“We used to live in constant fear of insecurity because criminals operated freely any time of the day. They snatched handbags and cell phones from people passing without fear,” said Ifeanyi Uzegu, a bar operator at Nkpor Junction in Idemili North Local Government of Anambra, Southeast Nigeria after policemen withdrew from their duty posts due to the violent aftermath of the #ENDSARS protest.
“For those of us who trade here, it was like a war zone,” Uzegu said.
“We were always ready to run because they struck any time of the day and once it was 5:30 pm we began to close our shops and by 6:30 the entire place was deserted.”
Attacks on police stations and deaths of about four police personnel during the violence that followed the #EndSARS protest resulted in the withdrawal of security services by policemen for about three weeks in the state.
Uzegu said his business suffered during the period as most businesses which enjoy high patronage in the evening no longer operate at that time for fear of criminal attacks.
“I used to sell more than 20 cartons of beer a day but now I struggle to sell one carton because nobody felt safe to relax,” he said.
“What happed was unfortunate, they said it ended SARS but they ended up burning police stations and killing some of them, we don’t pray for a repeat of such thing again.”
Now, like many other residents, Uzegu is happy that the police are back on duty. “We pray that now they are back, security will return,” he said.
Felicia Nnakwe a trader at Afor Nkpor market said it was a time when there was no form of security and lawlessness took the centre stage in Anambra State.
For her, spending a whole day without the sight of a policeman was enough threat in itself “as everyone views each other with suspicion”.
“The police are very useful to us and any society without security is highly vulnerable, so I beg the police to forgive whatever people must have dons to them and return to normal work as they have done,” Nnakwe said.
Professor Charles Nwadigwe, another resident said the presence of a policeman on the road was a reassuring development as there had been cases of robbery and kidnaps of travellers since the security operatives retreated.
Nwadigwe who teaches in the Theatre and Films Department of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka singled out the Ukwulu-Nawgu-Enugwu Agidi road as a lonely road which required regular patrol because of inherent dangers.
He described the recent attacks on the police as unfortunate which he said must be seen as one of the hazards of the job just like other professions.
“Seeing the security presence of security men is reassuring, it will go along way to boosting the confidence of motorists that there is reasonable safety so we are very happy about it,” he said.
“This road is usually so lonely and we have had incidences of kidnap and other forms of criminal activity here, we expect that police will do their work which is maintaining security and also be the friend of the masses.”
“I encourage the police to see some of what happened as some of the hazards of the job, just like other profession policing has its own hazard’s.”
HumAngle reports that policemen are back to regular patrol with checks at reasonable intervals within the cities.
Mohammed Haruna, a Superintendent of Police and Public Relations Officer of the Police in the state said campaigns are on to build public confidence and assure them to go about their normal duties.
Haruna who spoke on behalf of John Abang, the state Commissioner of Police said that personnel were back with renewed vigour and high morale.
He urged people across Nigeria who had businesses or need to visit Anambra to do so without any fear adding that Police were back to space for the protection of lives and property.
“I want to say that Anambra is safe, the Police Command has commenced aggressive confidence building and awareness campaign to assure the citizens and visitors of their protection and security, especially during this ember period.
“The aim of the spot assessment visit is to build public confidence and reassure them that Police has occupied the public space and operations have resumed fully in Anambra State.
“This will further serve as deterrence and send a strong message to the misguided elements that it would not be business as usual and that the Command will deny them any opportunity to perpetrate crime in the state,” he said.
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