From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
Some degree of uncertainty appears to be hanging over the Anambra State governorship election scheduled to hold on November 6, 2021.
The fear stemmed from growing insecurity in the state, which the security agents, particularly the police, have recorded high number of casualties.
In the past three months, series of deadly attacks have been launched on security formations and at the last count, about 16 policemen and four naval officers have been killed.
The first attack on police in Anambra State this year took place on February 24. That day, criminals from the pit of hell launched deadly attacks on policemen at Mkpologwu and Omogho communities in Aguata and Orumba North local government areas respectively killing four policemen.
Two policemen were killed on both sides by the stone-hearted criminals who also set their patrol vehicles ablaze, disappearing with their guns and leaving pains and agony on their trail.
According to sources, the gunmen operated with a black Mercedes Benz 4matic and another unidentified brand of car.
Sadly, those vicious attacks took place a few days after the widely publicised red card issued to criminals in the state by the new Commissioner of Police, Monday Kuryas.
On March 18, gunmen killed three policemen who were on duty at a location in Neni community, Anaocha LGA of the state and carted away their rifles. They also set their patrol vehicles ablaze.
On the same day, three naval personnel on duty at Awkuzu, Oyi LGA were attacked and killed. Their guns and other military equipment were equally taken away by their assailants. It came about three weeks after the Mkpologwu and Omogho incidents.
On March 19, gunmen again attacked the vehicle belonging to the Nigeria Correctional Service on court duty, killing one personnel and a policewoman who joined the vehicle from the court in Ekwulobia.
Confirming the development, the Command Public Relations Officer of the service, DSC Francis Ekezie, in a statement, said that the attackers went away with the crime suspect who was taken to court.
“Gunmen yet to be identified attacked the court duty Vehicle of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Anambra State at Nanka while conveying inmates back from court to the Aguata custodial centre.
“The attackers killed the Corrections officer and whisked away the inmate being taken back to the Custodial Centre.
“Although the armed escort put up a gallant resistance, he was unfortunately overpowered by the hoodlums who came in their numbers with sophisticated weapons.
“The state controller, Nwakeze Emmanuel, while expressing his deep shock over the incident, has advised the public and indeed officers and men of the command to remain calm as investigations have commenced with the collaboration of other security agencies”, the statement read.
On March 21, one policeman sustained gunshot injuries when some gunmen attacked their police post in Mgbakwu community, Awka North LGA.
The incident, Sunday Sun gathered, took place in the early hours of Sunday. It was also gathered that the hoodlums, who released some gunshots in the air, also made attempts to set the police post ablaze.
Sources said that there was a gun battle between the criminals and the policemen on night duty. They said that it was during the gun duel that the policeman was injured.
There were traces of blood on the floor of the police post as seen in a video trending on social media. The quantum of blood on the floor indicated that the victim was badly injured.
Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu, in a statement, confirmed the attack but said that the attackers were successfully repelled by the police personnel on duty.
On March 31, gunmen, at about 5:00p.m, attacked the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Charles Soludo, killing three of his police orderlies.
Soludo, a governorship aspirant for the November 6 election on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), was addressing youths of Isuofia at their civic centre when the gunmen struck.
The state’s Commissioner for Public Utilities, Emeka Ezenwanne, was also abducted by the gunmen. He has, since, regained his freedom.
An eyewitness at the event who preferred anonymity told our correspondent that the gunmen also made away with the policemen’s rifles.
“We were at a meeting in Isuofia, gunmen came there and started shooting. They killed our three policemen there. Prof was addressing Isuofia youths. As he was speaking, gunmen invaded there and starting shooting. I was there. Everybody started running. They killed three policemen.”
Asked if he was suspecting that the gunmen came to attack Soludo or was it targeted at the police, he said: “They killed the policemen and carried their guns. Maybe it is those people who have been attacking and killing policemen.
“It is also possible that it was a politically motivated attack. I don’t know. It happened inside Isuofia hall around 5:00p.m.”
While the matter was yet to die down, the gunmen attacked Zone 13 Police Headquarters in Ukpo, Dunukofia LGA.
According to police sources, the gunmen stormed the zonal headquarters located along Awka – Onitsha Expressway at about 4:00a.m and opened fire on the facility, killing two policemen. Their names were given as Inspector Ishaku Aura and PC Uzoma Uwaebuka.
The daredevil criminals who were said to have stormed the area with sophisticated firearms destroyed some vehicles parked in the premises. They also burnt a security house at the gate.
Ordinarily, the police and other security agencies are supposed to protect the people and property.
During elections, it is also the duty of security operatives to stand in the gap for the people, security-wise.
Sadly, the security officers are now endangered. This ugly situation appears to be threatening the governorship election. If the growing insecurity continues without check, stakeholders have expressed fear that the election might not hold as scheduled.
Chairmen of some political parties who spoke to Sunday Sun held divergent opinions about the situation and how they thought it might affect the governorship election.
They were, however, united in their beliefs that the election would hold despite the security challenge.
The state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu, said that he was sad about the ugly security situation in the state.
He, however, said that he was confident that the security operatives would bring the ugly situation under control.
“I believe that the election will hold. It is unfortunate that we are witnessing insecurity now; a situation where hoodlums are now attacking the law enforcement agents. That is very bad. It doesn’t present a conducive atmosphere for election.
“But be that as it may, I urge the security agencies to rise up to the occasion. There is no way the security agents will be cowed by this madness that is being exhibited. Rather, they should re-strategize, recalibrate on how to tackle the menace and nip it before the election.
Asked about the preparedness of his party for the election, Nwobu said: “Everybody who has been following us for the past two months knows that the PDP is gearing for the election seriously.
