Gunmen operating in the South East, Nigeria appears determined to decimate military, paramilitary and police formations in the area with a view to completely create fear, intimidate and demobilise the security operatives.
Analysts have said that the aim is to demonstrate their competence and readiness for war, while others are of the view that it was to enable them have access to enough AK-47 rifles and other military hardware for endless kidnapping, bank robbery and other forms of criminal activities across the South-East geo-political zones.
Most Nigerians of Igbo extraction believe that the mayhem across the South East are allegedly sponsored just to make the area ungovernable and heap the blame on Eastern Security Network said to have been established by Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
In Ebonyi State, precisely from January 8 to March 1, 2021, at least three police officers were killed and about three police stations were either attacked or completely burnt down.
In Abia State, between February 1 and March, three police officers were killed and a police station burnt down, while in Imo State, two police officers were killed and two police stations burnt down.
Anambra State had its own fair share of the killings, just as the suspected Fulani herdsmen kidnapped five persons from different locations in eight communities of Ayamelum Local Government Area, Anambra State on March 12. One of the victims was the President-General of Omor community, Francis Onwuachu, who was eventually killed days later after a ransom was not paid.
Also in Anambra State on March 18, some police officers were killed in Neni, Anaocha Local Government Area at a checkpoint, while some soldiers were killed at an outpost in Awkuzu, Oyi Local Government Area, both of Anambra State.
The gunmen, who were responsible for the killings also reportedly set ablaze a police van in Neni, and carted away arms belonging to the late policemen, while in Awkuzu, the felled soldiers also lost their weapons to the attackers.
Again, gunmen attacked Ekwulobia Police Station in the state and killed another policeman and two officials of Nigeria Correctional Service, NCS. While the police station was attacked at about 4:30am, the two officials of NCS were killed at about 11am when the gunmen attacked a prison vehicle conveying some inmates to court.
In Imo State, the situation was more devastating as the gunmen overrun police facilities, Nigerian Correction Service and the military checkpoint at the Ukwuorji and Mgbidi along Owerri-Onitsha Express road it was alleged military officers yet to be identified lost their lives.
Worried by the activities of these daring gunmen, a notable media Consultant in Owerri, Onwuasoanya FCC Jones said, “before today, anyone would have been correct to think that the area where the command headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force and the prison headquarters is located, is the safest place anywhere in Imo State. And we actually have the Imo State Government House tucked in between these structures. But, we have been shocked into the realisation that, not even the governor is safe and even the Commissioner of Police could have been kidnapped.”
According to him, “it is time to explore new policing ideas. We must invest more in citizen-based policing, where the citizenry is convinced that the police are their friends, and are working hard to protect them. Where the citizenry has such confidence in the police that they could do anything to protect them. We must invest in new strategies of policing that would make it difficult for criminals to succeed in criminalising the police. We must invest more in intelligence-based policing.
“I am imagining the number of men that could have executed such a daring operation and the calibre and number of ammunition in their possession. If we have that number of angry and organised gangs somewhere in our own Southeast, then, we are indeed, in more trouble than anyone may imagine.
“With the success of this attack against our own police in their own headquarters, one wouldn’t blame those who might have concluded that we have a sleeping police force. These criminals planned their attacks to coincide with the Easter holiday and in the sweetest hours of the night, and they obviously caught our men napping. Moving in such number of vehicles from many kilometers till they entered Owerri and got into the police headquarters, without being intercepted should worry the Nigerian Police Force.”
Jones stated that this should be a wake-up call to our political leaders, too, insisting that the situation was a strong message sent out to everyone, that there are no impregnable fortresses, as long as Nigeria has a band of angry, hungry and frustrated youths.
“Not even the President is safe. The only way we can guarantee an enhanced level of safety for everyone, especially, those in power, is to drastically reduce the number of hungry, frustrated and deprived youths and citizens in our country, through deliberate implementation of policies that enhance economic opportunities of the citizenry, through reduction in the ostentatious living of our political elites and by ensuring higher transparency in the running of government business.
“Our politicians and top public servants cannot continue to rub their impunity and brazen corruption into our faces and expect that every youth would be as docile as many others to take such insults lying prostrate and celebrating the little crumbs that drop off our feet.
“An angry, dissatisfied, educated, intelligent and jobless band of youths, such as we have it in Nigeria, especially, in the East of the South of Nigeria, is a time bomb, that when it starts exploding, will make a child’s play of what is presently taking place across most parts of Nigeria, especially, in the Southeast.”
