The unending reports of killings in the South East particularly Anambra State remain worrisome, not just because it is making the area the epic centre of violence; but also because the perpetrators remain unknown, at least to the public. There is a need for urgent action to unravel the identity of the murderers and bring them to book. It is no longer sufficient to simply point accusing fingers at the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), more so as the organisation’s officers keep denying responsibility. What is germane really is for whoever is carrying out the dastardly acts to be made to answer for the misdeeds. It should matter less what organisation such criminals are representing.
The authorities should be concerned about the ethnic sentiments being read into the killings, and the potential danger so signified as some sections of the country may be tempted to carry out reprisal attacks. The series of attacks in Anambra in recent times tend to indicate that neither the state government nor the police is on top of the situation. Even the amnesty to the killers offered by Governor Chukwuma Soludo shortly after he was sworn in as governor, has turned out to be a disappointment to Anambra people and Nigerians, given that the “unknown gunmen” remained largely unknown and subjects of speculations; and it is a bit of a misnomer to grant amnesty to faceless people. Also, what is the grouse of the gunmen? Are their demands better pursued by killing innocent citizens? Tackling insecurity ought to be the starting point for strengthening the peace and progress of any state, Anambra inclusive.
Not too long ago, Governor Chukwuma Soludo shut down the 21 local councils in the state due to the insecurity threat. Currently, the air is filled with apprehension following the recent killing of a woman, Fatimah and her four children as well as the beheading of Mr. Okechukwu Okoye, a lawmaker who represented the Aguta 2 Constituency in the state Assembly. According to reports, Okoye was abducted on a Sunday alongside his aide Cyril Chiegboka while returning from a function and a week later, on Saturday, his head was found without the body at Nnobi in Idemili South Local Council Area.
At various times, the rampaging violence by gunmen in the South East including Anambra has been variously attributed to cultism or IPOB, a group routing for a separate state. But the attributions appear general and have been done without proper investigation. Initially, when the uprising was brewing sometime in 2020, it was rumoured to be linked with the then-upcoming governorship election in the state; but the elections have come and gone with no sign of the violence abating. Clearly, it is the duty of the government to investigate and fish out who is really responsible and bring such to the book. Regrettably, the police, DSS or other security agencies have been unable to unravel the mystery of the unknown gunmen in the region. Curiously, security personnel are not spared by the unknown gunmen.
Although the grudges of IPOB are not new, their denial of involvement in the killing of the lawmaker, Fatima, and her children and some other gruesome killings have become constant and should not be ignored. It is not unlikely, of course, that IPOB has been factionalised or highjacked by some elements, thus giving criminals the opportunity to commit crimes and hide under the umbrella of the organisation. The killing of the lawmaker, like the gruesome murder of Akunyili sometimes back, as well as some other victims, gives the lie to suggestions of ethnic or religious cleansing.
However, saddled with a heavy burden of making ends meet in very difficult circumstances, the ordinary man on the street is unlikely to have the patience to apportion blame selectively; or to fully appreciate the failure of governance in the entire phenomenon. It is therefore left for the government to prove its mettle by practically providing for the security and welfare of Nigerians, and ensuring that law and order prevail in the society. The unknown gunmen killings in the South-East should in no way be an excuse for anybody to target the Igbo in any part of the country.
The seeming dilemma in the South East is a pointer to the fact that the elite and political leaders have lost touch with the people. The widening gap between the rich and aggrieved poor in the country is rearing its ugly head in the type of violence that society is exposed to in recent times. Therefore, political leaders have to rise above mischief and find a way to calm the youth down.
It is lamentable that leadership in the South East has taken a nosedive and that the people are more divided than ever. The governors, including Soludo, need assistance and support from traditional rulers and other stakeholders to stop the tide of violence in the South East. Also, it is not enough for both the state and Federal governments to express alarms about the killings or offer a huge amount of money to unravel the killers. It is their duty to find a lasting solution and to stop the killings. The Anambra people want to see what the government is doing to arrest insecurity before the situation gets out of hand. It is all about the security and welfare of the people, which is the primary purpose of government. The unknown gunmen should not be stronger than the apparatuses of state security.