After the violence that followed the peaceful #EndSARS protest, residents of Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria, have called on the police to return to work to check the increase in crime.
Some residents told HumAngle that there had been a rise in armed robbery, cultism and kidnapping in the state following the absence of the police in the streets.
Hoodlums who hijacked the protest in the state killed four police officers and men and burnt down 11 police stations and destroyed 20 operational vehicles, an Armoured Personnel Carrier, according to the Police Command in Anambra.
John Abang, the Commissioner of Police in Anambra, at a post-crisis assessment, said the morale of police personnel in the state was low as a result of attacks on the institution.
Abang said that some policemen were still living in fear of being attacked by hoodlums, who carted away arms and ammunition during the attacks and were still targeting members of the Nigeria Police Force.
HumAngle learnt that there had been about four cases of cultism related killings in Awka, the Anambra State capital, since the post-#EndSARS protest crisis.
Jude Okoye, a resident of Awka, said some of the killings which involved tricycle operators took place at Unizik Junction, Amachalla, Amaenyi and Umukwa areas of the town.
Okoye said suspected cultists operated freely in broad daylight knowing full well that the police were off the streets.
“In my area, bad boys now operate freely, robbing even in daylight,” he said.
On October 28, 2020, a female lecturer at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Prof. Silvia Okonkwo, was allegedly kidnapped by gunmen along Enugwu-Agidi/Nawgu Road in Dunukofia Local Government Area, HumAngle learnt.
Okonkwo was said to be on her way home after a meeting of the University Senate.
Ndubuisi Obijiofor, the President-General of Enugwu-Agidi Town Union, who announced the kidnap, said that was the second time such an incident occurred in the area and advised people against using the route after 6.30 pm.
Obijiofor said Okoronkwo was released on October 29 through the timely intervention of security agencies and called on the public to be vigilant as the aftermath of the recent protest would have a lot of security implications.
Haruna Mohammed, a Superintendent of Police and the Police Public Relations Officer in Anambra State, said the matter was not officially reported but that the Commissioner of Police had ordered an investigation into the matter.
On Sunday, November 1, some residents of Okpuno in Awka, were attacked by a criminal gang operating in a tricycle who dispossessed them of bags, phones and cash, Mohammed said, adding that two suspects had been arrested in relation to the crime.
Nnamdi Offor, a resident said there had been an increase in cult and armed robbery attacks because of the absence of the police in the streets.
Offor expressed fear that arms stolen by hoodlums could be used to unleash terror on the people and called for more efforts for the recovery of the stolen weapons.
“I am afraid that this Christmas and New Year will be risky for those coming to town to celebrate because there are many guns in the hands of criminals and policemen are not fully back to work,” he said.
However, the Police Command in Anambra State has assured residents of their security and advised them to go about their lawful businesses as the police planned to conduct robust patrols to effectively check crime.
Abang said an aggressive deployment of police operatives as well as aerial surveillance, patrols and traffic control had started in the state.
He also identified black spots that would get special attention during the yuletide, including Nkpor Roundabout, Upper Iweka axis and other areas within Idemili North Local Government Area.
Others are Owerri road in Onitsha town, Enugu Agidi road, Nnobi Junction and Ifite Okpuno in Awka.
“I want to reassure the public that the law enforcement agencies will continue to collaborate and ensure safety and security of all citizens before, during and after the Christmas and New Year celebrations,” the Police Commissioner said.
HumAngle reports that while the regular police checkpoints are absent, combined teams of security personnel, comprising the Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Army, National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency and Nigerian Immigration Service conducted patrols across the state.
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