New Telegraph

February 24, 2024

Anambra: Echoes of politics at police zonal command launch

OKEY MADUFORO reports on the political intrigues that characterised the recent commissioning of Police Zone 13 Command headquarters in Anambra State

It was echoes of bitter political rivalries during the recent commissioning of the headquarters of the Zone 13 Command of the Nigeria Police Force in Ukpo, Dunekofia Local Government Area of Anambra State. The zone is the second police zonal command in the South-East after Zone 9 Police Command, Umuahia, Abia State.

The new zone has Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi states under it, while Zone 9, Umuahia, now Imo and Abia states, respectively as its area of jurisdiction. The success story of Zone 13 is ultimately linked to philanthropist and oil magnet, Prince Authur Eze.

Indeed, it was a day the drums were rolled out for celebration and it was expected that the governors of Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra states (the chief host) would grace the occasion. But in what appeared a paradox of fate, none of the governors were present, not even Governor Willie Obiano, who is known for his unquenchable nag for celebrating every development that comes to his state with relish just as he did during the commissioning of the Court of Appeal in Awka, early this year.

The absence of the three governors, no doubt, raised moral questions as to why it has to happen that way. Only the Secretary to the Ebonyi State Government (SSG) was on ground to represent his boss, Governor Dave Umahi. Reporters were neither told of any delegation nor representation from Enugu State, while Governor Obiano was said to have been represented by his Special Adviser on Security Matters, Chief Chikaodi Anara. Throughout the occasion, the masters of ceremony failed to recognize the representative of the governor, Anara, but for the introduction made by Ozo Austine Ndigwe few minutes to the end of the function.

It was gathered that there were inhouse challenges faced over the establishment of the police zonal command as Enugu and Ebonyi states allegedly contended that it should not be cited in Anambra State. Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Mr. Celestine Okoye, who represented the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, apparently confirmed this in his address. “Before this occasion, there were lot of attacks and all manner of petitions against the establishing of the zone in all forms and manner, but since Mr. President has given the directive nobody can stop it and all that is over now,” he said.

Okoye went further to make yet another pronouncement about the Police Mobile Force Base 54, which its ground breaking was performed two years ago by the Inspector General of police at Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area, when he promised the people of Nsugbe that the institution would be built in their community, hence “disclaiming” the ongoing project for the base at Aguleri.

Prince Eze, who attracted the po-lice zonal headquarters tried without end to explain to the obviously perplexed audience that the choice of Ukpo his home town was central. According to him “Ukpo town is Central to Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi states as the three states can easily access it.”

Reports equally had it that Enugu State was touted as host of the Police Zone 13 headquarters since it is the capital of the South-East and central between Anambra and Ebonyi states, but superior forces at the corridors of power gained the upper hand. When scores of reporters posed questions at Anara, on whether the purported rift between Governor Obiano and Prince Eze and informed the former’s absence from the event, he said that he was not aware of any face-off between the duo. His words: “I am not aware of that and I am hearing this for the first time.

Yes, I am representing the governor and we thank the President and the Inspector General of Police for this facility. This adds to the success story of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration in the area of security of lives and property in Anambra State which has not been there. “What we had in the past was more of the Hobbesian state of nature, which was said to be brutish and raw and the governor will continue to do more in that area.” Anara’s response indeed left much to be desired as tongues went wagging that it was a calculated attempt at spitting the governor by some known forces in Anambra polity.

The Inspector General Police may have played safe from the controversy by not being present at the occasion in order not to be part of the confusion after enjoying the patronage of Governor Obiano five months ago, when the state hosted the 2020 Nigerian Police Games.

It was said that DIG Okoye, a son of Awka town had to represent police boss, hence creating a soft landing for him and allowing the controversy to remain an Anambra affair. The occasion was further seen by some political observers as a prelude to the plot to stop the governor from anointing his successor come 2022. Those who hold this view opined that with the Police Zone 13 headquarters in the hands of the governor’s traducers, the fate of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State now hangs in the balance.

In the annals of electioneering and politicking in Anambra State, the police have been accused of playing remote and manifest roles in the success of any eventual candidate that emerges as governor without the governor, who is the chief security officer of the state not been informed about the redeployment.

Even three weeks before the last governorship election in the state, Obiano’s security aides were withdrawn. It took the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to restore Obiano’s police security personnel after the then embattled governor had complained to the President about how unsafe his office and life was as at then.

This is indeed true of Anambra’s brand of ambush politics perpetrated by political opponents who claim to enjoy the monopoly of police control at the peak of politicking. Police security personnel of opponents are always withdrawn or detachment of police officers and men drafted from Abuja to place opponents on house arrest. Former Anambra governor, Senator Chris Ngige, felt the impact of such power-play in July 10, 2003, when he was allegedly kidnapped by a team of policemen led by AIG Raphael Igeh (now late), and in 2004, when his security details were taken, a development which paved the way for an army of hoodlums to storm Anambra and unleashed terror on the state, burning down the state House of Assembly, government house, Anambra Broadcasting Corporation (ABS) as well as the Anambra State Independent National Electoral Commission (ANSIEC) complex in what is still known today as Anambra mayhem. Besides the politicians, the religious community in Anambra had its own fair share of the controversy over the commissioning of the police zonal command headquarters when what was expected to be an interdenominational service before became an issue.

They argued that other Christian denominations ought to have been invited to join in the service lamenting that it was not done and in the history of Anambra politics, it has always been tailored between the Roman Catholic and the Anglican Communion hence throwing up fresh question if the Anglican Church has resolved to take over the realms of power at the government house Awka. The governor on his part is said to be maintaining studied silence over the flame being fanned through the commissioning of police zonal command and even his media aides have chosen not to react.

It is being touted that from now on till the end of Obiano’s tenure, similar incidents or worse scenarios are bound to play out until the governorship election is over. Political Adviser to Obiano, Barr Ifeatu Obiokoye, however, dismissed these fears, contending that the governor is in firm control of the state. He further noted that it is a welcome development that the Zone 13 Police headquarters is in Anambra State, warning that people should not play politics with the development.

He also noted that Governor Obiano is at peace with all and sundry in Anambra State, adding that his administration cuts across all political parties in the state, which have been supportive to his administration. “Governor Obiano is a peace loving man and even when some elements try to frustrate him, he takes it as they come and he comes out unscathed and better than he was before.

Since the creation of Anambra State, no governor has enjoyed the support Obiano is enjoying across political parties and religious organizations. He has always respected every politician in the state including those people they say are against him and that was why he got re-elected for the second term in office” he said. Obiokoye might have calmed frayed nerves, but the turbulent waters of Anambra politics is one that its second name is uncertainty.

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