“We just finished our massive membership drive which was very, very fruitful. It shows that Ndi-Anambra have been yearning to join the PDP family. This thing was done in the open. It wasn’t done in anybody’s house. It was done in the village squares.
“Apart from this membership drive, we are setting up our billboards across the length and breadth of the state so that people will start identifying with our brand.
“Even some prominent companies still advertise their products even when they are making good sales. So, the PDP, inasmuch as we know that the people are with us and are yearning for us, we are equally branding and advertising so that it will be keyed into their psyche.
“Again, as I speak with you, the leader of the party, former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, is touring all the local government areas in this state.
“Today, he visited Ihiala, Ekwusigo, Nnewi South and he is in Nnewi North as I speak with you. He is going round, mobilizing followership to ensure they are all prepared for this election.
“So, all said and done, I think the party is showing clearly that we are prepared and we are ever ready to ensure that we wrestle power from the present government that has misdirected the state.
“We don’t want to wrestle power for the sake of wrestling power like the APC did at the centre; we are wrestling power to bring about good governance, change the narrative and take Anambra back to the winning ways. That’s our agenda.”
Secretary of APGA in the state, Anthony Ifeanya, a lawyer, said that his party was worried about the ugly situation, but said that the state government under its control was making spirited efforts to restore normalcy to the state.
Ifeanya said: “We are worried in a way that what is happening is becoming unbearable but we are not worried up to the extent of wanting to believe or think that the election will not hold.
“The election will be held because the date has been fixed and it is not as we don’t know where these people are coming from. Unknown gunmen are human beings. They are just wearing that toga: unknown men.
“And it is condemnable that it is our own people that are trying to set our place on fire. This is because if this war drum they are beating finally starts, the Southeast will be the battleground.
“I don’t see any reason the election will not hold by November 6 because we already know that that is the reason all these people that are trying to destabilize Anambra.
“Some have even boasted about it. You’re not a sitting government; you don’t have authority and you’re declaring that election will not hold in Anambra State. Who gave them power to declare that election will not hold in Anambra?
“You are not even from Anambra State and you’re not even here. Those of them that didn’t witness the 1967-1970 Nigeria/Biafra civil war are the ones clamouring for war.
“They don’t know that war should be the very last option. You don’t just jump into it because it has a lot of negative consequences. The way they are going about it for whatever reason is not the best. They are just thinking like children.”
On the preparedness of APGA for the guber poll, Ifeanya said: “If we do what we are supposed to do by putting our house in order and conducting a credible primary election, we will win the main election.
“Everybody is worried about the security situation because the thing is getting worse day by day. Let us pray and we hope that before November 6 something might have happened to check the ugly situation.
“If nothing happens between now and November, the election may not hold because the thing is getting worse day by day. But I foresee intervention from God and from some foreign countries.”
On the faction existing in the party at the national level, Ifeanya said that the party was not disturbed or bothered about Chief Edozie Njoku and his group. He said that Chief Victor Oye remained the National Chairman of the party.
“We are not much bothered about that because that has been the antics of some of these foreign elements who pretend to be APGA members. Edozie Njoku, to the best of my knowledge, was among the six persons expelled from this party in our 2015 national convention.
“So, what Edozie Njoku is doing is what Agbaso did during the second term of Obiano in 2017. So, it has become their way of looking for money from Anambra State.
“So, I have no fear that he will lose out. He is just looking for recognition and maybe, something to put in his pocket”, the state party secretary said.
The All Progressives Congress (APC), on its part, also condemned in strong terms, the unwarranted attacks on the security operatives in the state. It urged the security operatives not to be cowed or intimidated by the ugly situation.
Chairman of the party in the state, Chief Basil Ejidike, said: “First of all, we have to appreciate the fact that the issue of security should be a collective responsibility and you know that no community thrives amidst insecurity. And where there is no peace, there is no progress.
“It behoves on us to come together and see how we can help ourselves by helping the security agencies. I also condemn in strong terms the attacks on our security agents.
“I also want to appeal to the security agents not to give in to these threats no matter the pressure because I am sure that these activities are done with some criminal intentions.
“You will agree with me that once the security agencies are weakened, you and me are not safe again. They can’t just play into their hands. So, I urge the security agencies to endure and devise new tactics to tackle this menace.
“On the issue of elections, I don’t see the reason while election cannot take place. I don’t see that but the fact remains that we need to do the needful to ensure that we stem the tide of insecurity. It is very important. The issue of security is the responsibility of all of us.
Asked about his rating of APGA-led government in the area of security, Ejidike said: “The performance of the state government is abysmal. You will agree with me that APGA has completely failed Anambra State. APGA is lacking in everything.
“Look at the COVID-19 crisis, Anambra has not shown any preparedness. Tell me where we have testing centres unlike what obtains in other states. Even the ones they said that they have established, if you go there you won’t find anything.
“In terms of infrastructural development, you will agree with me that whatever thing that is happening in Anambra today is being done by the Federal Government.
“The roads that are being done is by the Federal Government; the Second Niger Bridge, look at the moribund wharf in Onitsha and we know the importance of that wharf to the socio-economic wellbeing of our people.
“The new man there, George Muoghalu, has turned things around there. Containers are now coming into Onitsha and we are happy for that. So, there are quite a number of things being initiated by the Federal Government.
“Tell me the ones that are being done by the state government. Or does it mean that we are not getting the money? There were these periods that they were given N10 billion from Paris refunds; on two occasions. Where is the money?
“Tell me any major road that this administration has done. When (Dr Chris) Ngige was there, he was, even with all the pressures, able to construct roads from Idemili to Anambra East through Awkuzu to Otuocha.
“From Onitsha to Aguata; from Aguata to Umuze through Umuchu; almost 100 kilometres. You can’t say the same thing with this administration. Does that mean that we are no longer getting money?”