OKEY MADUFORO reports on Prof. Chukwuma Soludo’s 100 days in office as governor of Anambra State, particularly efforts by his administration to tackle insecurity
It was high hopes on March 17, when Prof. Chukwuma Soludo stepped into the Anambra State government house.
However, shortly after he had taken the oath of office and oath of allegiance that what could be described as a mellow drama heralded his ascension to the number one seat of the state.
Two Amazon’s had to use that opportunity to settle old scores as the duo of Amb. Bianca Ojukwu and former Anambra first lady, Ebelechukwu Obiano, engaged themselves in one of the worst show of shame. Apparently unhappy with the incident Soludo warned that “under my watch, I will not tolerate any act of lawlessness and anyone who do not want peace might as well get out.”
To further stamp his authority over the state, he announced the scraping of all revenue committees and declared a tax holiday for the people. This sent signal to those involved in sharp practices at the State Revenue Board that Soludo means business and that it is an end of the old order.
But the revenue thieves would not back down as they chose to compromise the governor’s order. However, Soludo took them head on as the government task force stormed the major markets and made several arrests.
A day after his inauguration, he took a trip to Okpoko town in Ogbaru Local Government Area, which he said would be turned into a mega township and this was coupled with a week environmental sanitation excise that saw the cleaning of four local government areas which include Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Idemili North and Ogbaru local government areas.
Expectations became high when it was announced that interested persons that wish to work for Anambra State should apply online and over 50,000 applications were received, and many wondered how he would sift the names and make appointments from them.
Soludo indeed proved book makers wrong when he announced a 22-man executive council as well as 15 special advisers, all of them round pegs in round holes.
The cabinet is really a blend of politicians and technocrats hence keeping fate with his promise of not forgetting party members and loyalists. Similarly the appointment of Dr. Alex Obiogbolu as Special Adviser on Political Matters indeed gave his administration the much needed bite and acceptability among the political class, who has so much respect for one of their own.
While the state rolled out its festive drums in support of Soludo, criminal elements described as “unknown gunmen” came calling with the attack on Aguata, the governor’s local government area.
They gunmen attacked three other council areas as well as kidnapped and later beheaded the member representing Aguata State constituency, Hon. Okey Okoye, who hails from Isuofia town as Soludo. Consequent upon these incidents Soludo placed a dusk to dawn curfew on the seven local government areas that make up Anambra South Senatorial District.
The councils are Aguata, Ihiala, Ekwusigo, Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Ogbaru, Orumba North and Orumba South. Motorcycles, tricycles and shuttle buses were banned from operating in these local governments on Mondays until the sit-at-home completely stops. Youths of communities within the zone were enjoined to assist the security agencies in the implementation of the policy and were mandated to seize any such motorcycle or tricycle on the spot.
The governor also urged local vigilantes to report such motorcycles or tricycles for them to be confiscated by government and the owner prosecuted. He further said that no part of Anambra State (house, bush or forest) shall be used as camps for the criminals. According to him, “anyone with a gun in a camp is considered a criminal in Anambra State, and the government and people will work with security agencies to flush them out.”
He added: “The state government shall pursuant to its powers under the Land Use Act revoke and acquire any land found to be harbouring these criminals for public purpose. Henceforth, every community is required to provide information on any part of their land occupied by these criminals as camps. If the community fails to do so, the government will take over such land.”
The security measure put in place by the Soludo administration no doubt has recorded success in several parts of the state even though there can never be a complete eradication of criminality in any given society. One week after Soludo declared war on insecurity in Anambra State, about seven camps belonging to the alleged gunmen are said to have been busted in Anambra South Senatorial District.
Similarly, nine shrines used by the arsonists to force natives into oath taking have also been destroyed by the Joint Task Force on security and natives, who act as informants to the gunmen are under police custody. Areas said to have been affected by the raid of the task force include Aguluezechukwu in Aguata Local Government Area, Ebenato community in Nnewi South Local Government Area, Ezinifite community also in Nnewi South Local Government area and Ichi in Ekwusigo Local Government Area.
Other areas include part of Osumoghu, Lilu and some parts of Ukpor in Nnewi South and Ihiala local government areas. When contacted the Anambra Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, said it is too early to begin to count the successes made so far in the war against terror in the state.
“We have been making huge success in this fight against insecurity but I cannot say the number because this would jeopardize operations in those areas. We will not be in a hurry to say the number of arrests or those that were taken out during operations because it would jeopardize what the task force is doing and there is ample time for us to count our successes at the moment. But what we have done so far is indeed reassuring and a strong impetus for better operations in the future,” he said.
Just 23 days after the report on the arrest of suspects allegedly involved in the killing of Hon. Okoye and his aide, native doctors in the area have fled the senatorial district following confessional statements made by those arrested so far. A 70-year-old doctor, Chukwujekwu Onuorah from Unubi town in Nnewi North Local Government Area was arrested in Awka after he had fled his home when security operatives came for him in connection with the beheading of Hon. Okoye and his aide.
According to one of the security operatives, most native doctors have fled their homes because some of them that we arrested have been providing names of their colleagues who are involved in the killings and kidnapping of people.
“We went to those areas and they abandoned their shrines and ran away and those things have no power only to be used as psychological ploy to instill fear on the natives and they in turn use the natives as informants and we have some of them in our custody today,” he said.
Chief Press Secretary to Soludo, Mr. Christian Aburime, said that Anambra State government remains resolute in restoring the security of lives and property in Anambra South Senatorial District, and so far government has recorded success in many areas.
Governor Soludo made it clear in his last broadcast that he has exploited all peaceful means of resolving the security situation and he also granted amnesty to some of those people in prison custody and he also urged them to turn in their arms yet they have continued.
Confirming this major achievement in the area of security, the Anambra state Police Public Relations Officer (Ikenga) said that those arrested have been helping the Joint Task Force on security with useful information. Similarly the native doctor implicated in the killing of the state lawmaker has made confessional statements, naming over 16-member of his killer gang.
The native doctor also named major hide outs and camps where kidnap victims are being kept and at the moment more reinforcement of officers and men of the Joint Task Force on security JTF has arrived Anambra and has commenced operations. This is as the state police command rescued four kidnap victims from the den of bandits which led to the killing of a kingpin popularly known as Sampolo during exchange of gun fire.
Continuing Tochukwu Ikenga in a release said: Based on intelligence gathered which indicated the location of a Kidnapped victim at Neni in Anaocha local government area, the police operatives working with the Vigilante stormed the location on Sunday 5th June 2022 rescued the victims and arrested one Emeka who was suspected of complicity in the crime. Upon interrogation he confessed to the crime detectives to the hide out of the gang in Oba town in Idemili South Local Government Area where detectives engaged the gangsters in a shootout.
The gang leader, one Chinedu Ajaogu (aka Sampolo) was gunned down and five others including their Native Doctor were arrested for interrogation and prosecution.
The command recovered arms, uniforms assorted arms and one SUV snatched from a Reverend Father in Awgbu last month. It is being posited that the issue of insecurity is one that would determine what ever progress or success that Governor Soludo may record between now and his one year in office and the governor do not seem to be oblivious of this fact.
Obiogbolu told New Telegraph that the war against terror in Anambra State is one that requires the duty of not only government officials but the people, adding that any assistance or useful suggestions would be welcomed. He noted that the issue of security should not be something to play politics about but one that would rub off positivity on all and sundry when the fight is won as the governor celebrates his 100 days in office.