By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
Tragedy struck in Anambra state Wednesday evening at Isuofia, Aguata local government area, home town of former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and a frontline governorship aspirant on the platform of All progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, for the November 6 poll in the state, Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo.
Unknown gunmen attacked the meeting venue of Prof Soludo with youths of his community and shot three policemen. They died at the spot according to eyewitnesses. They abducted the Commissioner for Public Utilities, Engr Emeka Ezenwanne. Prof Soludo is safe but his whereabouts undisclosed, according to the state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr Ikenga Tochukwu.
A close friend of Soludo, Mr Onyeka, a former member of the state House of Assembly said: “No cause for alarm. Just know that Prof is safe. Darkness can never submerge light. Please remember him, his immediate and extended families in your prayers. Thanks.” This attack wasn’t for Soludo. If it’s for him, he would be dead before one says jack. From their operative mood , the attack was targeted at security agents and the abduction of a Commissioner was just secondary thought. It is unbelievable what our Anambra is turning to. Is the new Commissioner for Police, Mr Monday Bala Kuryas being ridiculed by these agents of darkness or what?
Just in a month, over 15 security operatives including police officers, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Correctional Service have been shot by unknown gunmen within Anambra. The hoodlums killed three policemen at Neni junction in Anaocha Local Government Area of the state while their security vehicle was burnt.
Again, four naval officers were killed at Awkuzu in the Oyi Local Government Area of the state and their firearms carted away. These attacks are targeted at the Nigerian security operatives and still security agents have not unmasked the brains behind the attack.
On 12th February, 2021, few weeks ago, a traditional ruler, Obi of Uruagu Nnewi, Nnewi in Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra state, His Highness, Obi Charles Afamefuna Obi (Ogidi IV), was kidnapped on his way back from Oraifite. He was returning from the burial of the wife of the traditional ruler of Orafite, His Royal Highness, Igwe Dr. Dan Udoji.
He is a member of the ancient royal family of Obi Uruagu, Nnewi. He succeeded his late father, Obi Nnamdi Atuchukwu Charles Obi (Ogidi III) as the 15th Traditional Ruler of Uruagu. The business guru is also into importation and sale of vehicles.
The Obi was said to have driven himself to Orafite and was alone at the time of his abduction after the gunmen allegedly surrendered him shooting sporadically into the air.
His kingdom, Uruagu, is made up of 11 major communities which include Ndiojukwu, Akaboedoji, Okpunoeze, Umumejiaku, Akaboukwu, Umumeagbu, Edoji, Okpuno, Umezeagu, Akaboezem and Obiagu.
His wife Lolo Udochukwu Obi (nee Nwokenagu) along with members of his family and the entire Nnewi kingdom are distraught at the ugly development.
His Highness, Obi Afam Charles Obi, is the second-ranking Nnewi traditional ruler, after His Royal Highness, Igwe Dr. Kenneth Orizu, Obi of Otolo, and the traditional ruler of Nnewi.
His territory is home to the popular Nkwo Nnewi market made up of about eight (8) different markets which include New Motorcycle Spare Parts, New Motor Spare Parts, Nwagbara Market (Mgbuka Machine Parts), Building Material Market, Electrical/Electronics Market, Nnewi General Market (Ime Afia), Generator Parts Market and Timber Dealers Market (Ọgbọ Osisi).
While his subjects are lamenting the kidnap of their youthful ruler who is still under 40 years of age, different reactions have however began to trail his decision to drive alone to the funeral? One wonders why Obiano’s sophisticated security cameras which his government claimed to have installed across the state failed to capture the scenario.
Before October 2019, what’s on the lips of everyone in Governor Willie Obiano’s government was ‘Anambra is the safest state in Nigeria’. The state media organs ABS and National Light hyped it to crescendo. Anyone with a contrary view or suggestion was seen as enemy of Obiano’s good governance. Has Obiano upheld good governance? The legendary team of media advisers, assistants and liaisons as well as social media team in almost all offices constituted nuisance with the propaganda so to speak. The situation was made worst by the so call e-rats who attacked our sensibilities. The police too and other security organs cashed in on this to irritate the public sensibilities at times.
Even if it is their right to so do, there should have been decorum and listening ears, especially when the public who are stakeholders in the Anambra enterprise raise issues as they concern the society where they live.
