'ISWAP did not attack police officers in Edo State' - Police, Edo Govt refute

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"fleeing bandits, not ISWAP, attacked police's checkpoint."

The report that the Islamic State-backed faction of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacked and killed police officers in Edo State is not true, Nigerian police said in a statement on Saturday.

Several reports (Standard Gazette excluded) emerged on Friday that ISWAP took responsibility after a police officer was killed and a vehicle burnt to a crisp in Edo State.

The news had caused panic among the residents of the state as ISWAP has caused havoc in the northern part of the country where it currently operates.

ISWAP allegedly killed police officer, set vehicle on fire in Edo State
ISWAP allegedly killed police officer, set vehicle on fire in Edo State

Edo State Deputy Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Jennifer Iwegbu, said the officers were attacked by "fleeing bandits at Ibillo-Igarra road Junction."

According to ASP Iwegbu, "In continuation of our ongoing bush combing strategy to rid the state of heinous crimes, especially kidnapping, Edo State Police Command refutes claims that it was ISWAP that carried out the attack but fleeing bandits at Ibillo-Igarra Road Junction, Edo State on 22 September 2022."

On 14 August 2022, the anti-crime patrol team killed five suspected kidnappers at Ughoshi-Afe bush, Ibillo, in Akoko Edo, LGA, Edo.

The team was ambushed by ravaging bandits while on another bush combing mission on 22 September 2022.

The police said the attack on its officers on Thursday was a reprisal attack on the officers who killed the five gang members early last month." "We lost an operative and a vehicle."

The statement added, "After a thorough investigation in collaboration with other Sister agencies, the Command wishes to state that the Command is on top of the situation as the CP has emplaced measures to that effect.

"The Command's tactical teams led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations are currently carrying out an operation to bring the assailants to book. Efforts are being intensified as the Command is in hot pursuit of their trail."

The Commissioner of Police Edo State, CP Abutu Yaro, commended the Operatives' gallantry and admonished them to keep up their morale and not be dampened by what had happened.

He further warned criminals in strong terms to prepare for a tougher engagement in the days ahead or flee the state for good.

In a separate communique, the Edo State government also refuted the claim that officers were attacked and killed by ISWAP in Edo State.

According to the state commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Mr. Chris Osa Nehikhare, an investigation by the state security outfits involving the police, Nigerian Army, Edo State vigilante network, and Nigeria Civil Defence Corp confirmed ISWAP was not responsible for the attack.

"There is no evidence of ISWAP or its operatives in Edo State," Mr. Nehikhare said.

According to the statement, "Government assures that it will continue to support the state's security agencies to tackle crime and criminality and enhance patrols of the state's borders to make the state most uncomfortable for the decimated bandits.

The Edo State government restates its commitment to the safety of lives and property in the state and sustenance of a safe environment for citizens to go about their lawful businesses".

It was revealed that fleeing armed robbers set the police patrol van on fire on Thursday, 22 September 2022, along Igarra-Ibillo road in Edo state, to prevent the police from pursuing them.

However, an online medium, SaharaReporters claimed it had seen ISWAP posts claiming responsibility for the attack, barely 24hrs after the group claimed another responsibility for an attack in Ondo State.

Edo is in the South-South region of Nigeria.

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