That Anambra State is today one of the safest states in Nigeria is no longer news. This situation was brought about by the conscious efforts made by the Willie Obiano-led administration to check the menace of criminals in the state.
For long, the state had basked in the euphoria of diminished crime to the extent that investors and individuals who ran away in the thick of the menace of criminals have started returning.
However in the past few weeks, a disturbing trend of what looks like an upsurge in crime, has reared its head, with the climax coming in the shooting of two policemen in Onitsha last week by suspected armed robbers. The shooting capped a bloody month which also saw similar incidents.
The recent history of the state shows that crime increases any time a major election is at the corner. Such crimes include armed robbery and kidnapping. Why this is the case is what we cannot readily tell.
However, we expect the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to really dig into this matter with a view to finding the correlation between increased criminal activities and elections.
It is possible, and perhaps natural, that the law enforcement agencies have been lulled into decreased alertness by the long period of peace in the state, a situation that criminals now seem to be exploiting.
This is exacerbated when the law enforcement agencies begin to be reactive, rather than proactive in crime fighting. No matter the situation, it is expected that those saddled with the responsibility of maintaining the peace remain focused and alert at all times to forestall any activity of criminal elements.
We are therefore calling on the police and allied agencies to sit up if they have not and ensure that the peace the state has enjoyed for a long time now is sustained.
The police vehicles donated to the police and other agencies by the state government are not for any other thing but to fight crime. Patrol vehicles should be patrolling rather than being parked at designated places.
The police should embark on the monitoring of flash points across the state, as well as stationing their officers at border points in the state. These robbers and kidnappers often come in from neighbouring states to commit their dastardly acts and then dash back to where they came from. A close monitoring of the border areas will therefore ensure that even if they manage to sneak in, they will not be able to leave the state.
The police and sister agencies can achieve this if they remain focused on their duties and refrain from targeting road users for extortion of money. When they do this, they become easy targets for the criminals.
Members of the public are also enjoined to help the law enforcement agencies by giving information. If every neighbourhood remains vigilant and monitor strange elements, the job of the police and others becomes easier. The job of security is for everybody.
If the state were to go by her recent history in which criminal activities increase in the period of elections, then the law enforcement agencies have to do more by being proactive.
The peace enjoyed by the state must be maintained at all costs.