In a Saturday INDEPENDENT exclusive interview with the former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, he said that the boldness to which crime is being committed in today’s Nigeria is an indication that the government at all levels have failed Nigerians.
“It is not in doubt that President Muhammadu Buhari has mismanaged Nigeria thereby failing to deliver on the promise and in line with the provisions of the laws of the federation.”
According to Dr Ezeife, Nigeria has never been divided in this manner, leading to genocide and no day passes in Nigeria without gruesome murder of innocent citizens in their numbers due to lack of will power to get Nigeria working in the right direction.
Ezeife called for an emergency meeting of eminent Nigerians and elder statesmen with a view to commence emergency restructuring, but in the meantime he said, all endangered ethnic groups should stay back to their respective regions of origin while issues on how to manage the centre commence as a matter of urgency.
“We have failed Nigerians, the elders, youth and the government. Our conscience is dead. People can kill mindlessly. Some people said that the government is sponsoring this mayhem to make the South East ungovernable and tag IPOB a bad name. The statement credited to the former Inspector-General of Police that IPOB has no place to hide is also rather unfortunate.
“If we must survive the present Nigeria, the government must convene a meeting for emergent restructuring. All ethnic groups should stay back to their places of origin. We must go back to regional government and begin to discuss on what to do with the centre.
“The killings amount to failure on the side of Buhari. He has mismanaged Nigeria as a tribalist. Nigeria has never been bad and divided like this. He should as matter of urgency engage eminent Nigerians made up youths, elder statesmen from states and regions for a national dialogue.”
Speaking with the Programmes Director of Development Dynamics for the people’s right and against hunger, Dr Jude Ohanele, he wondered the possibilities of attacks at police headquarters without immediate retaliation by the police, just as he described the situation where there are no casualties as suspect and an indication of the enemy within.
He called on the United Nations to send representatives and keep watch on the activities of the Federal authorities and states within the South East.
He further affirmed that the former IGP’s comments were hasty, and fingering IPOB as being responsible for the mayhem in Owerri is an indication that they have admitted that these separatists have superior strategies and more equipped to lunch successful attacks.
“If police cannot protect its headquarters, then something is fundamentally wrong with the system. It is time the Federal government concedes to the secession agitators.
“How can such a thing happen and we are not talking about casualties on both sides. It was carefully planned by the perpetrators and for the fact that there was no challenge, it means that the real enemies are within. The situation calls for questioning. It means that police were not on guard from the entrance gate to the main building, leading to the release of suspects.
“I cannot believe that IPOB was responsible for the attacks. They don’t have this kind of facilities to manage this kind of attack. It is a case of enemy within. I am not at home with any allegation that IPOB was responsible for the mayhem.
“The attackers want to make the South East ungovernable and blame it on IPOB. We call on UN to send a special rapporteur. UN should send representatives before things get worst for the South East. We have never been as bad as this.
“Somalia will be better than Nigeria if something urgent didn’t happen. Any revolution like #EndSARS will be very deadly. What happened during #EndSARS will be a child’s play.”
The Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province Most Rev Emmanuel Chukwuma bluntly stated that President Muhammadu Buhari has failed since he appears not to be in charge anything in Nigeria.
Chukwuma, who is also the Chairman of South-East/ South-South Bishops urged Igbo Governors to recognise IPOB and remodel the outfit, just as he called for the rejection of police commissioners of Northern extraction.
“It boils down to my agitation and agitation of our people that the only persons who can secure the South East are the Igbo security chiefs from the South East States. If the Commissioner of Police comes from the North, the head of other security agencies come from the North, the man in-charge of the border also comes from North, the Area Commander is of the Northern extraction, the DPO is from the North, the implication is that we are all not secured.
“Therefore, I have told the South-East Governors to embrace IPOB and remodel them for the good of the people of the South East and resist the posting of security heads of Northern extraction to the South-East because they will compromise. I have told the Igbo youths to be getting ready and fully prepared and mobilise themselves.
“We are already mobilising the Communities for effective vigilance. We have told the communities to comb the forests and fish out these Northern criminals in the bush. If it means fight or violence of any kind, so be it as long as we are defending ourselves, properties and our lands.
“Buhari has failed because he is no longer in charge of anything in this country. His continued stay in office is an embarrassment to the people of Nigeria. Way out of worsening security issues in the South East I repeat is to reject any Northerner as commissioner of police. They are not helping out at all. Senate President is the worst ever produced, Buhari is the worst. Anything can happen any moment from now, I see revolution coming but it may be very destructive in nature.”