But, because of the massive investment, it’s ridiculous for anyone to raise issues of crime when Anambra State Governor Obiano claims to have turned the state into a Smart City. It was not in doubt that former Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi took security to another level when it became an albatross for him to perform under the precarious situation he met on assumption of office. He faced the security challenges squarely with everything within his powers as Executive Governor of the state. Yes! One can claim without equivocation that about 70 percent of the security issues that bedevilled the state had been tackled before Governor Obiano came on board in 2014. It is on record that on assumption of office, Obiano highly commended Obi’s administration for simultaneously developing the state in all sectors. Curiously however, the beats suddenly changed like a broken record churning out ridiculous tales sounding like the security situation was at zero state when he took over the mantle of leadership. This is not my headache for now but it’s really a shame how lies fly about.
It is sad that most journalists who witnessed everything seemed hopelessly and helplessly gagged to report the true position but rather chose to keep mute in the face of festering lies. The problem now is the sustainability of the lies. Even some lawmakers who should know better even speak off facts alluding that before Obiano Anambra was a den of robbers, criminals and kidnappers forgetting the enactment of laws which authorised demolition of property that are proceed of crime and operation wipe off kidnappers that yielded huge results before Obiano took over.
It’s not in doubt that Obiano has strengthened security infrastructure with his budgets and involvement. However, the achievement recorded is not commensurate with the amount of resources allotted as some of his aides saw it as a drain pipe through which the states resources are mindlessly milked.
It will be recalled that in his inaugural speech seven years ago, Obiano promised to strengthen security, particularly the community policing, among other promises on oil and gas, agriculture and industrialization. But the one he failed woefully was his promise to establish a refinery in the state within one year in office. Seven years in the life of his administration there is nothing to show in that regards. Where are the e-rats? Descend on the truth bearer!
Governor Willie Obiano vowed to deal with crime and criminalities in the state when he was sworn in. He vowed to continue from where Mr. Peter Obi stopped. Obi donated vehicles, in some cases two to each of the communities, in the state for community policing. He donated too to markets, hundreds of vehicles to security organizations in the state including para-military organs.
Obiano upped the ante as he not only donated vehicles, motorbikes to security agencies but also invested in modern security gadgets to fight crime in the state. To the best of my knowledge, he is yet to donate to communities. He termed his investment in security Smart City project. He piloted a team of over 150 officers in what was code named Operation “Kpochapu” meaning Operation Wipe Out Crime.
What impressed me most in the second phase of his investment was investment on Smart Closed-Circuit Cameras (CCTVs) which was installed in Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha among others. In addition, he bought 111 IVM Patrol vehicles equipped with communication devices; three trucks, 71 smart motorbikes, 49 pickups and nine mobile surveillance vans equipped with electronic devices. This CCTV’s and Surveillance Vans among others were aimed to pick criminals before they operate and even locate criminals as they plan to operate. When they plan outside the state , immediately they step into Anambra the cameras were expected to pick them. No crime was supposed to go undetected no matter where it happened in Anambra state. I saw one unit mounted even at Ebenebe with surveillance team attached. It is worrisome that despite the huge investments in the security infrastructure, crime particularly kidnapping and violent crimes still go on daily undetected.
My worry is what are the security agencies like the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), as well as the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), the Nigeria Customs Service and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), doing with all those gadgets they received? Will Obiano come out to superintend the gadgets to perform as promised to detect crimes before occurring and keep Anambra safe in order to maintain its safest position?
Obiano had boasted that in the last five years, Anambra had maintained an enviable record as Nigeria’s safest state and that he was determined to make it more secured than ever. Is that still the position today? Even before now , has Anambra ever attained the safest state or was the claim a mere political propaganda?
At a recent outing Obiano said “We believe that the key to a happy and prosperous state is tight security architecture, which is why our administration made security our number one priority.
“Crime detection, arrest and punishment will be easy because these security devices are some of the most sophisticated and highly effective surveillance equipment in the world.” He warned criminals to leave the state as the second phase of the “Operation Kpochapu” would be deadlier than the first phase.
According to him, ‘we have declared a total war on criminals such as kidnappers, human traffickers, bandits, cultists and car snatchers in the state’, even as he urged the police as the lead security agency to collaborate with other security agencies to effectively utilise the gadgets donated to them toward a more secured state.
He further urged residents to report crime and any suspicious movements within their environment by dialling 112, a toll free line. One still wonders why people should still dial 112 when the gadgets are so sophisticated that they can detect crime and crime scenes miles away? If these gadgets are not delivering as promised it will be safe to assume that the governor was cajoled into buying at a premium outdated equipment in the place of ultra-modern highly sophisticated gadgets. Who was in charge of buying these moribund equipment that couldn’t do the work it was brought in to do? Does it mean Anambra State has been scammed?
