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Security scare: A nation helplessly plundered

Posted by By IKENNA EMEWU (ikenna@sunnewsonline.com) on 2008/07/30 | Views: 2552 |

Security scare: A nation helplessly plundered


Nigeria has lived under serious security scare for too long that many don’t even know the difference between peace time and crisis season where the freedom of many are restricted by state of emergency or curfew.

Nigeria has lived under serious security scare for too long that many don’t even know the difference between peace time and crisis season where the freedom of many are restricted by state of emergency or curfew.

A Nigerian remains at home in terror, walks the streets looking over his shoulders, goes to work with his heart in his mouth and comes back home to continue with the agony of the unknown harm lurking in the dark. The daylight brings as much trepidation as the unknown and unseen forces of death in the night. Many Nigerians wont remember the last time they slept for a whole night uninterrupted by one security scare or another. Almost every citizen has ‘security fee’ for his street, estate, village, local government or others to pay as recurrent expenditure.

Vigilante groups now thrive with relish and money rolls in to the operatives who are mini kings with the absolute powers to terrorize you after paying in the name of safeguarding you. It is a vicious circle for the citizen who faces the barrage of the police officer, and indeed any uniformed worker in the society who all claim to secure you with omnibus briefs that are seamless and limitless.

Rumours of war
Every passing day brings fresh stories of crisis of security of the individual. The traveller on the road is at risk. The trader in his shop plays with security fire. The worker in his office is at risk. The banker goes out everyday with special prayers for his safety. The bullion van driver is already sure that he made the wrong job choice because ‘anything can happen’, as a Nigerian would say. The uniformed officer is at the butt of hoodlums bloodletting. It is common to see many policemen who can’t remember the last year they put their uniforms on. For very good reasons, they won’t dare.

In March this year, assassins who the police have not yet pinned their identity struck in a home in Onitsha, Anambra State and left two souls wasted. The victims were sisters – Uzoamaka Beatrice Egbuna and Chinwe Joy Egbuna. The later was the Director, Private and Property Law at the National Law Reforms Commission. That tragedy of March 28 has left an indelible scar on the minds and history of the family.

In Lagos sometime in late May, a businessman from Ebonyi State was murdered just at his gate at the Okota area of Lagos. His expensive Infinity jeep was taken as his lifeless body was pushed out.
As regards bank robbery, the killing of police officers and others, Nigerians have lost count on the frequency.

The most recent alarm was the attack on the convoy of another protected citizen – the Abia State governor, Chief Theodore Oji this week. Before his attack, the Delta State governor’s convoy was picked, and in the process three persons riding in the convoy were killed.
Hostage taking for ransom, and so mindlessly, children a s main target has come to stay. It is most common in the Niger Delta, but because criminals know it is a money-spinner, most have abandoned their crime beats to embrace this new rave.

When they visited Imo State, the wife of transport mogul, Frank Nneji was taken. By the time she was released after huge amount was paid, they picked up the father of the Speaker of the state House of Assembly. That must have also paid handsomely.

The one they have in their custody now is the father of the Secretary to the Delta State government, Pa Okowa. Before him, the elder brother of Nigerian international footballer, Yobo Joseph was taken. The news at last was that Yobo parted with N40m to have his brother back.

It is an endless list from real experiences and what Saturday Sun uncovered in this wide interview.
The tension becomes most worrisome with the police authority pleading helplessness in dealing with the situation as the Force PRO told Saturday Sun that because of the people involved in the reign of terror along the Lagos-Badagry expressway – military officers and their ilk and their offspring of course.

…We are handicapped – Police
The Nigeria Police PRO was not forthcoming on what should give the citizens and residents of Lagos some hope on the incessant robbery attacks on stranded motorists especially on the Mile Two-Badagry expressway.

The attacks are most common around the Ojo Military cantonment. He rather said the reports of the incidents are rather exaggerated. When pressed further with statistics of armed banditry along the road, he said he spoke with the Lagos State Commissioner for Police, Marvel Akpoyibo on the situation on that road and the commissioner assured him that he has deployed police patrol team on that road.
However, he admitted that the police are handicapped in sanitizing the area because of the presence the military barrack as the police would try to avoid confrontation with soldiers. Many Lagosians know the people behind the attacks are always readily traced to the barracks where idle soldiers and soldiers’ children keep themselves busy unleashing terror on people on the road.

Most of the attackers are always seen escaping into the barracks after striking.
Recently, an armed robber and son of a soldier living in Ojo Military Cantonment who was arrested by the Festac Police confessed that a molue cannot contain all the armed robbers in that military barrack if they were arrested.

Because of the menace of the armed robbers believed to be children of military men living and operating from the military barrack, travelling along that route from 7.30 pm is a journey to Golgotha.
Since vehicles grind to a total halt at the Volkswagen bus stop end of the road in the evening armed robbers come out from the premises of Volkswagen to attack and rob motorists every 30 minutes spilling blood at the end of the day. A fence demarcates Volkswagen and the military barrack. There is an escape route to the barrack from the Volkswagen. Any time the route is blocked, it is pulled down the next moment.

In charge
Force Public Relation Officer, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Akperebi Akpoebi while speaking on the state of insecurity in the country to Saturday Sun on the phone on Wednesday night noted that Nigerians like to generalize. He debunked the assertion that there is high rate of insecurity in the country. He advised Nigerians to desist from making unguarded statements that portray the country in bad light. He said for any specific crime committed, the police are on the ground to nab the criminals responsible.

Abia gov attack
Akpoebi in reaction to the attack on Abia governor said the police gave the robbers a hot chase after the governor’s convoy was attacked and in the gun duel that ensued, the police killed one of the gangsters and arrested three others others.


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