Edo State Commissioner of Police, Babatunde Kokumo, has declared that the police in the state are battle ready for hoodlums who plan to simultaneously rob banks, shops and other business outlets in the state, with sophisticated weapons they have already procured.

He made the declaration yesterday in Benin, the state capital, during an interactive session with select reporters.

Kokumo revealed that the Edo State Police Command had uncovered plans by armed-robbery gangs to attack and rob innocent and defenceless residents in the state in their desperation to make “blood money” ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

He assured that officers and men of the state’s police command had the capacity to decisively deal with anyone or group of hoodlums who intend to unleash mayhem before, during or after the Yuletide season.

The police chief said the intelligence so far gathered suggested that the bandits had procured sophisticated weapons to carry out their nefarious activities and unleash terror on Edo State and its residents.

He said: “We have uncovered plans by bandits to attack banks, shops and other commercial ventures in Edo, thereby throwing the state into panic.

“I am assuring Edo residents that adequate security arrangements have been put in place towards hitch-free Christmas and New Year celebrations.

“Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and other sophisticated security equipment have already been acquired to combat any security breach in Edo. So, the bandits should steer clear of the state or be ready to meet their waterloo.”

Kokumo also described as really unfortunate the October 19 escape of 1,993 inmates, including condemned/hardened criminals, from the Maximum Correctional Centre (White House) on Sapele Road and the Oko Medium Correctional Centre on Airport Road, both in Benin, during the #EndSARS protests that were hijacked by hoodlums, with many of the escapees immediately returning to crime.

The police commissioner admonished Edo residents to always work with the police by reporting suspicious characters, movements and criminals in their midst or neighbourhoods to the state’s command, while assuring that identities of the informants would be adequately protected.