This is the most difficult opinion article I have written in my entire career as a writer and I take no pleasure in saying this. Difficult because I enjoy painting glowing pictures of my town, most people do.
Now jarred by recent ugly events unfolding before my eyes, framing this opinion becomes a difficult task. And no matter how it is framed, the truth is that peace has left Enugwu- Agidithe beautiful, and the town is now enveloped by violence and uncertainty orchestrated by land bandits whose speciality is auctioning ancestral lands to strange people without the mandate of the community.
Enugwu Agidi-the beautiful, (Obodo- Oma) is a small hilly community in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The pouncing land bandits have successfully overpowered the town using raw violence while aided by the police who look the other way as terror is unleashed on hapless villagers. Yes, you heard me well!
The local police that are supposed to protect the people due to self-interest and corruption have allowed themselves to be compromised by these criminal elements who share their illicit proceeds with them.
According to available crime records, Enugwu-Agidi is currently topping the charts for all the wrong reasons in Njikoka Local Government Area. The once peaceful community is now the thriving headquarters of violence, kidnapping, cultism, illicit-drug distribution, armed robbery and all manners of insecurity.
Due to recent violence unleashed by armed hoodlums, the town has become a ghost of itself and economic activities grounded to zero. Youths, who tried to push back on the new crime wave and crime lords, were marked down. Many were inflicted with various degrees of injuries.
About 27 persons were wounded and hospitalized in various hospitals. The Igwe and Okpalanriam III was assaulted and his palace over-run by the hoodlums. The Igwe and his Onowu escaped death by the whiskers and are currently living in fear of their lives.
Many youths have been forced to flee the community. The women and the children, who stayed behind, live in palpable fear of their lives and on the edge as the hoodlums go house to house in the dead of the night hunting down their victims and inflicting injuries on them.
The most pathetic of the cases was that of the Caretaker Committee President General of the Enugwu Agidi Brotherly Union (EBU). EBU is the town union government charged with the development and governance of the community. The Caretaker Government was appointed by the Anambra State government to supervise the affairs of the town for a brief period pending the conduct of a General Election.
Upon resumption, the Caretaker Government, headed by Hon. Ndubisi Obijiofor, was greeted by avalanche of petitions by people whose lands were forcefully taken away and sold-off by the land bandits.
Most of these complainants were widows and poor people who rely on those lands for sustenance.
To restore semblance of order and sanity, the Caretaker Government held wide consultations after which it issued a streamlined process that will allow verification and authenticity of ownership of any vast plots of land exceeding four plots being put out for sale by any member of the community.
The Town Union also temporarily banned deployment of caterpillars into the community for the purpose of clearing bushlands without authorization by it because what the bandits do, is to sneak in caterpillars in the dead of the night to clear targeted undeveloped parcels of land and in the process purposely uproot ancient landmarks so as to confuse existing boundaries.
For having the audacity to halt indiscriminate land sales, the bandits abducted the President General in broad daylight, and in the presence of security agents beat him to stupor, inflicted machete cuts on him, stripped him naked and paraded him round the market square as a trophy.
That’s how the new lords of the manor in Enugwu Agidi snatched the peace and control of the town. Like a shark that has tasted blood, the bandits roared. They upped their game to take over control of the town through intimidations, threats, violence and physical attacks.
Daughters and wives of their perceived enemies were either raped or threatened with rape; they purportedly installed one of their own as the new President General, the main kingpin installed himself and parades himself as ‘Igwe’ and other renegades as Onowu and ‘Cabinet Members’ in clear violation of the Anambra State Chieftaincy Edict.
These elements are not faceless. They are known to both the community and chummy with the police who are protective of them and has made them invincible and above the law. As usual the community has filed fresh reports over the recent incidents to all relevant authorities and hoping for respite.
For the records, all past reports about the activities of these individuals and the rising incidence of violent crimes in Enugwu Agidi to the police end up as cold cases. In some cases, the complainants are turned into accused just to frustrate their case.
According to a report filed by an online news media, ‘247 Reports’ on the Enugwu Agidi crisis, “numerous reports to the police have failed because a very senior retired police officer is allegedly one of the backbones behind the criminals.
The pay royalty to him and in exchange he protects them, and each time they were reported to the police, the said retired senior police officer squashes it from his end”. ‘247 Reports’ further reported that the said “retired Senior Police officer influenced the posting of the Divisional Police Officer who is not only his kinsman but does his bidding by giving free hand to the bandits to continue with their nefarious operations unchallenged”.
Now, the emboldened bandits have expanded their crime ring from not just land banditry but to illicit drug distribution, serial rapes, robberies and abductions.
The allegation against the police and the alleged influence of the retired senior police officer in the ongoing criminal enterprise in Enugwu Agidi and environ is very weighty and should be thoroughly investigated by the authorities to ascertain the veracity.
The nation is here reminded that high-ranking serving police officers in the past had been arrested and were successfully prosecuted for aiding and abetting various crimes including armed robbery and kidnappings.
The End SARS protest, which engulfed the nation and nearly brought it down, wasn’t just about police SARS brutality but also about the public perception of the police as bad, corrupt and oppressive.
The legacy, which the current Inspector General of Police must strive to leave behind even if it remains him a day in office, is to restore public confidence, especially the confidence of law-abiding citizens in the police as their friend, and not a police force that is chummy and protective of criminals.
This opinion article is an appeal to the Presidency, the National Security Adviser, the DSS and the Inspector General of Police to order an independent investigation into Enugu-Agidi crisis as there may be a nexus in the crisis with the rising crime wave in Anambra State and South-East.
I further appeal to the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano who had made a success story of security to look into the ugly situation in Enugwu Agidi. The people are in pains and in fear.
The more the nightmare lingers, the more things will get awry. If anything, un-toward happens to the peace of Enugwu Agidi again or to any of her good people, the state and the law should know the direction to look.
Law-abiding citizens have right to live in peace and to be protected by the law.
No one or group of persons should constitute themselves into nuisance to the extent of overpowering a whole community and its constituted authorities. Enough is enough.