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Analysis: Police, Ugwuanyi Grapple with Resurgence of Heinous Crimes in Enugu




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From Ignatius Okpara, Enugu

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Security, whether in a developed or developing country as Nigeria, remains a serious issue hence, no responsible government can afford to toy with the all-important sector.

For any nation to make meaningful headway or attract foreign investors to its economic arena, her political leader must always bring security issues to the front burner as well as make it have a place in the government’s priority list.

Since the inception of the ongoing sixteen years  democratic experience in Nigeria, insecurity no doubt ,had remained a serious cog in the wheel of economic progress of the country, and most States in Nigeria, perhaps, due to the insensibility of the political leaders to the sector, as most of them only pay lip services to the issue.

It is a common knowledge in the country that virtually all the geo political zones of Nigeria have had their fare shares of insecurity. For instance, citizens of  the South South region of the country are used to the operations of the Niger Delta militants, those in the North are familiar with the deadly Islamic sect, popularly known as  Boko Haram, while kidnapping for ransom is synonymous with south east Nigeria.

As the various unholy act continues unabated in some states of the federation, most citizens have blamed the development on lack of political will by governors of such areas. It is believed that while some of the respective state chief executives (governors) who are also the chief security officers of their states have continued to inject huge amount into the sector, with a view to stemming the tide, some derives joy in paying lip service to it.

Regrettably, in Enugu State, south East Nigeria, which is the rallying point for Ndigbo, the insecurity issue which was  almost becoming a thing of the past before  the incumbent governor of the state, Dr. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi took over mantle of leadership of the state, has started rearing its ugly head in the coal city state.

Before the former governor of the state, Barrister Sullivan Iheanacho Chime, handed over power to governor Ugwuanyi on May 29th 2015, the state was relatively peaceful, and calm, contrary to what it was between 1999- 2007, when it was a safe haven for hoodlums and crime perpetrators who   engaged in all forms of criminality with impunity. In fact, the state generally, as at that time was a no go area for investors.

However, on assumption of office, Governor Ugwuanyi, as an Ambassador of peace, did not hesitate to build on the feat recorded by his predecessor in the war against the  hydra-headed insecurity challenges, as he quickly  put machinery in motion to sustain the relative peace in the state.

Prior to Chime’s assumption of office, in 2007, innocent residents of the state were going to sleep with one of their eye open for fear of the unknown.

In keeping with his administration’s resolve, at inception, to give utmost attention to the security of life and property of the people, Ugwuanyi’s led administration has continue to maintain a robust synergy between the police and other security agencies in the state.

The Ugwuanyi’s government, had  in the last three and half years, equipped the police, Army, Air force Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corpse NSCDC, among others with operational patrol vehicles and security gadgets, so as to enable them perform optimally.

Immediate past Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Idris Ibrahim, had during a visit to the governor before his retirement, described Enugu as “a very peaceful and friendly state, not only to the police but also to all laws abiding citizens, and solicited further support of the state government to the Enugu  command to enable it  discharge its responsibilities effectively.

The ex-police boss, who  spoke through the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in-charge of the south-Eastern region, Mr. Valentine Ntomchukwu, added that Enugu State could be  regarded as one of the safest and peaceful States in Nigeria.

Ugwuanyi, had in his response noted the importance of security for the stability, growth and development of the society, stressing that “without it, engagement in meaningful social, political and economic activities, will be virtually impossible.

According to the governor, Enugu State is regarded as one of the safest and peaceful states in Nigeria and this is as result of the strategic and exemplary partnership that the state government has maintained with security agencies in the State as well as other initiatives designed to involve the citizenry in security efforts.

“It is certainly in our interest that this happy state of affairs is sustained and that crime and criminality are reduced to the barest minimum in Enugu State. We therefore whole heartedly, welcome the current measures embarked by the Nigerian Police to achieve this objective and we reassure you of our usual support and cooperation towards that .

“As I have said earlier, this is a gesture that we will continue to make from time to time and as the occasion demands in order to enhance the capacity of the police to carry out their very essential duties diligently and efficiently,” the governor declared, while commending the Nigeria Police and other security agencies “for their commitment and cooperation towards the attainment of our common goal of enthroning peace and security in the state.”

The governor further explained that the security vehicles were fitted with ultra-modern communication gadgets to boost the operations of the command and help make the state safer and more peaceful, recalling that the government had previously donated similar vehicles to the police and other security agencies soon after his assumption of office.

Former Commissioner of police in the state, Mr. Danmallam Mohammed, had in a remarks during an event in the state applauded Governor Ugwuanyi for his “tremendous” support to the command towards the provision of adequate security of lives and property in the state.

The police commissioner, who spoke while taking delivery of 22 brand new patrol vans donated to the Enugu State Police Command by the state government to enhance their security operations, stated that the “huge support” from Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration has “resulted in the ranking of Enugu as the most peaceful and safest state in the country.”

