Tears, fear as ‘unknown gunmen’ defy Soludo’s solution, unleash terror on Anambra
Despite frantic efforts by Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, to restore peace and security in the state, the activities of ‘unknown gunmen’ terrorising the state seem not to be abating, write LAWRENCE NJOKU (Southeast Bureau Chief) and UZOMA NZEAGWU (Awka)
Gunshot sounds are increasingly becoming familiar to many residents of Anambra State. As if the trauma that arises from constantly hearing gunshots is not enough, the firers cause arson. They also kidnap. The resultant effect is that their action has returned Anambra to the status of a state under siege. Nowhere is safe anymore. Daily and weekly, stories of attacks on police stations, local council headquarters and other public institutions, killings and kidnappings are heard. Those who perpetrate these acts do not kidnap humans alone; they also ‘kidnap’ vehicles and demand ransom in return.
What surprises residents is the level of confidence these marauders attach to their notorious act. Brazenly, and dressed in black attires, with guns fitted to their chests and ready to fire, they move in choice cars unhindered to their various targets irrespective of the time of the day. They don’t leave any target without inflicting pains, dispossessing people of breadwinners and means of livelihood, among others.
This is indeed not what the two-month old administration of Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo bargained for. Soludo had promised goodies for the people of Anambra State. But since he took over the reins of power on March 17, this year, one singular challenge that has distorted his programmes and activities is the reign of ‘unknown gunmen’. As if the headquarters of crime has relocated to the state, certain places in the state have become near impassable due the activities of these marauders.
If Soludo had not prepared to govern, perhaps his administration wouldn’t have been able to make the modest imprints the state has so far witnessed under his watch with the scale of insecurity bedeviling it. He knew from the onset that there was insecurity in the state. On March 1, few days to his swearing in, no fewer than 12 people were killed in the state. But not ready to succumb to the antics of the criminal elements, he quickly moved to address the situation when he assumed office by offering amnesty to those perpetrating crimes in the state. He offered the hoodlums an olive branch while presenting his inaugural speech. He had asked them to down their weapons and embrace dialogue, promising to rehabilitate those that would heed the call.
The governor, who condemned the incessant sit-at-home in the Southeast region, reeled out figures to justify how the economy of the region had suffered from the action, promising to interface with other governors in the region to ensure the release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, who is in detention.
On Wednesday, April 6, Soludo further demonstrated his intention to restore peace to Anambra State by constituting a 15-member Committee on Truth, Justice and Peace.
A statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, had explained that the purpose of the committee was to seek a restorative justice approach for truth-telling or real facts, for the healing of the victims of the violence.
It further stated that the committee would account for the responsibility and accountability of the actors, conditional mercy for the repentant perpetrators, restitution for certain losses and rehabilitation of the perpetrators, for the overall aim of restoration of peace and justice as well as the promotion of development in the state and the region/Nigeria.
“The terms of reference for the committee are to identify the remote and immediate causes of the agitations, restiveness, violence and armed struggle in the South East since 1999.
“Document victims/circumstances of death, brutality and incarceration.
“Identify stakeholders and groups who have played critical roles in the agitations and conflicts, their roles, capabilities and demands.
“Address any other issue(s) that may be germane to unraveling the extent of the crisis and charting the roadmap for the future.
“Make recommendations for sustainable peace and security in Anambra state/South-East,” Chukwulobelu said.
The statement added that the committee would have a direct reporting line to the governor or his designee and would be provided with administrative support.