Abia is among states in the southeast geographical zone of Nigeria that are being ravaged by the unknown gunmen, with attacks on security formations and federal assets.
There is no doubt that the heinous attacks by the unknown gunmen in Abia State had so far claimed many lives, particularly that of the security agents.
It has recorded cases of attacks ranging from burning down of the Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) office situated at Umuagu Umuahia, Uzuakoli Divisional Police station, Nigerian Immigration Service office, Ubakala and Ubakala Police station in Umuahia South Local government area of the State.
Irked by the serial attacks on its formations across the states of the southeast region, the Nigeria Police High Command had accused the members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the security outfit of the proscribed Indigeneous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu of the attack on its facilities. Amid the notion that the Eastern Security Network, ESN, was established to attack security operatives and formations, Kanu insisted that the group had not been involved in any criminal activity.
Recall that Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, on December 13, launched the ESN security outfit due to the rising insecurity in the region. According to Kanu, ESN was established to defend the people of the Eastern region from terrorists and bandits allegedly trooping in from the North. He further insisted that the ESN was only established against herdsmen militias. According to him, operatives of the security outfit are too disciplined to be involved in criminal activities.
He said, “I have said it before but let me say it again that the Eastern Security Network I command is strictly organized to deal with terrorist herdsmen in our land. ESN is a highly disciplined group of volunteers that do not engage in any act of criminality or terror”.
Peeved by the activities of the unknown gunmen, which had taken dangerous dimension in the state, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu imposed curfew in major cities of Abia State as part of his government’s proactive measures to curtail further attacks on security personnel by the yet to be known armed men. Ikpeazu vowed to make Abia unsafe for criminal elements, warning criminal elements to desist from acts capable of truncating the peace and security of the state. He described it as a whirlwind that will blow no one good.
Following the spate of attacks by the unknown gunmen, residents of the Abia state were thrown into fear, with many deserting and scampering from being hit by stray bullets as a result of the confrontation between men of Nigeria security agencies and the dreaded gunmen. However, a critical assessment of the general security situation in Abia state as carried out by DAILY POST on Tuesday, showed that normalcy had returned to the state as residents have continued to attend their businesses in parts of the State.
But, as part of its measures to curb the dastardly acts of the unknown gunmen on its facilities, the Abia State Police Command has restricted the movement of vehicles around its formations in Umuahia and Aba. A tour embarked upon by our correspondent revealed that there was blockage of a lane of the dualized Bende Road in Umuahia capital city where the headquarters of the State Police Command and Central Police Station are situated. Also, a lane of the dualized Aba road in Umuahia town where the main offices of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) are situated were equally blocked to forestall further attacks on security facilities and federal assets in the state by yet-to-be-identified gunmen.
In Aba, DAILY POST gathered that normalcy has equally returned after police stopped some hoodlums who planned to carry out mob action on personnel in the city.
Aba is one of Nigeria’s commercial hubs after Lagos and Onitsha.
In response to the wicked attacks on police formations by the unknown gunmen in Aba, our correspondent gathered that the State Police Command blocked all the access roads to the Central Police Station (CPS) as a precautionary measure to repel any attack. Aside from the blockage of the access roads to the Central Police Station (CPS) at Azikiwe Road in Aba, different teams of security agencies ranging from the police, army and Defence Corps were seen battle ready, patrolling the major streets of the commercial nerve centre (Aba).
The security agencies were equally spotted manning different strategic locations within and outside Aba, ensuring the safety of lives and properties of the residents and visitors to the commercial city.
Meanwhile, DAILY POST trip to the cities of Umuahia and Aba revealed that residents are crying out on alleged harassment by men of the Nigeria security agencies manning the areas.
The Abia residents were also dissatisfied with the rules of engagement of the security agents in quelling the violent and criminal attacks in the state.
They cried out that the men in khaki uniform, whose responsibility is to secure lives and properties had resorted to unwholesome acts whereby the residents of Umuahia and Aba are being made to raise their hands at every security checkpoints while walking on the roads. Another unwholesome act of the security operatives as claimed by the residents of the areas included beating of young persons, especially the boys with plated dreadlock hairs. They are either being made to swim flooded dirty water on the roadside or beaten mercilessly, and later would allow the victim to go home in severe pain.
In a chat with DAILY POST on Tuesday, an Aba resident, David Nwaogboso decried the unbearable inhuman treatments being meted to the innocent populace in the town by the security agents under the guise of hunting hoodlums ravaging Abia.
Nwaogboso stated that the security operatives had abandoned their main objective of securing the citizenry from internal and external attacks, urging the government and heads of security agencies to review the mode of operations of their personnel in the current fight against unknown gunmen attacks.
On his part, Samuel Aguiyi, a quantity surveyor and resident of Umuahia capital city, lamented that the unholy activities of some disgruntled security agents had left many in fears as the security officers had deliberately resorted to manhandling innocent people on a mere and false suspicion of being criminals.
He called on the government at all levels to map out a well defined and everlasting template on which her security agencies should rely upon in achieving an end to the myriads of challenges emanating from unknown gunmen attacks in Abia, southeast and the country as a whole.
Mr. Aguiyi further used the medium in calling on aggrieved parties and separatist agitators, including the gunmen ravaging the state and southeast to sheathe their swords and embrace dialogue for a peaceful resolution in the overall interests of the people and Nigeria.
Amid the earlier outbursts by the Nigerian government and her security agencies accusing the proscribed Indigeneous People of Biafra led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu of instigating the attacks on security formations and federal assets in the southeast region, our correspondent who visited Afaraukwu Ibeku clan, the hometown of the IPOB Leader situated in Umuahia North LGA, gathered that there was total calm in and outside Nnamdi Kanu’s residence in Afaraukwu community, as people were seen going about their various businesses without harassment by the security forces who have been on the trail of members of IPOB-backed Eastern Security Network ESN.
In the same development, the Commissioner of Information in Abia State, Chief John Okiyi Kalu has reiterated the total commitment of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu led administration on the security of lives and property of the citizens of the State.
Okiyi Kalu maintained that the state government had already taken efficient and drastic steps, which included imposition of curfew in major cities of Abia, and as well as provision of necessary logistics to the security agencies in the State to combat the disastrous menace of the unknown armed men.
The Information Commissioner, who spoke during a private radio interactive programme monitored by DAILY POST on Monday, in Umuahia, warned criminal elements to desist from such arsonist acts or leave the State, as the government and its security agents were determined and on ground to make Abia unsafe haven for bandits, kidnappers, killer herdsmen and unknown gunmen causing havoc in the State and the southeast as a whole.