It will be recalled that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, while receiving the security gadgets assured the security gadgets would motivate and enhance the operational capacity of the state security agencies while thanking Mr Obiano for prioritising security in the state and urged other state governors to emulate him.
“The level of security gadgets donated by the state government is a total package that when deployed, crime will be a thing of the past in Anambra.
“The security of this state is very paramount because it is one of the most populous states in the federation. We promise to fully deploy these equipment to combat crime and ensure public security and safety in the state,” Mr. Adamu had said.
In addition to “Operation Mkpochapu”, government also launched “Operation Sheba” to strengthen the existing security apparatus in the state. According to James Eze, Chief Media Officer to Governor Willie Obiano, Operation Sheba, which to them was biblical, had its squad split into three units of 50 officers each and designated to 24 hours surveillance on each of the three senatorial districts of the state. He said Operation Sheba would provide more depth to the all-conquering Operation Kpochapu which is credited with wiping out criminals, especially kidnappers from the state in less than two months of swinging into action. Operation Sheba’s strength lied in its high mobility and penetrating surveillance that covers the nooks and crannies of Anambra State and its rapid response ability.
He noted that known dark-spots across the state have been wiped of it’s criminal garb with security tents that are heavily fortified with sandbags and sharp-shooting officers on 24 hours vigilance. What a fine grammar presented for effects but has this praises laced with propaganda achieved anything security wise? Could James Eze please speak out!
Please brethren what is happening today is painful and unheard of in a clime with such massive security equipment Obiano paid for and deployed or are some section of the security agencies sabotaging his good intentions? I ask because every day we hear of savages in human clothing taking over our state.
Why are we still utilizing the same crude style of policing and security watch when Millions if not Billions of Naira have been invested to provide modern security architecture?
The other day, a young kidnapping gang raped a teenage victim over N10m ransom. The teenager was reported to have been held hostage for 27 days during which period she was allegedly defiled severally by the suspects. She was abducted from Onitsha and was held hostage at Ogidi. Yet, this ugly incident happened under the watch of security agents with modern sophisticated gadgets with capacity to track criminals with ease?
Another 24-year-old woman was kidnapped and raped after collecting N400,000 from her relations as ransom. She was lured by the gang under the pretext of offering her a job. This act happened at Awkuzu in the Oyi Local Government Area of the state. The suspects were Ekwugha Chinazo (25) of Mgbguzo Awkuzu; Chidiebere Ogoegbunam (24) of Egbu Awkuzu; and David Nnaemeka (19) of the same address.
At Awada, one Amaechi was kidnapped amongst several other kidnap cases that happened from last year till date in Anambra State. These ugly occurrences are not only shocking but surprising.
Recently, an unidentified man, his wife and daughter were reportedly kidnapped by gunmen along Enugu-Agidi- Nawgu road in Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra. President General of Enugu-Agidi community, Mr Ndubuisi Obijiofor confirmed that the victims were marched into the bush after a sustained sporadic gunshot into the air.
“This is the second time gunmen are abducting road users this year, and the fourth time in two years,” he said.
“The man is still in captivity while his wife and child were released about 3am this morning. I have contacted the Police and they promised to do their best to rescue the abductees.
“Incidence of abduction on Enugu-Agidi-Nawgwu road has become worrisome, we need increased security presence there and total repair of the road for smooth drives,” he said.
Police Public Relations Officer, Anambra Command, SP Haruna Mohammed confirmed the kidnap too assuring that a team of Rapid Response Squad was drafted to the scene. Why not use the Hi-tech security gadgets bought by Obiano, one wonders? There are so many unreported abduction and car snatching on daily basis. What’s happening to the security gadgets capable of gathering information?
To further demonstrate how porous the security situation is, a worst case of brutal murder took place in broad day light at Umuehiam community in Abam, Azia in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State penultimate Friday. One Mr. Kenneth Ekwesianya, his wife and thirty two year old daughter were gruesomely murdered in cold blood inside a church. What a sacrilege!
The chairman of Umuehiam community, Mr. Ebuka Chukwulobe in company of members of his executive council of the community and other sons and daughters of Umuehiam exonerated late Kenneth Ekwesianya and family of embezzling any community money as their killers alleged in a note they left after killing them. The note by their assailants was misleading and diversionary, he said.
