Obinna Odogwu, Awka
With a sorrowful countenance, the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 13 covering Anambra and Enugu States, Danmallam Mohammed, walked into the premises of 3-3 Divisional Police Station, Onitsha to assess the level of destruction recorded there during the recent EndSARS protests.
The police division, which is not far from the premises of the 54 Police Mobile Force, was completely razed by the rampaging hoodlums who reportedly hijacked the hitherto peaceful nationwide protests.
At the police station, a total of eight buildings were razed, 10 vehicles burnt and its fence pulled down. A chapel in its premises said to be newly roofed with expensive roofing sheets was vandalised.
The roof was said to have been loosened from the building, lowered down, and carried away without loosening the nails. The windows, doors and other important property in the chapel were equally reportedly looted.
Important documents and other valuables in the police station were also razed even as some important security gadgets were reportedly vandalised.
It was alleged that the police officers attached to the 3-3 Police Division took to their heels immediately they sighted the rampaging hoodlums posing as protesters.
It was gathered that the said police division was populated by female officers and as such could not have been able to defend the station from the angry youths if they had stayed back.
After an assessment of the destruction at the station, the AIG with his team moved to 54 PMF where he was briefed by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the station.
The police boss also encouraged and motivated the policewomen attached to the station who had gathered there to receive him.
From there, AIG Danmallam moved to Upper Iweka and other parts of Onitsha to assess the security situations in the areas. He was received by some traders from Main Market led by Ekene Wasky who briefed him on the security situation in the commercial city.
Ekene, while speaking with reporters, said that before the AIG dispatched policemen to the area to restore peace and reassure the people of the police’ readiness to protect them, the people had been apprehensive over their safety.
“We are happy the way the AIG is taking care of the people to make sure that the situation is cool and calm. Five days ago, he was the one who opened the River Niger Bridge. We are very happy with him. That is the type of police we need in this country.
“These people destroying property everywhere here are hoodlums. They came in from other states. They don’t live here. They came to destroy our property. But we are happy that the situation has been brought under control. We have reopened our businesses,” Ekene stated.
In addition to public property torched in Onitsha, the statue of the first Nigeria’s president, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, popularly known as Zik was set ablaze by the rampaging hoodlums at DMGS roundabout.
At Ekwusigo Central Police Station and Area Command Headquarters in Oraifite community, Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State, the losses were many.
The police station located at the Oraifite axis of the Onitsha – Owerri Expressway has three buildings in it. The three buildings were vandalised and set ablaze.
At the station, ten vehicles were burnt, including a trailer parked outside the compound. A tricycle was also burnt and one water tank destroyed. The sewage pipes in the buildings were also broken.
It was further gathered that some valuable security gadgets and uniforms were looted by the marauding hoodlums who hijacked the EndSARS protests in the area.
While still inspecting the damages, the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, who was also carrying out inspections in other parts of the state, stormed the Oraifite station. He was accompanied by the Commissioner of Police, Mr John Abang.
The AIG, Mohammed lamented the wanton destruction of police property in various parts of the state. He, however, said that his boys would not be discouraged by that.
The AIG said “We started this exercise of confidence building patrol since yesterday. And today you have seen the areas we visited. You have seen the level of carnage perpetrated by the criminals.
“And my message to our policemen and officers is that they should not allow themselves to be intimated. We are encouraging them to come out and provide security to the members of the public.
“We are for the maintenance of law and order, protection of lives and property. I am also encouraging them to defend police formations and the members of the public.
“We are not attacking anybody but whoever that comes to attack us, we have the constitutional right of self defence. They should know that. I encourage them to come out and perform their duties.
“For the good people of Anambra State, especially Onitsha, truly, we appreciate them for their support. There was an attempt some days back to block this Niger Bridge. We just made a few calls and they came out and synergized with us.
“And that was how we stopped the blockage of this bridge. There was also an attempt to attack some police stations in this Onitsha. It is the same members of the public that came out in large numbers and supported the police to resist the attackers. So, this is the type of synergy we are looking for from the members of the public.”
On his part, Obiano said: “I am here to see for myself the havoc that these criminals caused here. Well, I am happy with the police that they were able to repel them here in Oraifite. But for that repelling, they would have caused more damage.
“I encourage the police and other security agencies posted to Anambra to continue to show gallantry. Anambra has always been the safest state in Nigeria and we are proud our police.
“Although a few of them may have some challenges, it is not enough to castigate all.
“I will call on the big sons of Oraifite to quickly help the police to fix this facility which was originally done by them. They lost quite some property: laptops, a few touch-ups here and there in the buildings. So, it’s certainly not going to be a big deal for Oraifite people.
“I will also want them to support their youths and their vigilantes so that in the future they can support the police. This time around, they tried but not in any organised format.
“And we look forward to seeing every community doing that; supporting the vigilante services in their community and supporting the police.
“Let me say here once more that I am very proud of the police in Anambra. I want them to continue doing the good work they are doing. Let the lessons of EndSARS be for you to bring out your professionalism in your day to day activity.
“It should also go for other arms of the forces because today it is police. It can be any other security outfit next time. Everybody should try and support the police. To you police, be motivated at this point.
“We have a lot of support from the Army, Civil Defence, Navy and others. So, we are battle ready for any miscreant trying to disturb our peace here. We will not tolerate any form of malfeasance in this place again. Enough is enough.”