Orifite community in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State has become a ghost town following the fleeing of youths and some villagers in the area since the deployment of the Joint Task Force (JTF) made up of the police and soldiers. It would be recalled that two masquerade cult groups had been at war over who heads the traditional leadership of the community’s masquerade organisation which led to the clash by both rival groups of Otu Eke and Out- Afor respectively. The clash led to the invitation of the rival groups by the Anambra State police command. But one of the groups, Otu-Eke, led by the lawyer of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOP) Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor refused to honour the invitation. It was the refusal of the Out-Eke masquerade cult to honour the invitation that led to the police embarking on the arrest of the group who are also members of IPOB.
It was this that led to the killing and burning of the Area Commander Ichi town and the officerin- charge of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Orifite, Abbey Oliver and Joseph Akubo by suspected youths of the masquerade cult.
When this reporter visited the town youths in the area have taken flight for fear of being arrested by the Joint Security Task Force. Some villagers who are scared of being arrested fled also. Everistus Nwosu, a trader told Saturday Telegraph that: “The Police and army people are so many and the way they are operating in our community shows that innocent people would be at the receiving end in the aftermath of these killings.
“So you cannot expect youths in our town to be walking about the town freely without the police trying something funny and it may lead to another clash between the boys and the security task force.”
Mrs. Ngozika Izuchukwu a teacher told Saturday Telegraph that there have been reports of harassment by some policemen of the villagers. She said: “I don’t know how true it is but people have been complaining of harassment by security men who claim that they are searching for the boys that killed the OC SARS and the Area Commander. So everybody is afraid of the security men and our town is under tension.” Currently, over 80 policemen and soldiers are already in charge of security formations and major flash points of crime in the community.
According to the President General of Orifite Improvement Union (OIU) Sir Sunny Igboanuzue, “You know that we have banned all masquerade groups in our town because of this incident and the presence of security men here is to maintain law and order and we have not experienced any problem between the community and the security men. “People should remain calm and go about their lawful duties because we are also here to settle whatever fallout that may arise.” According to the public relations officer of the command in Anambra State Mr Mohammed Haruna who spoke to Saturday Telegraph there are no proofs of any act of harassment by policemen.
He further stated that such allegations should be put in writing by the affected villagers and forwarded to the office of the Commissioner of police for necessary action. Haruna also stated that the prime suspect in connection with the killing of the OC SARS and the Area Command for Ekwusigo is still at large and that the command is continuing the hunt for him and his cohorts. But Haruna contended that the officers and men deployed in the community were given express order to maintain law and order in the area and that anyone saying something contrary is only trying to deceive the public.