While repudiating the allegations of fraud, Chukwulobe explained that the man was a school principal who served his fatherland meritoriously for thirty five years; his wife too until her untimely death was a school teacher while their daughter who was killed along with her parents just finished her NYSC program and has started pursuing her post graduate studies. He added they were well known in the community and have never at any time being fraudulent.
“This sacrilege committed against three of them in a swoop of madness must not go unpunished. We know that no amount of crying or anything can bring them back to life but we demand justice for them.” He said.
The oldest man in the village, 100 year old Pa Boniface Onyejekwe was shattered and joined protest against the gruesome murder by blessing youths on peaceful demonstration. He said that he has never seen the kind of sacrilegious killing in a church altar in his entire life even as he declared that the perpetrators must not go unpunished.
The Transition Committee (TC) chairman, Sir Jude Obiwulu and Secretary General of Azia General Assembly, AGA, Onyebuagu Jude said the perpetrators of the dastardly act will never have peace until they are apprehended.
“By the grace of God, wherever the people who did this evil in our local government area are hiding, they will never have peace. The blood of the people they murdered on the church altar will continue to hunt and taunt them until they confessed their sins, the long arm of the law must catch up with them.
Why resigning to God when we have security gadgets that can within minutes pick up who and who were responsible for the dastardly act? Does it mean that the gun shots were not heard by people in the village? How can three different gunshots blow in a tiny village of Azia and nobody not even one person heard the sound to enable investigators have an idea of what transpired.
My alarm is increasing by the day. Last weekend dare devil tricycle (keke) operators reported to be engaged in armed robbery unleashed terror on motorists at Nkpor junction (round-about) in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State. The report had it that they have been terrorizing Nkpor axis. Just this Monday, they robbed at about 6 p.m. Their dare devil operation caused stampede among travellers and road side traders.
Daily Independent reported that no fewer than 10 people were said to have been robbed of their cash, mobile handsets and other valuables by those men of the underworld operating in Keke.
According to the newspaper report, the first gang of the robbers numbering about five rode on tricycle with registered commercial colour when they stormed the scene.
They were said to have robbed at gunpoint, shooting indiscriminately to scare away anybody that dared them.
A victim who pleaded anonymity said the armed robbers operate on daily basis as the police are around to challenge them.
“Since the killing of two policemen here at Nkpor junction about a month ago, the police have run away from here and that is why the robbers have a field day.
“They rob at will and people run away on hourly basis every day because the police are not there. Road side traders now close early for fear of attack by the hoodlums.”
Also a shop owner simply identified as Okoh said, “My brother, we are in trouble here (Nkpor); they rob us daily and nobody is challenging them. Just yesterday they stabbed some people with broken bottles. This is unbelievable in our state, the safest state in Nigeria.”
The security situation in the state has become so worrisome that it drew the attention of members of the State House of Assembly. Led by Speaker of the House, Right Honorable Uche Okafor, a resolution was passed to urge Governor Willie Obiano to urgently direct all relevant security agencies to intervene in the happenings at Ogwuikpele, Ogbaru Local Government Area and Azia in Ihiala Local Government Area to restore peace.
Member representing Ogbaru Two Constituency, Sir Somchukwu Udeze had raised the alarm when he informed the House that six persons from Ogwuikpele community were recently murdered and their houses set ablaze by unknown persons.
He was not alone as the Deputy Speaker, Dr. Paschal Agbodike informed the House that three persons were recently murdered in Azia by faceless men. He provoked me when he applauded security agencies for their efforts to apprehend the perpetrators of the inhuman act. His commendation of the security agencies came even when the perpetrators of the criminal acts are yet to be nabbed.
While Agbodike was engaged in his hallalluyah chanting, his counterparts from Oyi Constituency, Honorable Charles Obimma and Anambra West Constituency, Honorable Patrick Udeoba condemned the criminal acts and called for total overhauling of the state security agencies.
Why are we still daily inundated with disturbing stories of one kidnapping or murder incidents after another. Why should police still be talking about “fierce battle with kidnappers” when those gadgets are supposed to be deployed to yield information that would help nip crime in the bud?
SP Haruna Mohammed, the Police Public Relations Officer, over to you?
This savage must stop if our state must truly live up to its sobriquet “Light of The Nation.” Until that is done our claim to the “safest state” in the federation will remain what it is, a mirage.
Comrade Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD is a Journalist, Editor and Blogger @ www.odogwublog.com
He can be reached on 08060750240 firstname.lastname@example.org