Community leaders in the South East have Wednesday stated how they are treated by unknown gunmen in their various communities.
They said that gunmen now order them to surrender Vigilantes’ pump action guns, seize them for their evil activities.
According to one of the chairmen, this has put the villages in serious danger as they could no longer defend themselves. He said that many communities in the local government area were affected by the development, which explains why the various communities could no longer resist the invasion of the gunmen in the area.
The chairman said: “When they brought an unsigned letter demanding that we surrender all guns in our possession, we thought it was a joke, but the next thing we saw was fierce-looking heavily armed youths who stormed my house and demanded for the guns. They were strange faces and they took the guns we purchased for our vigilante outfit.
“What surprised me was that they knew the number of guns we have, which is an indication that someone from our community was working with them. We have tried to identify who the saboteur could be without success. As it stands, we are at their mercy. They can come into any community and operate without any resistance.”
In the meantime, the Ukpor–Orsumoghu–Isseke road has become a no-go area. The only security checkpoint along that road is at Amichi-Nnewi junction. Before the unknown gunmen took over that axis, the Isseke–Orsumoghu–Awka Etiti road used to be the alternative road from Imo State to Onitsha, but now, the road has been abandoned and many people living along the road have become refugees in safer neighbouring communities.
South-East Voice also found out that for anybody to organise any ceremony, including burials, weddings and chieftaincy installation, in Lilu, Mbosi, Azia, Orsumoghu and even Isseke, the person has to pay a certain amount to the agents of the unknown gunmen. Once the money is paid, the person is free to hold his ceremony without any disturbance.
It was also gathered that additional payment is made if those attending the ceremony would use the dreaded Isseke–Orsumoghu–Ukpor road, in which case there won’t be any operation along that road on the day of the event.
According to our investigation, one of the conditions for granting such permission is that the organiser of the event must not invite the police to the ceremony, otherwise the person would risk attack of the unknown gunmen during the ceremony.
“The situation has degenerated to the level that we pay to survive in this part of the state and we don’t even know the people we pay to,” the community leader said.
But in the opinion of Abia Onyike, it is difficult to blame any group for the increase in violent attacks and killings in the South- East, saying he believes it is the result of failure of government in the region.
“But my own opinion is that these ugly developments only point to the failure of government in the South- East. The origins of the insecurity can be traced to September, 2017 when the South-East governors and then Ohanaeze President colluded with the Federal authorities to conduct Operation Python Dance in the South-East. It was followed by the proscription of IPOB. Many Igbo youths in Aba were dehumanized and drowned in the ponds.
“The unintelligent Igbo leaders felt they were doing very well. And recently, we have seen how Ebubeagu had been turned into an instrument of harassment and intimidation of the political opponents of the APC governors in Ebonyi and Imo states. Government cannot be sponsoring violence and declaring war on the civil population and expect peace to reign.”