By Vincent Ujumadu
IN the build up to the November 6, 2021 governorship election in Anambra State, the level of insecurity in the state degenerated to such a level that hardly a day passed without a police station being attacked and set ablaze, with attendant loss of lives of security operatives.
The eventual winner of that election, Professor Chukwuma Soludo also experienced an ugly experience during the period as gunmen attacked the venue of the meeting he was holding with youths in his Isuofia community in Aguata local government area, which left three policemen assigned to him dead.
The state of insecurity was so bad that at a time, the Attorney General of the Federal muted the idea of declaring a state of emergency in Anambra and that could have scuttled the governorship election. However, sanity eventually prevailed and the election was successfully conducted and Soludo won.
During his inauguration on March 17, 2022 at Government House, Awka, Soludo dwelt so much on the state of insecurity, reminding Anambra people that progress would be made faster in a secured environment and called on members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and other aggrieved groups to join him in creating a livable Anambra State by coming to a discussion table to air their grievances for government to look into and solve their problem.
But rather than heed the call, the attacks by gunmen intensified in many parts of the state, in the early days of the Soludo administration, particularly in Anambra South senatorial zone where he is from. That was why some people believe that the aim of those behind the insecurity situation in the state is to frustrate the new governor from executing all his lofty ideas that would navigate Anambra State to the next level.
Worried by the worrisome situation, Soludo, on Saturday last week, took the bold step of paying a visit to the leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu at the DSS where he is being detained and facing treasonable charges. In a post he made on his Facebook page after the visit, Soludo said he visited the IPOB leader to find a lasting solution to the issue of insecurity in the South-East. During the visit, the governor said Nnamdi Kanu actually decried the killing of innocent persons, kidnappings and all forms of criminalities in the South East and also lamented the brutal enforcement of the weekly ‘sit-at-home’ perpetuated by groups claiming to be acting on behalf of IPOB.
Soludo added that the IPOB leader promised to ‘personally’ prevail on his followers, through a broadcast, to maintain peace whenever he gets the opportunity to interact with them. With the assurance, Soludo said “Together, we shall restore peace, security and prosperity in Anambra State and the South-East”
.As if the gunmen were not happy that he visited Kanu, they again struck in the governor’s constituency and abducted the member representing him in the state House of Assembly, Hon Okechukwu Okoye. While presenting his revised budget in the House of Assembly two days ago, Soludo said: “ I regret that one of you, the member representing the good people of Aguata II Constituency in the House of Assembly (my own representative) – Hon. Okechukwu Okoye, is still in the custody of the kidnappers. The security agencies are working very hard and around the clock to secure his freedom. God is on the throne and Anambra will win”.
The national chairman of the ruling All progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Dr. Victor Oye said it would not be too difficult for security agencies to solve the problem of insecurity in Anambra State if it is determined to do so.
But the nagging question is, why are the attacks more in Anambra State? With the recent killings, burning down of state- owned assets and the recent threat to attack 10 more local governments in the state, it is becoming obvious that the issue is no longer about Nnamdi Kanu’s detention, but a deliberate plan to bring Anambra State down.
Questions agitating the minds of many people in Anambra State include, Is Nnamdi Kanu from Anambra State? Why take on Anambra State and Prof. Soludo;s government? Is there an agenda the people behind these attacks are pursuing? Is Soludo to blame for Kanu’s detention? Why is his home state of Abia enjoying peace, while Anambra people are suffering? Even states whose governors had openly expressed their opposition to the Biafra agitation are enjoying peace, while Anambra where many people are indifferent about the agitation, are living in fear due to the frequent attacks by gunmen.
The leader of Anambra Civil Society Network (ACSONET), a platform for citizens and non state actors in the state, Prince Chris Azor, who spoke in Awka warned that the renewed violent attacks and killings in targeted areas of the state, resulting in arson and wanton destruction of lives and property could no longer be tolerated by the people.
According to Azor, the federal government had not shown any visible and tangible concern amidst widely reported incidents of insecurity in Anambra State and the entire South East geopolitical zone.
He said: “ President Muhammadu Buhari is the Commander in Chief of the Nigeria Armed Forces and de facto chief security officer of the Federation. Again, security is on the exclusive list of the Constitution of the Federal Republic (as amended).. The President should therefore take full responsibility if anything goes wrong security wise in any part of the country. The network of citizens is prepared to sue the President if he fails to address the ugly situation with the urgency it deserves
“Anambra State has been recording renewed violent attacks from hoodlums even after the visit of Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo’s visit to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in custody. Governor Soludo convoked a peace and security summit within two weeks of his inauguration. He followed it up with the setting up of a security and peace committee.
“He has also, held several engagement meetings with the security apparatchik, traditional institution, town and market unions, youth, women, civil society and sundry stakeholders, all aimed at finding lasting solution to insecurity and restoring peace and prosperity in the state, and the southeast zone, yet the problem has persisted”
Another indigene of Anambra State, Mr. Nnadi Obiora said there is no justification for gunmen to be attacking Anambra State when her governor, Soludo has given the agitators an olive branch for peace to reign.
He said: “They want to bring Anambra State down and it seems they’re winning. Anambra State is fast becoming a ghost state, losing her pride of place as a business hub and light of the nation. Schools are closed for three days running and our kids are wasting away whereas schools are open in other states.
“Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and all our other fallen heroes will be turning restlessly in their graves when they behold the ugly spectacle that Anambra State has become.
We should not allow miscreants to overrun this state and regulate our very existence. How can we suddenly become docile in the face of tyranny? Gathering under mango trees to eat, drink and enjoy small talks on weekdays when our fellows in other states are busy doing their businesses, has become part of our lives.
“Our kids wake up in the morning and play till evening when their mates in other states are busy in their classrooms studying. It is high time we took back our schools, our markets, our businesses and our lives”.
Last week, IPOB asked the police to go after the criminals wreaking the southeast.