Although kidnapping and sundry crimes seem to gradually be returning to Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, the state government is not resting on its oars and has effectively mobilized battle-ready security agencies who have vowed to take them on and keep such criminal elements on a standstill. Chidi Asonye reports for The Authority…
The occupants of a Toyota Highlander were caught in the euphoria of their evening enjoyment around the street corners that they were unaware of a Honda Accord saloon car that was steaming beside the jeep.
In a blinking of an eye, just as the driver was negotiating to wheel back to the road, two armed men appeared from both sides of the jeep already blocked behind by the other vehicle. One of the gunmen pulled down the driver who he shoved aside roughly and took over the steering and zoomed off, with the other vehicle escorting behind it. The unknown gunmen were kidnappers, and the occupants of the jeep has just been kidnapped.
The above scenario is recurrent in Abia State and Aba in particular during the administration of former Abia State governor, Chief Theodore Orji that the commercial nerve centre, sooner than later became a shadow of itself as most business people in the city were forced to relocate, wherever they may find a secured environment for their lives and businesses; and the business potentials of the city had to pass through the eye of the needle thus metamorphosing into economic nosedive that took a deadly toll on the development of the economic hub of the state.
Although the twin crimes of armed robbery and kidnapping was curtailed considerably with the coming of the soldiers, but the perpetrators of the heinous crimes who chose to be called militants, had wrecked so much havoc in a city with the attendant negative impact of winding up industries, to the detriment of both the workforce as well as the revenue accrual to the state.
There were several criminal kingpins ravaging the city and they operated as though they owned the world. They harass the living dead out of Aba residents and extort money from anyone they wanted to. In fact, they were the lord of manor and none dare challenge them.
One of such character, Osisikankwu accepted to share his ‘bravado’ with this reporter, but never did as he was killed even before the scheduled interview date. Similarly, ‘Last Don’ and his splinter group at Ugwuati in Ukwa, told this reporter that they had to go into kidnapping because it would spell doom for their people from the oil communities in Ukwa if they destroy oil installations there.
The other splinter group led by ‘The Don’ at Obingwa had also told this reporter also that their grievances were aggravated by the closure of almost all the industries located around the commercial city, beginning with the paint industries, to household and textile manufacturing plants, especially the International Equitable Industries Ltd, as well as the Aba Textile Mills Ltd, among others.
Stakeholders who had deliberated on the best way to handle the issue which went haywire at the Michael Okpara Auditorium in Umuahia had tasked government to properly fashion out ways of solving some of these problems, especially the issue of militancy, most of who have operated in Rivers Stare before the amnesty programme of President Umaru Yar’adua excluded them, so that the state will have a lasting peace.
The presence of the military formations within and around the city really helped a lot to restore hope to both residents as well as visitors, most of who had lost hope of restoring peace in the city. However, experts have also warned that the serene environment which had once again returned to the state may not last long because of the abrupt abortion of the amnesty programme the state government had started then.
“In fact, kidnapping which is like terrorism, can hardly leave this environment, especially with the amnesty failing just because Osisikankwu’s splinter group went contrary to the agreement with government. The resultant consequences might result in gorilla type of attacks. And this may take a long time to quell”.
Since that time up till now, the skeletal activities of these notorious gangs have continued to reverberate from within and around the city. However, our investigations revealed that the pockets of abductions in the city have moved up the scale and it has given the current administration in the state sleepless nights.
“You can’t imagine the efforts the governor is putting to really get this city into economic relevance in the international market. It worries us that this ugly trend want to get its head above the waters once more at this time Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu is doing everything possible to restore the Enyimba city and attract investors. I know he is not sleeping and that he will know how to effectively handle this, at this time,” Ugoeze Joy Alozie had told The Authority on Sunday in Aba.
in trying to practicalise his resolve to get to the roots of the matter, Governor Ikpeazu recently donated over 20 patrol vans to the Nigeria Police and informed the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase that the problem of kidnapping was peaking up gradually and was becoming unbearable and urged him to step up action in securing lives and property in the state.
Gov. Ikpeazu equally stated that his administration is desirous to reducing violent crimes to the barest minimum, adding that although there were cases of kidnapping and sundry violent crimes in the state, the state government was working round the clock to reduce the incidences across the state.
The governor equally appreciated the contributions of the police in containing crimes alongside other security agencies, even as he posited that due to the location the state and its position as a business hub, a lot of criminally-minded people could easily sneak into the state making it prone to crime, but assured that efforts were being made to keep the state boundaries safe for investors.
He had commended the Commissioner of Police, in the state, the military and service commanders for their efforts at keeping crime rate at bay just as he promised to continue to assist and provide logistics to the police from time to time.
He also disclosed that the patrol vehicles donated to the police were to assist them wedge proper war against crimes in the state, stressing that the target was to ensure there is police presence at every major junction in cities across the state, adding that the vehicles handed over to them were affixed with communication gadgets.
The IGP who was on a working visit to the state thanked the Gov. Ikpeazu for his assistance to the police, maintaining that most of the basic needs required to fight crimes cannot be met by the federal government alone but could be ameliorated through the assistance of state governments, companies and other bodies. He emphaised that the socio-economic development of the country and the state in particular, could only thrive in an environment that is secure and appreciated the tolerable security situation in the state.
Meanwhile, in a bid to effectively check the upsurge of kidnapping as well as other violent crimes in the commercial city of Aba, soldiers and policemen have embarked on joint patrols in all parts of the city. Other security agencies involved in the joint patrol includes the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), and the Abia State Vigilance Services (AVS) and according to our findings, the joint patrol team nicknamed “Operation Show of Force”, would be a daily operation in the city and its environs.
Recall that the 14 Brigade, Ohafia recently concluded plans to relocate its tactical headquarters to Aba to assist in arresting incidences of kidnappings which appeared to be gradually returning to the city so as to avoid its taking negative toll on the economic activities in the city.
Parts of the city which have witnessed heavy deployment of soldiers and policemen in recent weeks include Port Harcourt road, Mosque Street, Azikiwe and Ariaria end of Faulks Road.