In the early hours of last Monday, April 19, the people of Anambra State woke up to yet another piece of sad news of the attack on the Zone 13 headquarters of the Nigeria Police situated in Ukpo, Dunukofia Local Government Area of the state.
A building and some vehicles parked in the compound were burnt, while two policemen were reportedly wounded in the ensuing shootout, although speculations had it that they died. A press statement by the police signed by the Zone 13 image maker, DSP Nkeiruka Nwode, said one of the attackers was killed but the body recovered and taken away by the attackers.
She also stated in the press statement that the police recovered one General Purpose Machine Gun, GMPG, believed to have been snatched from victims of an earlier attack in Awkuzu.
The latest attack was coming at a time all the entrances and exits to and from the state police headquarters had been barricaded, as well as entrance to the Government House and Lodge in Awka.
The barricading of these places followed previous attacks on and killing of some police officers and officials of the state’s correctional centre by hoodlums, as well as an attack on and killing of the security aides of APGA guber aspirant, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, in Isuofia, Aguata LGA of Anambra State.
Ever since the attacks, the police had vanished from the roads and locations where they used to stay. The absence of the police on the roads has seemingly encouraged hoodlums to operate freely and fearlessly, especially in Onitsha and parts of Obosi, where these hoodlums reportedly smash vehicle windows with objects and force the drivers to part with their phones, money and other personal effects. That is how bad the situation has become.
Also cultists have seemingly overrun parts of the state, especially Awka, the state capital, killing one another regularly in retaliatory attacks. Only last weekend three people were gunned down in Awka in cult related incidents. While this goes on, robberies in commercial tricycles known as Keke, and shuttle buses have become pretty much regular.
Indeed, it is now a situation where the citizenry are left to their own devices in a state which a short while ago prided itself as the safest in the country. This is not good enough as the anarchic situation has lasted for so long.
One would have expected that by now the state government and the security agencies would have found solutions to the situation, but, instead, more attacks are being carried out and the cult war continues unabated.
The regularity of these attacks suggest that those saddled with securing life and property are not up to it. It also suggests that there was no contingency plan to deal with such a situation as the state has found itself. This is not what the people had bargained for.
The security agencies must reclaim the public space. Inasmuch as we appreciate the difficulty with which the police work, it wouldn’t do for them to vacate the public space for criminals as that is the fastest way of seeing the state collapse. And it seemed they are doing so as a special squad was seen last Thursday in Awka.
It is time force was met with force once and for all.