The police have launched a desperate search for eight AK47 rifles stolen by gunmen suspected members of bandits that killed seven of their operatives in Rivers State at the weekend.
A situation report showed that eight rifles were snatched from victims of the attack, which occurred at two police checkpoints and two divisional headquarters.
At the C4I checkpoint at Choba where the gunmen killed an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) and an Inspector, two rifles were snatched with a patrol van set ablaze by the bandits, The Nation reports
At the checkpoint in front of the Rumuji Divisional Headquarters, where the armed men beheaded another ASP and an Inspector, the police lost two AK47 rifles.
A special constable was said to have escaped with a bullet that hit his chest at the Rumuji checkpoint.
The gunmen further stole four AK47 rifles when they attacked the Elimgbu Division where they killed two ASPs and an Inspector.
It was gathered the disturbed Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday, had deployed a special tactical team to locate the hideouts of the fleeing gunmen and retrieve the rifles.
The team was said to be combing the waterfront, bushes surrounding the state capital and the border communities for the gunmen.
Residents of the state raised concerns over the rising number of illegal arms in the hands of bandits.
Some of them recalled after the attack on security formations and killing of nine security operatives at Oyigbo Local Government Area, over 50 AK47 rifles were reported missing
“We are scared. We don’t know what will happen after this ongoing stockpiling of arms by unknown gunmen. Security agencies especially the police should activate their intelligence departments and conduct operations to retrieve these arms”, a resident, who identified himself, simply as Emmanuel said.
Investigations revealed that despite the ongoing attacks, policemen deployed to checkpoints were still not vigilant at their duty posts.
A commercial bus driver, who plies Port Harcourt to Lagos, said the police were still in the habit of losing concentrations at checkpoints and asking drivers for tips.
“They are still not ready to deal with these unknown gunmen. At each checkpoint, you will see policemen hang their guns while stretching their hands to collect money from motorists.
“Most times their hands are preoccupied with vehicle papers as they keep flipping the papers with no iota of vigilance. That is why they are always caught off guard by unknown gunmen,” the driver, who spoke in confidence, said.
An employee of one of the media outfits in Port Harcourt observed that policemen were still engaging in reckless acts that had made them easy targets for gunmen.
She said: “Truly painful and sad that policemen, who are husbands and fathers to others have their lives cut shot in these manner. It saddens my heart because most of these unfortunate and sorrowful acts leave many families helpless and more impoverished.
“However, it is most regrettable and very stunning to see policemen blatantly allowing N50 and N100 from motorists to make them lose focus and alertness both on streets in Port Harcourt, environs and on our highways.
“To say the least, it is shameful and regrettable that an agency that some wicked beings have chosen to be at war with for reasons best known to them is still daily seen being distracted over a token sum that actually and eventually make no difference in their lives at the end of the exploits.”
Rivers Police spokesman, Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed Commissioner of Police has launched a serious manhunt for the perpetrators with a view to apprehending the culprits and bringing them to justice.
He said: “So far, the Command is relatively calm and the Commissioner of Police is currently in a security with his team, as security has been further strengthened in all the Police formations in the State, including other critical public and private infrastructure.
“The public is hereby enjoined to increase their security consciousness and report any person or persons with gun wounds to the nearest police station”.
It was furthered gathered Governor Nyesom Wike, was worried by the attack, which started at about 8.30pm before the 10pm curfew he imposed on the state.
Wike, who immediately convened a security meeting after the incident, ordered the security commanders to formulate additional measures to protect the state.
The Governor insisted that no amount of intimidation or cruel resort to barbaric attacks would make the state succumb to secessionist agenda.
Wike urged residents to be calm, as the Security Council had taken measures to secure the state.