By Ikeugonna Eleke
Anambra may be sliding back into the days of the reign of terror by both cultists and unknown gunmen. This is because, in just two days, gunmen, yet to be identified, struck in Onitsha and Awka, killing three policemen and two businessmen respectively.
Though the police in Anambra had said the incident in Onitsha claimed the life of just one policeman, eyewitnesses said three policemen were killed, while a patrol van used by the men was set ablaze.
Sources said two persons identified as civilians also sustained bullet wounds in the attack.
Fides gathered that the Onitsha attack which happened last Sunday, occurred at Ezeiweka Road in the commercial city, causing panic among the residents of the area.
A source said: ‘The policemen were at a checkpoint in the area where they always station their vehicle at the junction on daily basis, when the attack happened.
‘Some people say the policemen were interacting with some motorists, trying to extort money from them, without paying attention, when the gunmen struck.’
Also, the following Tuesday, two days after, gunmen suspected to be cultists killed two persons said to be businessmen in Awka.
Sources said the incident caused a stir in Awka as motorists and business owners in the area ran in all directions, while the gunmen simply drove off after killing the two men.
The incident was said to have happened along the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway by the gate of Udoka Housing Estate.
‘We don’t know who they are, but they just drove to the area, alighted and shot the two men without taking anything from them, a source said.
Meanwhile, about two weeks ago, unidentified gunmen had also attacked and killed the former traditional ruler of Mkpunando Community, Chief Alex Edozieuno, and his driver whose name was given as Chukwuemeka.
These incidents have left Anambra residents in fear over their safety, with many saying the incidents may have signaled the return of terror in Anambra.
Between October 2020 and May 2021, there have been what many described as a reign of terror in Anambra State, occasioned by the activities of cultists and unknown gunmen.
A day hardly passed in the period mentioned above without cultists killing their rivals in parts of the state, just as unidentified gunmen also attacked security operatives, killing them and dispossessing them of their weapons, as well as burning down their facilities.
A public affairs analyst, Mr Tony Uzor, in his reaction said, ‘We don’t know what is happening in Anambra any longer. The state had been quiet before now because of the introduction of an unorthodox security outfit named after the famous Bakassi Boys, but it seems like bad people are returning again, and we must call on the police to buckle up.’
Meanwhile, the first son of the slain Igwe Alex Edozieuno, former traditional ruler of Mkpunando, Prince Chinedu Edozieuno, has alleged being trailed by his father’s killers, claiming their plan was to eliminate him like they did to his father.
The young Edozieuno said he had been receiving threatening calls from anonymous persons since he started making frantic efforts to help the police find his father’s killers.
Prince Edozieuno, in a press release, Sunday, also said he was worried that more than one week after his father was assassinated, the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, who hailed from the same community and of the same age grade as his father, had not cared to know how the family fared after the incident.
‘Since I started reaching out to the police, following the assassination of my father, I have been trailed by unknown persons. This poses danger on my life. I also receive calls asking me to drop the case; even as some people I suspect to have a hand in the killing of my father jubilate openly.
‘As soon as news of my father’s assassination broke out, we heard that some people started celebrating. When I complained to the police, they asked me how sure I was that they had a hand in my father’s death.
‘I call on the Presidency, the Inspector-General of Police and security agencies, to come to my aid so that those who killed my father will not kill me also,’ Prince Edozieuno pleaded.
The Anambra State Police Command in their reaction to the series of attacks, both on their personnel and civilians, has insisted that efforts are being made to wipe out violent crimes in the state.
In his reaction to both the attack in Onitsha, where policemen were killed, and in Awka, where businessmen were also killed, the State Police Command’s spokesperson, DSP Toochukwu Ikenga, insisted that the police were on the trail of the killers.
In the event of the murder of Chief Edozieuno, the State Police Commissioner, CP Tony Olofu, who assumed duty on the same day, had rushed to the scene of the incident and also followed up with a visit to the family of the late former monarch, where he assured that the killers would be apprehended and brought to book.
As at the time of filing this report, no update on all the incidents had been provided by the police, just as citizens fear that solutions to the activities of violent criminals are far from being found.