Umunze is a sprawling community in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State. It is situated on the outskirts of the state and also shares borders with Isuochi in Abia State and Arondizuogu in Imo State. Even Ebonyi State can be accessed through Isuochi.
It is however, the community's peculiar location that is believed to be one of the reasons why the area has become a safe haven for all manner of criminals, especially armed robbers. Another reason adduced to the high crime rate in the community is the tension generated by the leadership crisis which has been on a caretaker basis for years now.
As a result of a combination of both factors, criminal activities have gone on unchecked in the town and its environs, with some of the suspected perpetrators still walking the streets unchallenged.
Some of the high profile crimes in the area include the shooting to death of six police men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) during a bank robbery, a dare-devil robbery involving three banks, the killing of the public relations officer of the Federal College of Education (Tech) Umunze, occasional discovery of dead bodies in an isolated hotel in Umunze near the Federal College, and the recent shooting of the chief security officer of the college.
To underline the fancy criminals have taken to the area, one of the state's most notorious criminals was caught in that axis. To add to this, were the discoveries made in a stop and search operation once launched by the police in the area. In that operation, arms were discovered hidden underneath one commercial tri-cycle or keke, as well as from one commercial motor-cyclist known as okada. These discoveries indicated the existence of a criminal cartel in the area.
However, the worrisome aspect of the situation in Umunze is the fact that most of the suspected criminals are known and nothing is being done to apprehend them. This is a development that indicts the community and cuts a picture of a people who are not ready to cooperate with the police.
But whatever may be the reason for the loose security situation in Umunze and environs, the Anambra State Government of Dr Willie Obiano is urged to intervene and sanitize the murky situation, lest it makes a nonsense of the state's rising profile as one of the most peaceful states in the country.
The government should begin by looking into the leadership crisis in the community and work towards resolving it as the leadership lacuna appears to have aggravated the security situation there.
The next step will be to order full scale investigations by the police into the criminal activities in the area and fish out the lynch pins. This will ensure that those dependent on them will scatter.
This should be followed by better policing of the borders as some of the dare-devil robberies have been traced to those coming from neighbouring states. This was the case in the robbery that involved three banks a couple of years ago.
There is no doubt that the Umunze situation is the worst now in the state. It is a development that will not cover the state in glory. Also, there is need to protect the federal institution there whose staff and students have been victims of the carnage.
In an era when there is a clamour for more federal government presence in the state, allowing the college situated there to be a target of hoodlums will defeat the purpose.
We therefore call on the government of Obiano and the state police command to rescue the situation immediately and save the people of the area from further nightmarish experiences.