The police in Bayelsa State on Wednesday said tough times awaited kidnappers, cultists, armed robbers and other criminals following a formal launch of a new crime-fighting strategy, Operation Puff Adder (OPA).

Launching the operation at the state police command in Yenagoa, the Commissioner of Police, Uche Anozia, said already 25 suspects had been arrested for various criminal activities through the applications of the new operational strategies.

He said the suspects were arrested for kidnapping, cultism, armed robberies and other violent crimes adding that some of the cases were in court with the suspects remanded in prison custody.

Anozia said seven locally-made revolver pistols, 28 localły-made single-barreled pistols, four-locally-made double-barreled guns, two AK47 fabricated rifles and one beretta pistol were recovered from the suspects.

The police boss further disclosed that 23 .9mm live ammunition, 50 live cartridges and 48 7.62mm live ammunition were retrieved from the suspects.

He said the achievements were possible following tremendous support and cooperation of traditional rulers, Police Community Relations Committees (PCRC), Community Development Committees (CCDs), Civil Society Organisations and other partners.

Explaining OPA, Anozia said it was initiated by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar to tackle cases of banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes across the country.

He said in compliance with the IGP’s directive, the state command set up a special squad comprising 170 gallant officers and men to officially launch OPA in the state.

He said members of the OPA team were selected from the Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), State Intelligence Bureau (SIB), Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Anti-Cultism/Kidnapping Unit and Anti-Bomb Squad.

He said: “The operation is designed to source actionable intelligence to confront and annihilate criminals and mop-up illegal arms from unauthorized individuals. The squad will conduct intelligence-driven raids on criminal hideouts targeting cultists, armed robbers and kidnappers among others.

“In addition, drug abuse is one of the major factors that fuel crime. This operation will target locations where illicit drugs are sold and consumed, confiscate and arrest the outlaws with a view to bringing them to justice.

“This operations will engage community leaders and youths in periodic meetings to find lasting solutions to the challenges of crimes in the society. The police will also utilize non-state security actors such as vigilante groups, community development committees and youth bodies to establish functional community partnership”.

The police boss added: “I hereby warn all criminals in Bayelsa State to either shun crime entirely or alternatively flee the state because the command under my leadership will do all within its power to purge the state of all criminal elements”.

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