By Jude Atupulazi
Probably worried by criticisms against his government for not doing enough to fight the menace of market and motor park touts in the state, the Anambra State Government has launched the Anambra Special Anti-Touting Squad.
Indeed, criticisms had been mounting against the Government of Prof Chukwuma Soludo over his perceived poor handling and even encouragement of touting. Major markets, especially in Onitsha, and motor parks across the state.
But Soludo, last Monday, declared his government’s resolve to end the menace by launching the Anambra State Special Anti-Touting Squad at a ceremony at Upper Iweka, Onitsha. Upper Iweka is seen as the capital of touting in the state.
While launching the outfit, Soludo said the days of touts in the state were numbered and that a full blown war had been declared on them.
He maintained that in an environment where lawlessness had become a culture, bringing back law and order would be difficult.
Soludo congratulated members of the squad who had been found worthy and offered to serve, urging them to serve with commitment, passion and diligence; even as he also advised them to adhere to laid down standards and the code of conduct guiding their operation.
The Governor revealed that members of the Anti-touting Squad would collaborate with the Nigerian Armed Forces who, he said, had the primary responsibility to keep the state safe.
Governor Soludo pointed out that the launch of the squad was an acceleration on the key promise he made to the people living in the Greater Onitsha Area which consists of Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Ogbaru, Oyi, and Idemili, to restore Anambra State known for law and order back to its full glory as the Light of the Nation
He said when he assumed office, eight local governments had been taken over by criminals but that the combined efforts of the security agencies in the state had led to the liberation of those local governments and restoration of normalcy.
The Governor charged the citizens to always remember the campaign of seeing something and saying something.
‘We have told the youths to come out from their hideouts and the bush. We shall help to rehabilitate and integrate them into society to be useful to their families, communities, states, and nations.
‘While dealing with hoodlums on a larger scale, we will be dealing with touts in the Onitsha Greater Area and Anambra State as a whole.
‘We are fighting a war to bring back the soul of our society governed by law and order; not a society anyone does what he or she likes arbitrarily without recourse to law and order.
‘Touts disturb customers who come from every nook and cranny of the country. But this journey is to rescue Onitsha as a commercial hub and Anambra State in general,’ the Governor said.
Soludo disclosed that phone numbers would be made available to citizens of the state to inform the government of any touting activities they noticed in the area.
The Governor while warning all market chairmen, reiterated that any market where touts still operated henceforth would be disbanded and the chairmen removed from office; while charging each market chairman to take responsibility.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Homeland Affairs, Chief Chikodiri Anara, maintained that the launch of the Special Anti-Touting Squad was the start of the journey. He assured Governor Soludo that the men of the squad were well trained and by December, positive changes would be noticed.
He warned hoodlums causing trouble in the state to leave the state, as they would not find it comfortable to operate from now on.
The Commissioner for Information, Sir Paul Nwosu; Commissioner for Youth Development, Patrick Aghamba; Special Adviser on Security Matters, AVM Chiobi; Chief of Protocol, Chinedu Nwoye; President General of Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA), Chief Humphrey Anuna; members of the armed forces, among others, attended the event.