Mr. Mohammed noted that the security of lives and property and “total tranquility” being witnessed in the state was a deliberate action of the state government, stressing that Governor Ugwuanyi strongly believes that “the purpose of government is for the security and social wellbeing of its citizens, as guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.”

He added that the security vehicles was the latest in a series of support and commitment from the state government, promising that the force will continue to keep faith with the governor’s philosophy of zero tolerance for crime and his policy towards “a crime free Enugu State.

Unfortunately, the once peaceful and one of the safest states in Nigeria, (Enugu), is today fast becoming the headquarters of crime and criminality, as hoodlums, especially kidnappers now find it a safe haven.

Just in one month, (March) 2019, over five prominent indigenes of the  State were mowed down in cold blood aside, other pockets of crimes . But the climax was the recent brutal murder of a catholic priest brazenly.

Before the recent brutal killing of these prominent indigenes of the state, it would be recalled that a Monarch in the state, Igwe Steven Nwatu, the traditional ruler of Ogbozine, Akpugo community, in Nkanu West local government area of the state was murdered in a cold blood in June 2018.

Among the recent victims was 42 year-old Reverend Father Clement Rapuluchukwu  Ugwu, the Parish Priest, of St. Mark Catholic Church, Obinofia Ndiuno in Ezeagu Local Government Area, who was kidnapped by gunmen  from his parish around 9 pm on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, shot and taken to an unknown destination.

Frantic efforts to locate him hit the brick wall, as his abductors had demanded N50m naira ransom, and later reduced it to N20m. While church authorities rigidly stuck by their well-known stand of not succumbing to ransom, they were also making discreet contacts with the police to rescue him.

Unfortunately, few days later, the badly decomposing body of the priest was found somewhere in the bush by some locals who promptly alerted the church authorities.

The strange discovery raised many questions. which includes, could he have bled to death without assistance, or was he killed instantly by his abductors? However, it was a known fact that he was shot by the kidnappers before they disappeared with him.

His remains was however, recovered and committed to mother earth  immediately at the priest’s burial ground at the Holy Ghost Cathedral, Enugu.

At the funeral service, a very disappointed Catholic  Bishop of the Enugu Diocese, Most Rt, Rev. Dr. Callistus Onaga recalled how he personally visited the police in Enugu three times, asking for urgent action to rescue the cleric only for them to keep on telling him that they were “on top of the situation, and were closing in on the kidnappers.”

Alas, when the bubble burst, it was not even the police that recovered the body but the locals. So far, the police in Enugu have woefully failed to either round up his suspected killers or come up with concrete efforts geared towards arresting such situations.

Almost same period the late priest was abducted, the secretary of Uzo-Uwani council area of the state, Dr. Nnamdi Ogueche was also kidnapped and murdered by yet to be identified gunmen.  until his death, the council scribe, was also a lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe university Awka.

The father of three, was reportedly murdered at about 5pm by suspected Fulani herdsmen between Olo in Ezeagu Local government Area and Umulokpa in Uzo-Uwani LGA. He was on his way back to Enugu, after attending the peace meeting.

Only three weeks ago, the Head of Nursing Services at the federal Neuropsychiatric hospital Enugu, Dr. (Mrs) Maria Amadi was assassinated at the front of her residence in Enugu by unknown gunmen suspected to be hired assassins.

Just recently, a young girl, identified as Ngozi Eze, in Imfu community in Enugu Ezike , Igboeze North local government area of the state, who had gone for her UTME lesson was abducted and taken to a bush by unknown persons who raped her to death. Her lifeless body was discovered after the father, Mr. Jonathan Eze raised an alarm that his daughter Ngozi was missing.

While the dust raised by these gruesome murder is yet to settle, the state was thrown into another shock last Sunday, as a  popular Enugu Prophet, Mr. Anthony Nwoko, who hails from Umuahia Abia state, was assassinated by unknown persons at his apartment in Enugu.

The secretary of Rangers Inter. FC of Enugu, Barrister Ferdinand Emeka, escaped death by the whiskers, last week, when gunmen invaded his apartment in Enugu, carting away his car.

Without sounding immodest, residents of Enugu no longer sleep with two of their eyes closed as a result of the resurgence of alarming crime rate in the state, especially the metropolis.

However, the most disturbing aspect of the development is that up till now, the police has not been able to bring any of the suspects to book.

Going by this recent reoccurring  sad and unfortunate happenings in the state, there is urgent  need for the governor to rise up to the occasion as the chief security officer of the state, and involve the Army, to help man strategic flash point across the state, before the situation degenerates to what happened in Abia state few years ago, when the state was under siege by men of the underworld, particularly kidnappers.

For the state to truly enjoy the accolade of being among the most peaceful and safest states in Nigeria, the governor must take the bull by the horn by taking more proactive measures aimed at  stemming the tide.

 

 


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