OPINION: ARE WE WAITING FOR ANOTHER BAKASSI IN ABIA BEFORE WE CAN ACT? – By. Ferdinand Ekeoma
Abia, especially the city of Aba is under serious siege.
Two reported cases of Armed Robbery and kidnapping have consumed two innocent lives within 48 hours in Aba, while the person said to have been taken hostage is still missing.
It was also reported that a young lady was fatally shot by hoodlums at Azikiwe road while being robbed of her laptop.
Some commentators had also reported that the same spot where the ex Enyimba footballer, Christian Jacobs a.k.a Nkita Ara was shot and killed had witnessed a robbery case two days before he fell victim.
The pictures of these innocent brethren pass a message of sorrow and sadness to family, friends and humanity as a whole.
During the week preceding the just concluded general election, many lives, including those of security agents were lost to Armed Robbers, Kidnappers and Political Thugs who were mopping up arms for election violence.
I visited a popular hotel in Aba during the period under review, and it happened to be the day some gallant mobile police officers brought the corpse of a slain Mobile Police Officer from the mortuary to the hotel for last respect. The popular slain officer whom many attested was a gentleman, was killed in broad day light by assailants who stormed the hotel, shot him at the security post, and made away with his A.K 47 riffle.
While it must be admitted that, beyond Abia, heinous crimes and criminality are presently sweeping across the length and breadth of the nation, it must be stated that visionary and serious minded leaders with sense of duty in some states have been adopting strategies and deploying mechanism aimed at nipping the menace of these crimes in the bud.
In every part of the world, government is always on the lead in unfolding the required master plan for curbing insecurity. This is where Abia state government is expected to act, while the citizens would be expected to collaborate and assist the government in this direction.
I still recall how Aba came under similar siege between early and late nineties.
Armed robbers, cultists and Mafia groups took over the city. Robbing traders and business men and women in broad day light, imposing charges on visiting business men and women, raping innocent ladies and students, and brutalizing young men they branded “Jew men”.
While the hoodlums wrecked havoc freely and unchallenged, the economy of the city dwindled. At a point, people started deserting Aba; because the government was clueless.
Some people, especially the audacious and less privileged ones knew it was impossible for everyone to abandon their businesses and run out of Aba. Where would all be running to?
The atrocities of these Robbers and Mafia got to the apogee, and the criminals almost became invisible; sadly, the government remained docile and clueless, except the police’ formation of ” Operation Bang” and Operation Fire for Fire”, which Aba people renamed “Operation Water for Water” because of its inability to arrest the orgy of violence and criminality ravaging the city.
Left with no other choice, except to protect themselves by themselves, the people of Aba embraced the philosophy of “In extreme cases, extreme measures are taken”. In November, 1998, traders of Ariaria market came together and formed the dreaded ” Bakassi Boys”.
I wouldn’t want to tell detailed stories of the activities of Bakassi, many of which were horrible, but one generally accepted truism is that, after initially getting the city rid of criminals by killing many criminals and forcing others into exile, the Bakassi Boys deviated and became bigger threat to security of lives and property, than the criminals they were constituted to fight.
Today, people are being robbed in broad day light and sometimes murdered as witnessed in the above mentioned cases, and some misguided young men who call themselves “Aro Boys” (Cultists) are constituting unimaginable nuisance on the streets of Aba, especially at areas with bad roads, sadly, government seems disconnected from the true realities on ground.
Whether we accept the realities on ground or not, the bitter truth is that, criminals, I mean violent and brutal criminals are on the loose and are very determined to overrun Abia, especially, the city of Aba.
Some of the people who have lost their lives to these criminals are just like you and I, they weren’t more vulnerable or less human like us. Some were the target, while some fell victim accidentally. Some didn’t die because they attached more importance to their items like phones, bags, or even money, but because as humans, the penchant to involuntarily react with resistance when attacked in that manner would always be there, so they did, and of course, their killers struck. This happens every day, so if you think you are very careful or very safe in your comfort zone, think about your children, family members, relations, friends and loved ones; they could fall victim.
No body deserves to die that cheap, especially in the hands of useless and hopeless criminals, but with the security situation on ground, almost everyone is vulnerable to these marauding murderers.
Just a few years ago, Kidnappers and armed robbers overran the city of Aba. Dozens of men and women, as well as children lost their lives.
The kidnappers and armed robbers didn’t wake up to become so powerful and achieve such satanic agenda overnight, but the failure of government to tame them at the early stage made it possible for them to grow and become such uncontrollable monsters.
Even though federal government later intervened when it became a huge national scandal, and tamed the criminals, but that was after they had wasted lives and property in large quantum, and crippled economic activities. For example, I know of a senior friend from Imo but resident in Aba then who fled Aba and relocated to Owerri for fear of being kidnapped.
He later built a factory he originally planned to build in Aba, in Owerri. The factory in question has nothing less than 300 employees today. That’s what Aba lost to insecurity.
We can’t continue this way, the people are growing impatient, especially when every junction in Aba has a police or military checkpoint where motorists are either extorted or brutalized, while there’s graveyard silence from those who should do something.This is not fair at all!
Should the government and security agents wait for residents to completely lose their patience and take laws into their own hands before they act? Are we waiting for another Bakassi in Abia before we can protect our people and our state.
Let’s not forget what Fidel Castro said, that, “It’s unlawful to be law abiding in a state where anarchy exists”. Abia is sliding into anarchy and it’s our duty to halt it, before our people become anarchists in search of self security
Let’s collectively do the needful to arrest this sad development.
God bless Abia state, and may he kindly ptotect us all and grant the souls of our departed brethren eternal repose.