By Elizabeth Chukwuma
The crisis in South east state of Anambra, is taking a turn for the worse. This is because gunmen, alleged to be members of the Independent People of Biafra, IPOD, whose leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is currently in Department of State service, DSS, custody in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory,FCT.
A school of thought believe that the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram and the Islamic State of West Africa, ISWAP, operating in the north eastern states of Borno and Yobe, and their Bandits Group counterpart operating in the northern geopolitical region stataes of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, President Muhammau Buhari , home state and the north central state of Niger, who may have left these northern states through the grazing route to the south east to cause havoc.
Tochukwu Ikenga, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, and the Anambra state Police Command spokesperson had confirmed the attack on the soldiers patrol vehicle but could not out the actual number of soldiers killed in the ambush. Indeed, laying of ambush against soldiers by Insurgents and Bandits has beecome more noticeable in Borno, Niger, Kaduna, Katsina and FT, in the recent time.
While Kitack Lim,Secretary General, International Maritime Organisation, IMO, on Wednesday, September 28, 2022, had mobilised member nations of the United Nations, UN, maritime agency, to celebrate the World Maritime Day, soldiers who were on a routine patrol at Umunze, one of the flash point communities in Orumba South Local government Area, in the south east of Anambra, were ambushed and killed to test the will of the Nigerian soldiers.
The news making the rounds was that five soldiers and a civilian were killed in the ambush by the gunmen along the Umunze – Umunneochi road. The civilian may have been hit by a strait bullet. Tochukwu Ikenga, a Deputy Superintendent of Police and the Anambra state Police Command, spokesperson, could not confirm the number of soldiers who were killed in the attack by the gunmen.
The victims, were said to be driving in a Toyota Sienna vehicle when they played into the hands of the suspected gunmen , who were said to be hiding opposite a Zenith bank branch and opened opened fire on them, thus causing pandemonium, in the community, as people ran helter- skelter to save their lives . The gunmen target may have been the soldiers as target. This is because residents had said that there was no shooting near the Zenith Bank branch. The sporadic shooting in the Umunze Community may have forced the Banks and shops that were opened for business to close down to avoid been robbed by the hoodlums.
An eyewitness account disclosed that for the intervention of Echeng aecheng, the state Commissioner of Police, described as a field man, saved the situation from degenerating.He was said to have deployed fierce looking policemen to the Anambra Community to secure the Bank and its environs, in the Umunze community.
Many believe that discreet investigations of the Umunze killing will lead the security operatives to the Bandits hideouts. There are indications that most times the criminals operating at Umunze or any other Anambra flash point Communities are not from such communities where the crimes were committed.
The Umunze gunmen attack on the soldiers carrying out their legitimate duties was said to have come barely 24 hours after a similar attack in the neighbouring state of Enugu, where Ieanyi Ugwuanyi, the state governor, have threatened fire and brime stone to fish out the hoodlums.
Given that Chukwuma Soludo, a former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and now governor of Anambra, state is not ready to allow the criminal elements in the state, to turn it to another theatre of war as obtained in the north western state states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna and Niger, home state of Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and former Nigerian military President, may have informed why he has condemned the Killing of the soldiers at Umunze in its entirety.
The Anambra state governor was said to have vowed that ‘’the perpetrators of this dastardly act must pay for it’’. He was said to have told those that cares to listen that the security agencies personnel will not rest on their oars, until the hoodlums who had attacked and killed the soldiers on patrol of Umunze Community including those who had attacked Ifeanyi Ubah, a Senator off Federal Republic of Nigeria, were arrested and prosecuted in the Court of Law.
An aggrieved Soludo had said that ‘’there will be absolutely no hiding place for the criminal elements any longer in the state’’. The former CBN governor, turned politician, had said that the state government actions in the next couple of months will show what it plans to do ‘’as the hoodlums must surely pay for this heinous and repulsive attack’’. As a prelude to arresting the hoodlums, he has urged Anambra residents ‘’to remain calm and law-abiding as the security agencies are on top of the situation’’.
Last July, 30 soldiers, seven mobile policemen and two civilians were said to have been killed by Bandits who had laid an ambush for them on their way to a mining site in Shiroro, headquarters of in Shiroro Local government Area of Niger state in response to a distress call. The brutal murder of the soldiers and mobile policemen had thrown the nation into mourning.
While Nigerians are yet to overcome the grief caused by the killing of 30 soldiers and seven mobile police, including two civilians in Shiroro, Niger state, the armed Bandits also laid an ambush on the Presidential Guards Brigade, which is responsible for protecting the Nigerian President.
The soldiers who were on their way to the Nigeria Law School, Bwari, outskirts of the FCT, to respond to a distress call, but ambushed and attacked by the Bandits killing four of them.
Notwithstanding, the continuous ambush and killing of Soldiers in different parts of the country, Lt. General Farouk Yahaya, the Chief of Army Staff, CoAS, had said that they are not deterred as the hoodlums who have been laying ambushing soldiers on patrol would surely pay for it . The Katsina state born Nigeria President had describe such attacks and killing of soldiers by gunmen ‘’as a direct assault on Nigeria’’.
Mike Ejiofor, a former DSS, Director, had said that the only way to contain the activities of the non- state actors is for the Nigerian President to give approval , in his capacity as the Commander-In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces , C-In-C, and Chairman of Nigeria Security Council, NSC, to allow state owned security outfits like Amotekun, Ebubeagu, Benue Guards and the Private Security Guards deployed to the Banks to carry AK 447 guns to be able to match up with assault rifles of the non –staet actors. He had said that they would be able to contain the activities of the Terrorists and Bandits Group , across the country because they are on ground relating with the people on a daily basis more than the regular police
Worried by the high level of insecurity across the country, particular, in northern Nigeria, may have informed , why the governors and Traditional Rulers from the region have made case for the establishment of state police to tackle the increasing criminal activities in their various states. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos state and is counterparts , in in Ondo, Benue Ogun , Nassarawa , including the governor of the fie south eat states have consistently shouted to the open havens for establishment of state police but Buhari, had repeatedly turned it down , for fear of balkanization of the country.
The worry of many had been that he state governors donate vehicles and other security equipment worth billions of naira yearly to their various state Police Commands, when the Commissioners of Police deployed to the state take instructions from the Inspector General of Police, IGP, who in turn instructions fromthe President and not the governor of their respective hosting states. ‘’it makes no sense’’, a security expert had said.