By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA—FOLLOWING the arrest of 52 youths from Umunze in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State, after a clash with the Police from Zone 9, Umuahia, in which one police man lost his life and several people sustained injuries, the traditional ruler of Umunze, His Royal Highness, Igwe Promise Eze has alleged invasion of his community by men of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, calling on the police to release the youths unconditionally.
A middle aged woman, who recently lost her husband, also lost her life as she reportedly fell on sighting the Police in the community, while properties worth millions of naira were also lost during the incident, including two hotels that were razed.
This came as the Anambra State Commissioner of Police; Mr. Garba Umar said the command would not fold its arms and allow miscreants violate the law with impunity, insisting that the arrested suspects would be charged to court to face the law so as to serve as a deterrent to others.
A statement by the CP said: “On March 2, 2018, police officers from Zone 9, Umuahia, were on investigation activities over a petition addressed to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 9, on a matter bordering on conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace over land.
“However, when members of the team got to Umunze, the youths attacked them with weapons, and the policemen sustained severe injuries, which resulted in the death of a policeman.”
But speaking yesterday at Umunze, Igwe Promise Eze faulted the statement by the police, insisting that his people were not criminals and ought not to have received the kind of treatment meted to them by an organisation working for the government.
Calling on the Anambra State Government to, as a matter of urgency, set up a panel of inquiry, independent of the Police, to investigate the alleged excesses of the Police who carried out the act, the monarch said such a panel would not only find a lasting solution to the ugly incident, but would assist in bringing to book the culprits, to serve as a deterrent to others in order to avert any recurrence.
According to the traditional ruler, the frequent invasion and harassment of the people of the community by the police has continued to pose a source of worry to him and his peace- loving people, recalling that the relationship between the community and the police had been cordial before it suddenly went sour as a result of the recent development.
He also recalled the role the police played when his two-year old only daughter was abducted in 2007 after spending two weeks in the kidnappers’ captivity, adding that he was always liaising with the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in his community.
The Monarch said: “The recent invasion in my community by the police and at odd times for that matter, and the steady arrest of youths, has continued to paint the community and the people in a bad light.
“The action of these police officers does not also speak well of the force and I still wonder whether those who invaded our community are real police officers in view of the calamities they carried out here.
“We are peace loving people and not criminals as they label us and we cannot afford to continue to be on the news for the wrong reasons.” .
According to the monarch, the genesis of the incident had nothing to do with land tussle as being reported in some quarters, explaining that it was fracas between two individuals over a little girl.
He said trouble began when one of the individuals, said to be a relation to the girl, had accused the other for beating the girl, adding that the accusation triggered quarrel, which culminated into fighting between the two of them.
He said one of them lodged a complaint at the Umunze police station and they were later reconciled by the DPO, adding that the same person who pledged not to raise the matter again, reported same to the Zone 9 Police in Abia State.
He said further: “The police came and raided the area and arrested the other man, together with some other youths. But instead of taking them to the station here, they took them to Ajali without the knowledge of the DPO.
“They later came back and arrested more youths, some of who were bailed with amount of money ranging from N5,000 to N10,000”.
According to the monarch, it was the return visit of three of the police to the community that triggered the anger of the youths of the community who confronted them, leading to the sporadic shooting of guns by the police.
He however said he had since pleaded with the irate youths to remain calm, assuring them that efforts were being made to find a lasting solution to the fracas.