Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, a rights group, has condemned in strong terms the recent attacks and killings of security personnel by some yet to be named diurnal and nocturnal criminal gangs as well as a surge in cult-related activities within Abia state and its environs.
FENRAD decries the senseless killing of two army officers in Okohia (not Asa as earlier reported in some media quarters) of Ukwa West LGA in Abia state whereupon the killer(s) made away with the slain soldiers’ weapons – rifles and left some others wounded. This act has no place in justice as there is neither iota nor grain of justification whatsoever for killing an army officer on duty in peace time. Having stated that, FENRAD bemoans also the killing of a police officer (of the rank of inspector) at Okagwe junction in Ohafia Local Government Area, incident of which occurred on Monday, September 7, 2020 when some police officers were taking cover during rainfall. FENRAD prays for the quick recovery of various security agents receiving treatment as a result of gunshot wounds and repose of the souls of those who died in this tragic condition.
FENRAD believes in peaceful relationship between all citizens – armed and unarmed – so while it condemned the extrajudicial killings that attended the lockdown protocol of the Covid-19 pandemic it equally finds it appropriate to condemn the killings of armed personnel in the line of duty which looks like a reverse of the lockdown trend. This current security state is a growing concern.
While these attacks against those empowered by law to protect the people are in themselves condemnable, worst is that they could escalate tension and worsen civil-military relations which does no single Abian any good nor does it portend a win-win situation for citizens, security agencies and the state government. FENRAD wants the state government under the leadership of His Excellency Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, Ph.D, to do the needful by deescalating any likely tension so that the state does not descend into a Hobbesian state where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.
Condemnable also is the surge in cult activities within Abia, especially in Aba environs. Residents of Ngwa Road in Ndiegoro have known no relative peace for sometime. The trend had seen and suffered bags, phones and items snatching and sometimes harassment, but it has now segued into inter-cult rivals with many reported dead or missing. FENRAD, after serious assessment, came to the conviction that the current spite in intra/inter-cult killings though dates back years ago could not be unconnected with the closure of tertiary institutions due to Covid-19 outbreak as idle students have become devil’s workshop. This, though sad, FENRAD believes, can be salvaged.
The horribly gory scenes of Abians killed in public places including barbershop and pubs as a result cult fracas is not synonymous with the core ethoses and ideals of the state nor its foundation. Also on the rise is kidnapping. FENRAD having sighted barrage of releases from the state government and officials, feels there could be way out.
Though the state had placed bounty on the head of the killer(s) of the armed security agents or on any vital information leading to their arrest and prosecution FENRAD believes this alone will not solve the problem.
The better part of wisdom is in the state government setting up an interministerial task team to address the growing menace of insecurity statewide. As the state government had earlier posited through an earlier release that the “individuals” and “corporate organizations” should take their safety and custody seriously, it also bears repeating in the same measure that a task team to involve the people, traditional rulers, religious heads, heads of security agencies within the state (to include Commissioner of Police, Brigade Commander of 14 brigade Ohafia, State Commandant of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps as well as the Commissioner for Homeland Security) and some other representatives of the state government is set up to create a necessary platform capable of creating the needed strategic roadmap that can tackle insecurity within the confines of relative peculiarities of Abia state and parts thereof. Security is a collective responsibility and so the people must make their own design – input – in the security architecture of their state.
Again, there need to be improvement in areas of intelligence such that crimes are not only timely detected but preempted as well. FENRAD urges the state government and security agencies to deploy intelligence infrastructure on detecting the source of arms proliferation into the state and neutralise such corridors and axes. If not so, organised crime may be far from controlling and containing.
Various flashpoints of criminal and cult activities need to be brought within the radar of security agencies and even though access to some of these places may create problems, rapidity and immediacy in response is required through heightened mobilization and logistical supoort.
Finally, FENRAD calls for investigation of the killings of those who put their lives on the line just to protect others on daily basis. When this is done those found guilty should be made to face prosecutorial trial. No life, FENRAD thinks, is expendable and none discardable.