 peoÂple of Ebonyi that they are ready and fit to crush down crimes in the state. ConÂsequently, she warned â€œfor the last time, I want all criminals to find another enÂvironment because they are not wantÂed in Ebonyiâ€.
OnÂ September 11Â 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-kidnapÂping 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 negotiatÂed 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 UbakaÂla in Umuahia, Abia State.
So far, everybody and every group seem comfortable with CP Peace IbekÂwe Abdallahiâ€™s modus operandi. ReÂcently, the Okada Riders Union in the state conferred with the title of â€œNNE Oma (good mother) Ebonyi Stateâ€ in appreciation of her crime-bursting and prevention efforts.
Now, who says police canâ€™t be your friend?