The police in Niger State have arrested four suspects in connection with the clash between youths from Gidan-mangoro community, along Minna-Bida Road and members of Niger State vigilante group over alleged involvement of their member in robbery operation.
An inter-state car robbery syndicate which specialised in snatching cars from their victims in Abuja and neighbouring states and disposing same to willing buyers in Niger State has also been arrested by the police.
Youths from Gidan-mangoro and the local vigilantes had been having running battle over allegations that one of the vigilantes was among those allegedly identified as one of the robbers terrorising the community in recent times.
While the vigilante group is said to have severally denied the allegation, the community is said to have because of the incident decided to resist attempts by the vigilantes to continue to operate in the area pending the time police would fish out the culprit.
This development, a source from the locality said, did not go down well with members of the vigilante group in the area as they were said to have mobilised and invaded Gidan-mangoro on Tuesday night with some people injured and threatened to make life unbearable for the community.
ASP Elkanah, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Niger State Police Command, confirmed the arrest of the four vigilante members and that investigations were on-going to ascertain their level of involvement in the alleged crime against the community.
The PPRO said: “Preliminary investigations reveal that the vigilante was trying to handle a case involving one of their members and youths from Gidan-mangoro community, invaded the area and in the process they were attacked”.
“The police had to intervene to avoid breakdown of law and order. We don’t want a repeat of what happened sometimes in Lambata whereby the vigilantes arrested and tortured somebody to death because they claimed the person was on the wrong side of the law.”
Many of the vigilantes sometimes due to inadequate training go against operational limits by taking laws into their hands without involving the police and this is against operational terms of community policing which they are largely involved in, Bala said.
Inasmuch as the police still find them useful companion in the fight against crime, ASP Bala said it is really worrisome that some members of the state vigilante groups who are rarely trained on powers and limitations could turn against the society they were meant to protect if not monitored from time to time.
Meanwhile, Niger State Police Command has smashed an inter-state armed robbery syndicate who specialised in car-snatching after they had negotiated to sell a Lexus SUV with registration number Abuja YAB-214TD for a meagre N700,000 in Minna.
The state Police PRO who disclosed this, said the 7-man gang members had locked one of their victims inside the toilet at Mabushi in Abuja before whisking his wife in the car to an ATM point where she was forced to withdraw N100,000 for them.
The stolen car, the PPRO said, was brought into Minna by a transporter, Gideon, who claimed to be a taxi driver in Abuja and handed over to one Seidu Mohammed (a mechanic) who specialised in working on stolen cars before they are disposed off to interested buyers.
“We got a tip-off based on the strength of a reliable source and our Special Anti-Robbery Squad swung into action and we were able to round up members of the gang and also recovered the vehicle, some cash in local and foreign currencies and some of their victims’ personal effects,” the PPRO said.
Bala Elkanah also told our correspondent that the gang leader, a 23-year-old Suleiman Umar who hails from Kaduna State claimed he stole the master-key which they used to gain access into their victims’ apartment from a man they met at a popular night club in Abuja.