By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka
THE new police commissioner in Anambra State, Mr. Amakulor Uzor got the baptism of fire that is now familiar with police bosses posted to the state barely one week after assuming office as armed robbers virtually overran the state, leaving on their trail, several dead bodies while many received varying degrees of injuries.
His predecessor, Mr. Amusa Bello had the same baptism the first day he was named the commissioner of police and he had to be at the battle ground with his men.
Within the short period he functioned as CP, Bello also had kidnappers to contend with. The increasing menace of the robbers was coming at a time the state government had spent millions of naira in cash and equipment to the police to enable them secure the people. But for the greater part of last week, residents in the cities of Awka and Nnewi lived in fear as the dare devil robbers operated freely, thus forcing the people to remain indoors.
On Thursday last week, the gunmen held Awka hostage for about an hour, killing one person and injuring several others in a rare display of bravado with no response from security operatives. For the period they operated, they drove round the famous Eke Awka round -about and after robbing a Bureau de Change office located in the market, displayed for about 20 minutes while the people watched.
They even encouraged the spectators to clap for them and even in the manner of the infamous Anini of the old Bendel State, threw some bundles of money to the crowd. Later, the hoodlums drove through Zikâ€™s Avenue in the heart of Awka and headed to Enugu and ended up at the University town of Nsukka where they wrecked havoc.
Ironically, while the inhabitants of Awka were facing the onslaught of the gunmen, the commercial town of Nnewi and the neighbouring Nnokwa were in turmoil as another set of robbers waylaid people from far and near who attended the burial ceremony of the father of the South East zonal chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, leaving two former aides of former Ebonyi State Governor dead.
A serving member of theÂ House of Representatives, Mr. Paulinus Igwe Nwagu, however escaped death by the whiskers after being hit by the bullets from the guns fired by the robbers.
The lawmaker is said to be in coma at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu even as it was gathered that attempts were being made by his colleagues in the House of Representatives to fly him out of the country for adequate treatment.
The robbery incident at Nnewi prevented many people, includingÂ Enugu State Governor, Mr. Sullivan Chime and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu from attending the funeral in Nnewi.
However, while people thought there was a respite from the robbers on Friday, the inhabitants of Awka discovered, to their chargin that all the commercial banks were closed. Though no robbery incident was recorded on that day, it was gathered that they were merely protesting the increasing menace of robbery in the state capital. Being the last working day of the week, it was indeed a bleak weekend for the people as they lacked money.
The effect of the banks not working on Friday had its impact on Monday as all the banks in the state capital were jam-packed with customers.
However, the people of the state heaved a sigh of relief when the police announced that the gang that robbed four banks at Nsukka was apprehended at Anaku in Ayamelum local government area of Anambra State. The state police command said it killed two members of the gang, recovered N4.1 million and four vehicles from them, while one person was arrested. Some of them were said to have escaped with bullet wounds when their fire power could not match that of the police.
Police commissioner Amakulor who alongside his senior officers, paraded the suspects at Awkuzu headquarters of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) said they waited for the robbers following information that they were heading to Anambra State from Nsukka, a day after their operation at the University town.
He explained that the police, on hearing of the bank robbery in Nsukka , had laid ambush at Anaku which was considered possible route for the robbers returning to Anambra.Â Â Expectedly aroundÂ 6 pm, the robbers arrived and there was an exchange of gun fire that lasted till 12 midnight before the robbers retreated back to Enugu after losing two members of their gang.
Items recovered at the scene of the gun duel included, one Ak 47 rifle No 07698, one pump action rifle H22056E, 25 PMF Azumini, complete mobile uniform bearing Adamu Yakubu F/ NO 404313, Army camouflage trouser, one riot gunner, 375 rounds of 6.75 mm Brownie, 25 empty AK 47 magazines , 28 loaded AK 47 magazines (865), 367 rounds of 9.mm ammunition.
Others include one Berata pistol No 5261, two native attires, four long sleeve shirts , two short sleeve shirts , four jeans trousers, one ordinary trouser, three pairs of sandal slippers , one black belt , one small box , two travelling bags , one blackÂ purse containing some addresses and passport photographs , the sum of N4,141 , 158 million , two white Hilux pick -up vans, one L300 bus with the number X Igbo Etiti L.G.A and one 406 Peugeot car No DB 652 ENU.
Also recovered from the suspects include a rocket propelled grenade with the launcher, 28AK 47 loaded magazines, 20 expended magazines containing over 60 pellets each.
The Anambra State Police commissioner however gave glory of the feat to God debunking the allegation that the robbers were arrested by the Anaku vigilante before handing them over to the police.
He said the marching order from the Inspector General of Police for him to stop the robbery and kidnapping saga in Anambra would not be played with , restating that Anambra people would soon have peace.