Anambra like other states in the country has its security challenge especially in the recent times. OKECHUKWU ONUEGBU reports on efforts made by government and stakeholders to nip it in the bud.
From the month of March to May 2021, the security situation in Anambra state has been in the nosedive on daily basis. For instance, about four Naval officers, 13 police officers and two staff of Correctional Services (prison warders ) have been killed with several others injured at different locations in the state following attacks by unknown gunmen at checkpoints and police stations.
Hoodlums, who appeared to have taken over the state, did not only kill the officers, but also carted aware their riffles and ammunition. They as well razed down some of the affected police stations. Some of the affected police formations were Awkuzu, Ekwulobi, Omogho, Mkpologwu, Mgbakwu and Zone 13 police headquarters in Ukpo. Two officers were equally killed while safeguarding a political gathering where a governorship aspirant, Prof Charles Soludo was attending a youths programme.
Similarly, cult related killings has increased across the state. For instance, not less than 20 persons have been gunned down by suspected rival cults in Awka, Onistha, Amansea, Ekwulobia, Nnewi, among others. The latest were two young men killed opposite Anambra State Ministry of Lands (behind the Government House) and Emma Nnaemeka Avenue (unizik temporary site), Awka, on May 19.
It was learnt that most of these attacks were carried out by people either riding on tricycles (keke) or tinted glass vehicles. As a result, the state police command placed a ban on use of tinted glass vehicles. Despite the ban, investigation round the city shows that they are still much sighted in all parts of the state and along the trunk A, Trunk B and Trunk C roads with none harassing or prosecuting such defaulters.
Some parts of Awka, the state capital city, tricycle operators have been banned from plying feeders roads from 7pm to 6am daily. Awka, the capital city used her armed vigilant members to enforce compliance to the proclamation. There had been a report where the enforcers torment violators of this ‘new normal’ with whips until they began to comply fully.
Also to curtail the attacks on security apparatus, the police, military and paramilitary formations including the Government House and Governor’s Lodge, mounted roadblocks closer to the offices and headquarters to restrict speedy access to them by hoodlums.
Currently, to access the State Police Command Headquarters, prison or governors lodge all located at Amawbia, civilians and poor masses must abandon their vehicles and trek for over 30 minutes.
Similarly, people living around the affected security posts that own vehicles no longer make use of them. They must trek for hours or over about 30 minutes before they could gain access to commuters to their different locations. Transporters have equally abandoned their parks to places where these roadblocks either stopped or started to waylay trekkers coming out of the secured places.
The heightened insecurity has made the populace to be literary sleeping with one eye open, even as businesses suffer setback in the state. Traffic gridlocks and prices of goods and services are on increase in the state as well.
Besides the attacks by unknown gunmen, inter communal land clashes seemed to have risen in the state as well. Communities like Awba ofemili, Achalla and Amanuke, Awkzu, Igbariam, Omor and Anaku, Umueri and Aguleri and others have had doses of it between March to May 2021, with several people either injured or killed in the process. Herdsmen attack is also on increase.
As the event unfolded Anambra state government at different occasions placed curfew on affected locations, aside other security measures they took publicly or secretly to resolve them. The events directly or indirectly had influenced deployment and redeployment of two police officers into the state less than two months. One, CP Monday Bala Kuryas came in late February and was replaced by CP Chris Owolabi, in late April.
Moved by the actions of the hoodlums, the state governor, Willie Obiano, assured that the state was doing everything possible to arrest the ugly situation as well as bring the perpetrators to justice.
He acknowledged recipient of more police, army, navy, and DSS personnel into the state to enforce the law and order, reiterating that, Fitted tinted glasses on vehicles as well as covered plate numbers would no longer be allowed on all roads within the state, all kinds of touting in the state in whatever guise, especially in Onitsha, would no longer be tolerated.”
This was probably why Arroma junction and other strategic locations in Awka witnessed influx of strenuously looking security officers sometimes last month. However, the recent proliferation of attacks seemed to multiply despite their presence although at hinterlands and streets of Awka, Onitsha (Upper-Iweka axis mostly) and others.
Obiano also attended meetings of South East governors forum held at Enugu which brought about Ebubeagu Security Network, and the latest Southern Governors Forum meeting held at Asaba where open grazing was banned, restructuring of the country was canvassed for, respect for federal character principle, the unity of the country, state police and convocation of a national dialogue, were reached.
The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Reverend Paulinus Ezeokafor threw his weight behind the outcomes of the Southern Governors Forum decision on security in the region and urged for full and speedy implementation.
Ezeokafor also enjoined the federal government to show commitment in addressing insecurity and others issues impeding Nigeria’s development, adding that those reaping from the present situation would surely reap what they sow.
On his part, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Anambra state chapter president, Prince Emeka Udodeme, posited that if the decisions by Southern governors is fully implemented, security challenges would be addressed in the state and other parts of the country.
According to Udodeme, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo loves good initiative and progress, and would never hesitate from supporting it to the letter.
Udodeme, who urged perpetrators of the crimes to retrace their steps as the consequences would harm even the coming generation, entreated the South-east people to embrace peace while agitating for equity and fairness as they would not be achieved through violence but diplomacy.
Also speaking, a governorship aspirant in the state under the All Progressives Congress (APC), Paul Orajiaka, hailed the formation of Ebubeagu, noting that it would provide a platform for mutual corporation in tackling the rising security threats in the region.
“The security outfit must infuse the security peculiarities of each South-east state for it to effectively tackle the security challenges in each state of the region. Every South-east state must work out a security system that is peculiar to its immediate challenges. An effective, pragmatic and robust security system unique to each state is the only lasting solution to the security challenge in the region.”