South-East residents on Sunday said they have been staying at home every Monday because they can no longer count on security agencies to protect them.
Despite the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) calling off its Monday sit-at-home directive, which it introduced to protest the detention of its leader Nnamdi Kanu, residents have been afraid to come out on Mondays for fear of being attacked.
Anambra State Coordinator, Transform Nigeria Movement TNM, Comrade Obi Ochije, told our correspondent that IPOB’s activities had instilled fear in residents.
He said the people were also disenchanted with the attitude of some of the policemen who, according to him, extort money from those they are supposed to protect.
He said people prefer to stay alive in their homes than coming out to be killed by hoodlums.
A worker in one of the ministries, who did not want to be named, said Police had failed the people.
“We went to make a complaint to the police recently and they told us: ‘You people clap when IPOB kill our men’.”
The police spokesman in Anambra, Ikenga Tochukwu, said people still had confidence in the police to protect them as they still receive calls for help.
He said despite the attacks by some miscreants, the police would continue to protect lives and property.
But, a senior police officer, who did not want to be named, said the police have failed the people.
“If you want to know the truth, let me tell you. Our men have failed the people through the way they brazenly collect money from the residents.
“People don’t respect the police and they talk to them nowadays anyhow they like. Motorists and traders don’t fear the police anymore because of extortion.
“You hardly see any policeman in uniform anymore…everyone wants to be alive, including policemen because they are also humans.
“But, one thing is clear, the masses listen more to IPOB nowadays than the police,” the officer said.
Residents of Enugu State said they chose to stay at home on Mondays to avoid any trouble that may despite the assurances by the state police command.
They said they did not have faith in the ability of the police to protect them should any trouble erupt.
Rather, they said, police would arrest innocent people and parade them as trouble makers.
A resident, Kene Unogu, said: “This whole fear is heightened by security operatives. Most of them are always afraid of seeing people stay in clusters.
“So, even policemen are happy that the people don’t come out on that day.”
Another resident, Tony Aja said: “I stay away on Monday, not because of my loyalty to anyone, but my safety.”
The spokesman of the Enugu state police command, Daniel Ndukwe, could not take his calls to respond to people’s concerns when our correspondent called his phone line.
President General of Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), Goodluck Egwu Ibem, said residents do not count on security agencies to protect them because of their insincerity, corruption and rights abuses.
“No right-thinking person will trust security agencies that kill the citizens they are paid to protect. Even if IPOB members come out on the streets to ask people to come out, residents will not still come. That is the true position presently,” he said
A retired civil servant, Benjamine Nwosu, said so many people were arrested on trumped-up charges of been IPOB members.
“You are not safe on a sit-at-home day if you are outside your home. People who even sit outside drinking end up being arrested by the police and they will be accused of one thing or the other,” Nwosu said.
A lawyer and President of Igbo National Movement (INM), Anthony Okolo-Olisa, believes the people no longer accept federal authorities as legitimate and capable of protecting lives and property.
The Imo Command spokesman, Michael Abattam, said the police would continue to do their job.
“Our campaign is people should go about their lawful duties and should stop obeying illegalities because anything that is coming from bandits is illegitimate. So, somebody who doesn’t have authority, and you are listening to such people, it is absurd.
“We have increased the number of policemen on the streets to forestall any unnecessary attack. We have increased our patrol.
“We now have robust patrol teams within the state to make sure that people go about their lawful duties without fear of molestation. We want to make sure policemen are seen within every pole.
“All these are measures to curtail whatever any miscreant who wants to take the law into his hands,” Abattam said.
Ebonyi Governor David Umahi said IPOB’s activities have resulted in federal agencies issuing travel advisories to their staff against travelling to the Southeast.
He spoke while addressing stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abakaliki, the state capital, ahead of the forthcoming local government congress.
He urged the people of the state and the region to rise and join the government in resisting the destruction of the region’s economy.
He said: “Southeast is being gradually destroyed. We have to fight it. A lot of federal agencies have placed the Southeast and Ebonyi on red alert.
“For example, the Aviation ministry, it took my going to Abuja for them to agree to come for inspection and to give the necessary approvals for the airport.
“Other ministries and agencies have placed Southeast on red alert. It is the highest level of foolishness. I want us to all help.
“The other Monday many civil servants did not go to work. We decided not to pay them but we later forgave them but tomorrow (today) anybody that doesn’t go to work will cease to be a civil servant.
“Security agencies must start parading everywhere. Let everybody come out. Let us come out and save our dear state and Southeast,” Umahi said.
Despite the governor’s appeals and warnings, many residents said they would remain indoors for fear of being attacked.
A civil servant, who did not want to be named, said: “It is easier for them to give a directive. I would rather lose my job than lose my life.
“How can I come out when there is no police presence in my area? Do they want me to be attacked and maybe killed?. I won’t try it”.
A trader, Mr James Okorie, said people were reluctant to go out because they still doubt that the suspension of the sit-at-home came from IPOB.
He said: “Remember, the week the suspension was announced, there were reports of some attacks in some parts of Southeast.
“Before that, the first week of the sit-at-home, many were killed and properties destroyed for flouting it despite government assurance of security. This was after news that the sit-at-home was cancelled by Kanu’s brother.
“So, people don’t trust the government to protect them and they still doubt whether the suspension is from IPOB while others believe the group is facationalised with one side in support of the suspension and the other against it.” – The Nation.