Residents of Afikpo North Local Government Area (LGA) of Ebonyi state have appealed to concerned authorities to urgently intervene in the insecurity experienced in the area, especially incessant clashes involving rival secret cult groups.
In separate interviews with Blueprint Tuesday, residents of the town expressed fear at the open display of violence and braggadocio by cultists in the area and seeming helplessness of security agencies, saying that many residents were maimed by axe, machete and gun-wielding cultists.
One of the residents, Mr Okochi Okechukwu, said he witnessed the cultists shooting sporadically into the air in broad daylight, causing many hapless residents to scamper to safety
“It happened before me at Eke Market, opposite Peace Park. The cultists shot sporadically into the air and caused havoc to people as many took off in order to save themselves from death. The cultists were just parading Afikpo unchallenged. Helpless residents avoided passing through Amangballa-Amaizu road: to avoid danger,” he said.
Also, another resident, Mr Oti Abali, said there was no single security operative in sight Monday night when cultists, numbering more than 50, terrorised the town with cutlasses and other weapons, making many residents not to sleep the whole night.
“I didn’t sleep well last night. In fact I was awake till 12. Those boys still passed where I was sitting as at 10pm. About 50 of them wielding cutlasses and other weapons. No single security at sight,” he said.
Similarly, a legal practitioner, Barrister Christopher Akani, said that policemen appear helpless as cultists continue operating unchallenged.
“The last thing any sane person will swallow is the police words: ‘we are on top of the situation’. Dare to believe that and you go on thinking everything is under control. Whatever you see, you are on your own! The issue of cultism in Ebonyi State, especially Afikpo and Onueke axis, is a thing to worry about. I wonder what our security agencies are doing,” he said.
However, when Blueprint reporter contacted the Ebonyi state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Loveth Obianuju Odah, she said that no incident of shooting or security threat has been reported to the police.
She said: “There is no shooting in Afikpo. At least, we have not received any report. I am not aware of cult clashes in Afikpo. The DPO reported few days ago that the area is calm. However, I am going to call him right away to find out the situation.
“If there are shootings, arson and cult clashes, it is the duty of residents to report it. However, I will be disappointed if I find out that no resident bothered to report to the police about the aforementioned. Security is everybody’s business. We must not wait for the situation to get out of hand before making official complaints.
“I am also surprised that no journalist has called to report the situation to us as we have many media friends from home. Right now, we’re making many investigations on several reports before us. However, like I told you, I will call the DPO to find out the situation in Afikpo North.”