Residents in Umuneochi Local Government Area of Abia State are urging the state government to revamp the security infrastructure in a bid to quell the escalating incidents of kidnapping and other egregious crimes taking place daily along the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway.
Several locals, speaking to journalists in individual sessions, accused the security forces, particularly soldiers, of abetting the alarming rise in kidnappings within their community. They contend that there is strong evidence suggesting that the soldiers in their area have been compromised by the kidnappers.
The allegations were fueled by a recent incident where a pastor was abducted along the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, right after soldiers reportedly ordered the police officers on duty to vacate the scene – the exact spot where the pastor was taken.
Ekwerike, a local resident, claimed that some soldiers were assisting the kidnappers who are terrorizing the area.
The community has appealed to Abia State Governor, Alex Otti, to withdraw all Police and Military personnel from their vicinity, proposing instead the deployment of the state’s newly formed “Operation Crush” to tackle the issue.
The locals insist that the kidnapping operations are being executed by herdsmen disguised as cow traders in the Gariki Market at Umuneochi, allegedly with the support of soldiers. They are skeptical that sending a Special Police Team from the Abia Commissioner of Police or the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Zone-9 would suffice to resolve the situation.
The locals have witnessed police officers ordered to abort their mission upon nearing the crime scene by soldiers claiming jurisdiction over the area.
Strains of desperation were evident as one resident said, “Our community is suffering as these herdsmen and their associates have transformed Isuochi, Lekwesi, and Leru communities into inaccessible zones for both visitors and locals.”
Ekwerike further revealed that the culprits abduct victims along the Ndiawa Road in Isuochi and other Umunneochi roads, then under heavy arms, transport them at night towards neighboring towns in Ebonyi State, where negotiations continue.
A recent report from X via @Spotlight Abby revealed that the Joint Task Force, led by the Nigerian Army, arrested eight kidnappers in Isuochi along Lomara Nneato in Umuneochi LGA of Abia State yesterday, of whom two are from Ebonyi, five are Fulanis, and one is from Ndiawa Isuochi.
SOURCE: Business Day
IMAGE: X: @Sportlight Abby