GROUP ALLEGES IMO AND ANAMBRA GOVERNORS HAVE ABANDONED LARGE SWATHES OF UNGOVERNED SPACES TO HOODLUMS
Prominent civil rights advocacy group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has tasked South East governors especially Governors Hope Uzodimma of Imo State and Charles Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State to be up and doing and begin to build back burnt police stations and ensure the drafting of adequate numbers of armed security forces to secure extensive areas of their states abandoned by Nigeria police force for fear of unknown gunmen.
HURIWA said the realities on ground in some of these flashpoints of the activities of armed non state actors left alone by these state governments to operate at will is that in a lot of these communities in Anambra and Imo State most specifically, armed security forces only operate at the Highways and within the state capitals thereby letting a large swathes of these states to become desolate and exist as ungoverned spaces thereby motivating all kinds of armed hoodlums, kidnappers, armed robbers and sundry terrorists to continue to terrorise residents of most of these communities without any meaningful interventions of armed security agencies sustained with taxpayers funds.
HURIWA expressed regrets that in the interiors of most localities in the three Senatorial zones of Imo State and especially around the Umunna to Okigwe and Orlu axis, those territories have been abandoned after their police stations were set on fire by unidentified persons classified by most people as unknown gunmen just as the failure of the state governor Hope Uzodimma to reconstruct and rebuild the burnt and destroyed police stations in many local government councils in the State has left those communities vulnerable to sophisticated and even crimes of not so sophisticated nature thereby affecting economic, social, cultural and religious activities during this Yuletide season in Imo State. In Anambra State, there are fears by the residents that armed cultists wouldn’t let them enjoy their freedom of movement and are denying people of the inalienable right to dignity of their human petson and even right to life.
The Rights group recalled with sadness that on or about 7.30pm on Monday being the 26th day of December, 2022, a gang of kidnappers abducted Mr. Chicago Nwankwo (a native of Ndiogbuonyeoma uno), around St.Philips’ area of Ndiaekeme, Arondizuogu. As at the time of filing this report, his way about is yet unknown, no call from his abductors and no ransom has been demanded. Those who reside in the East are been advised on viral social media posts to be extremely careful or better still to avoid any unnecessary movement.
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko National Coordinator of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) recalled that in recent time, gunmen have unleashed series of attacks on police stations in the South East with some of the incidents leading to fatalities aside from wanton destruction of property.
HURIWA specifically asserted that Imo State is now under the siege of five categories of terrorists which include armed mainstream terrorists operating under deceptive guises, armed kidnappers for ransom, hired assasins, thieves riding on motorcycles specialised in robbing shop owners towards evening just as the Rights group gave a list of seven attacks on police stations in Imo and Anambra states in just 41 days, from February 20, 2022 and April 1, 2022.
HURIWA consequently recalled that on Sunday, February 20, 2022, armed men suspected to be members of the proscribed IPOB/ESN in their numbers went to the Isu Divisional police headquarters in two Toyota Sienna buses, a Toyota Camry car and an unspecified number of motorcycles. The hoodlums took advantage of the porous neighbourhood and attacked the station from the rear, shooting indiscriminately and throwing petrol bombs and IEDs that ignited the station. Their raid led to the death of two police officer with the police in turn arresting 18 of the attackers.
Besides, Armed men on Friday, March 19 2022 launched an attack on Ekwulobia Police station in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State. The incident happened less than 24 hours after policemen and naval officers were killed in different locations across the state. The police station was among those razed during the October 2021 #EndSARS crisis but it was renovated recently. There are reports that two persons were killed in the attack.
HURIWA asserted that On Monday, March 28, 2022, gunmen stormed the Otoko Divisional Police Headquarters in the Obowo Local Government Area of Imo State, along Owerri–Umuahia road. The Public Relations Officer, CSP Mike Abattam, while confirming the incident, said “armed men suspected to be members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)/Eastern Security Network (ESN), its militia wing, came in their numbers from the rear of the division, which is an ungoverned forest, threw petrol bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that fell on the transit camp and a vehicle, shooting sporadically.” Three undetonated explosives, four pieces of expended ammunition, five live cartridges, 33 expended catridges, two masks, one pump action gun and a motor saw machine were reportedly recovered from the gunmen. Minimal damage was caused to the transit camp, and a vehicle. Though no life was lost, a police operative sustained an injury.
Also, HURIWA recalled that hours after the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of zone 9, Umuahia, Isaac Akinmoyede, left the state after a one-day working visit, gunmen in the early hours of Saturday, March 19, 2022 attacked and set ablaze the Umuguma Divisional Police Headquarters in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State, killing two police men. This particular attack took place a few days after two warders who were part of a Joint Security Task Force were killed when gunmen attacked their patrol vehicle in Okigwe.
Regrettably, HURIWA stated that 24 hours after yet-to-be identified gunmen attacked Umuguma Divisional Police Headquarters situated in the Owerri West LGA of the state, killing two police constabularies on duty, burning vehicles and freeing suspects in cells, another attack was launched on the Omuma Divisional Police Headquarters in the Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State.
Omuma is the home town of the state governor, Hope Uzodinma but it has become the flashpoint of deadly attacks, says HURIWA.
HURIWA recalled that the attackers engaged policemen in a gun duel on arrival at the Omuma Divisional Police Headquarters. Four of the attackers were killed as policemen and the operatives of the Department of State Services engaged the gunmen in a gun battle. Gunmen in the early hours of Friday, April 1, 2022 invaded the Mbieri Divisional headquarters situated in the Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State. They arrived at Mbieri Divisional headquarters around 3am and opened fire on the police facility.
On Saturday, April 1, 2022, hoodlums attacked the Amichi Divisional Police Headquarters in Nnewi South Local Government Area and some others in Anambra State. The attacks came barely 24 hours after the administrative headquarters of Nnewi South LGA was attacked, leaving two people dead.
HURIWA has therefore tasked the governments of Imo and Anambra to get committed towards protecting their vulnerable population who are left to their cruel fate in the hands of daredevil assassins, kidnappers, terrorists, armed herdsmen and scores of other armed hoodlums who have taken liberty of the non existent police presence in about 2/3 of these States to cause monumental human suffering and deprivations of basic and fundamental human rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999.