By Tony Ezike
The facts are unassailable that the need to beef up security operations in Anambra State, especially within the Awka capital territory has become expedient following series of attacks periodically unleashed on the citizens regardless of existing security architecture.
There is a compelling need for a unified security arrangement aimed towards decisively addressing insecurity and potential risks threatening certain areas of the capital city and environs.
For a city state that has been an abode for relaxation, business activities and exhibition of admirable cultural heritage, Awka has become a shadow of its former glory in recent times, following sporadic attacks at certain black spots which poses danger to the residents, businessmen as well as the state’s democratic process.
For instance, in my desire to assuage heavy stress from the day’s hustling session on Friday, I settled down at a popular joint within Aroma axis in Awka for a cold bottle of beverage. Men and women were seated either in pairs or groups, deeply immersed in discussions on choice topics.
Suddenly an awful smell with thick choking smoke enveloped the area and everyone started coughing and grasping for breadth. “Oh my God! It is tear gas” exclaimed a lady who ran into the joint with her friend. “They’re catching everyone in site at the junction” she lamented.
That last remark got everyone running. Those who couldn’t run seemed to be ahead of others as they started moving ahead of other customers while the lady was still talking. Some of the customers abandoned their vehicles and scampered for safety while many others who have not paid for services rendered to them made away with the money in a bid to secure their lives first.
The whole street was deserted in a matter of seconds. Few minutes later some police vehicles sped through the road, blowing siren as they headed back to the station.
As a reporter I’m usually amongst the last set of people to leave an incident scene before it becomes police line. So in this particular case I followed the lady and her colleague to the back gate of the joint and opened up a conversation.
So sorry my dear, I hope you aren’t hurt? I inquired. “Not really, but I’m afraid someone may have suffered dearly” she replied. What happened exactly? I requested in a very calm tone.
“It’s the police! They stormed the junction and started arresting and pushing people into their vans without proper verification. Some people resisted so they fired a tear gas canister right beside a woman selling stuff and many people took to their heels”
Her explanation to me was enough to form a picture of what really happened at the junction. In my understanding, the police might have been informed about the presence of some criminals within the area, so they decided to rake people in and extract the suspect thereafter or they just wanted to play a “lucky dip” who knows, they could be lucky as anticipated.
Nevertheless, in as much as I will not disparage the police or any other security agency for deploying out of context approaches in their effort to rid the society of crimes and criminality, it is important for them to also ensure that anyone so apprehended but found innocent after investigation is duly released without intimidation or exploitation.
However, the renewed attacks by criminal elements within the Awka capital has become a source of worry as people and even motorists gets attacked in certain parts of the city, especially from 8:pm down. These attacks ranges from phone snatching, car snatching, kidnapping and sometimes gruesome wasting of human life as experienced recently within the capital city.
The admirable city of Awka which is widely known for blacksmith is at the moment unfortunately fraught with sporadic security challenges that beats the expectations of both residents and visitors who have been taking advantage of its once conducive nature to catch fun and move around the city peacefully from dusk to down.
Besides the Club Road popularly known as Abakaliki Street, businessmen in some parts of the council area could no longer extend their businesses into the night without fear of infringement or direct attacks occasioned by non-state actors and their likes who call the shots from the underworld.
Hostilities arising from cult clashes in the state capital have persisted despite the state government’s effort to curb insecurity and provide a livable homeland for Ndi Anambra as well as all residents of the state, through strategic planning, job creation, stakeholders engagement and execution of community driven projects.
It is therefore imperative for the state government to expand its structure of internal security to cover more areas, especially the flashpoints within the city, so as to boost economic activities and sustain the confidence reposed on the authorities by the good people of Anambra State.
Like wise, leaders of traditional and religious institutions should inculcate security discussions in their community / congregational engagements to deepen awareness about insecurity, analysing its negative effects on the democratic process and mutual coexistence.