Last Sunday in Onitsha, the commercial hub of Anambra State, a police man was gunned down by unknown gunmen in front of Assemblies of God Church in Oguta Road. The said gunmen later shot and killed a commercial motorcyclist in the same city as they made good their escape. A statement from the State Police Command later said the police apprehended one of the gunmen.
The latest incident in Onitsha is one among a worryingly growing list of high profile killing of police officers in the commercial enclave. Fides gathered that within the past three months or thereabouts, four police men have been shot and killed by criminals, with two dying at TRACAS area and a further two at Nkpor Junction, aside from the one killed last Sunday.
A story was also told of a police man whose gun was snatched while about to drink beer at a pub while on duty. In the same city have also come stories of snatching of infants from their mothers by people operating on motorcycles.
Before now, there have been many cases of robberies by same people on motorbikes. They usually isolate their victims and rob them of their personal belongings at gun point in streets. All these point to the need for redoubling of efforts by the security agencies, especially as the state is on the cusp of a major election.
But we are very worried at the growing spate of crime in Onitsha. Being the commercial and business hub of the state, it generates much of the revenue needed in oiling the machinery of government. It presupposes that allowing criminality to overwhelm the city will hamper the development of the state, as well as scaring investors away.
We have however noticed that despite the many police personnel on the roads, these crimes have continue to be perpetrated. We have also noticed that the police officers deployed to the roads are more interested in stuffing their pockets with money than in doing the job they were detailed to do. Accidents have also often been caused when police officers stop vehicles just to extort money despite past prohibition of such by the police authorities.
It is clear that when the police dwell on extorting money, they lose their vigilance and become easy targets for criminals who shoot at them or snatch their guns for future operations.
We are therefore calling on the Anambra State Police Command to put a halt to this and galvanize their officers into action. All known danger spots should be effectively manned or patrolled by the police, not just in Onitsha, but throughout the state. It is disturbing to hear about these untoward developments in a state that prides herself as the safest in the country.
The Anambra State Government has invested much in the police and the least the police can do is to show results by proactive policing.
This is the task before the new commissioner of police in Anambra State.