Nigerian Police invade Rivers vigilante concealment, blow up illegal cell

Charles Nwoke, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
January 10, 2021

The Nigerian Police in Rivers State has blown up an illegal detention facility used by a popular vigilante group in Igwuruta, Ikwerre local government area council of the State, releasing scores found in the cell.

Equally, the police said it apprehend three members of the vigilantes known OSPAC, an acronym for ‘Onelga Security Peace and Advisory Council,’ during a raid of its base in Igwuruta on Saturday, though sources said seven of the vigilantes were arrested.

Though it could not be immediately ascertained what led to the raid, it came on the heels of a recent warning by the State Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan, for OSPAC to operate within the law following allegations of indiscriminate arrest and extra-judicial killing against the outfit.

Peeved by the development, CP Mukan had given a marching order for the arrest of all the vigilantes involved in such illicit activities.

Sequel to this, operatives of the Igwuruta Police Division had stormed the OSPAC operational base in the area on Saturday, arresting about seven members of the outfit found within the premises.

When contacted, CP Mukan confirmed the raid but gave the number of vigilantes arrested as three, adding that they were under interrogation.

“Yes, we arrested three of them and they are undergoing interrogation. I am yet to be briefed properly,” the State Police boss stated.

Meanwhile, OSPAC Commander in Igwuruta, Promise Nna alleged that some property belonging to its members was destroyed during the raid, adding that the sum of N1m meant for workers’ salary was looted.

Nna, however, called for the intervention of the Rivers State Government and the Ikwerre local government authority to avoid a security breach.

In his remark, OSPAC Commander, Kingsley Ogu-Mike reiterated his determination to work with security agencies to weed out criminal elements within the bounds of their operation.

Speaking on the incident, a human rights activist in the state, Prince Wiro said as much as OSPAC has contributed to the relative peace in some communities in Rivers, they must be supervised by the relevant government agencies.

“Intelligence at our disposal suggests that in the coming days, there will be intentional and deliberate policy by the Rivers State Police Command to ensure OSPAC and local vigilantes work or operate within the confines of the Law.

Wiro added that “It was also wrong for the police to discovered detainees in OSPAC cells, which is in clear contravention of the law as they have no power to operate detention facilities.”