The armed gang then created a new operational camp in the Unubi bush in Nnewi South local government area of Anambra State. When the gunmen made that axis their hideout and set up similar camps inside Orsumoghu and Lulu forests, commuters abandoned the route after many people had either been abducted, dispossessed or murdered.
It was for these reasons that Governor Chukwuma Soludo imposed curfew on the entire Anambra South senatorial zone and banned the use of motorcycles at certain times in the area.
Soludo who was seriously challenged by the gunmen, swore never to surrender the state to them, insisting that his administration must reclaim and make Anambra a liveable state.
According to Soludo, most of the unknown gunmen are Igbo. “Let us be very clear: These criminals causing mayhem in Anambra are Igbos (dominantly from other South East states) whose real objective is lucrative criminality and foisting their idolatrous religion on the region. Why is it that everywhere they gather and in every camp they operate, there is a deity/idol to which they routinely offer blood in sacrifice? Igbo are known for their enterprise but these criminals are bent on killing Ndigbo businesses.
“The people of the South East, especially Anambra, are predominantly Christians. But with this gang, idolatry is back with vengeance. They forcefully try to convert people, especially the young ones to idolatry by initiating them into cults, swearing oaths to their deities, with the promise of invincibility. Consequently, these youths join them as members and informants.
“Spilling of the blood of the innocent is considered an abomination by our culture and by our Christian religion. We understand that they kill and harvest human organs for rituals and human sacrifice in their so called camps.
“With their new religion of idolatry and deadly weapons which they use to kill at random, they have tried to create a culture of fear and silence. More recently, the people have begun to question their propaganda, motive and means and they know that they have lost the sympathy of the people. That explains why they desperately tried to ignite a national inter-ethnic crisis by killing some innocent northerners who have lived peacefully in our state for decades to divert attention from their criminality and then seek to re-brand themselves as “defenders of the people.” They have failed, and would continue to fail.”
With the Governor’s painstaking collaborative effort with security agents, Anambra is winning the battle against the supposed unknown gunmen whose identities have become known.
A miscreant Chukwudi, alias 50 who said he has been part of the unknown gunmen in Anambra State for the past one year, confessed that he had so far killed four persons, including two policemen and two civilians.
‘50’ was apprehended inside a forest at Ukpor, his home town, in Nnewi South local government area of the state along with other members of his gang by security agents.
He said that although many people had been killed inside the camp, including those whose relations already paid ransom, he had not killed more than four people, adding that the last person he killed before their camp was destroyed was at the instance of their commander who ordered him to kill the man because he was a saboteur.
Along with the late Double Lion who was killed at Ihiala, he said that their leader, Ezemuo, (King of spirits) now on the run, did most of the killings.
Chukwudi said: “We killed some people because they were accused of monitoring us and acting as informants to the police and government. The two policemen I killed were at Ozubulu and I did it because the commander ordered me to do so.
“Our commander, Ezemuo, is from Imo State and he has run away, while Virus, who is the second in command, has also escaped to Lagos and his house at Ozubulu burnt down”.
Areas like Ukpor, Unubi, Ezinifite and Utuh in Nnewi South local government area have been deserted by their prominent sons and daughters due to the escalating insecurity.
Areas like Lilu, Azia, Okija, Orsumoghu, Ubuluisizo, Isekke, Amorka and Uli in Ihiala local government area have have also been under attack in recent times.
However, security operatives have continued to storm and smoke out the hoodlums from their hideouts and have been demolishing the camps of the gunmen.
The President General of Ogidi community, Idemili North local government area, Chief Chuka Onubogu said the phenomenon of ‘unknown gunmen’ is traceable to the increasing menace of cultism among the youths. He worried that, it was disturbing that more than two-thirds of the youths aged between 18 and 35 years were deeply invested in cultism which is a precursor to their involvement in the activities of gunmen.
He said: “Insecurity is taking its toll in Southeast and that is because we have failed in the upbringing of our children. Many parents concentrate more in acquiring wealth than on bringing up their children. If you train your children very well they will refrain from crime. All hands should be on desk towards curtailing the situation.
“What we are doing is managing it because drug is involved. What of the rich men that engage them? So it is a complex situation. That is why we talk of unknown gunmen in Igbo land. I think there is no more value for life. We get scared when we see unknown gunmen.
“These unknown gunmen have given themselves license to kill, not knowing that he who lives by the gun shall die by the gun. I usually hide my PG identity when I see those unknown gunmen because they don’t value life”.
Governor Chukwuma Soludo called on communities in the state to intensify support for government in its fight against criminality, in order to flush out the bad eggs among them.
“These people are not unknown gunmen. They live among our people, some of them have families and operate from various communities. We need people to help us identify them so that they can face justice.
“The gunmen came with their strange religion, but there is no relationship between light and darkness.
“Their gods drink blood, but ours doesn’t and that is why we need to fight them together. There is the need for the various communities to adopt ‘operation know your tenants,’ which he promised, would commence with his town, Isuofia in Aguata as a way of identifying the criminal elements within the communities,” he said.
Soludo added that government would not rest on its oars until all those involved in the gruesome murder of people were brought to face justice and expressed his solidarity with all the victims of criminality in the state, even as he reassured that they would surely get justice.
In his reaction, presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, and former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi lamented that many Nigerian youths were taking to drugs as escape route from the harsh economic realities and and political disorder in the country.
Obi believes adequate measures must be put in place to arrest the ugly trend and combat the menace, lest the “leaders of tomorrow” would remain chained to substance abuse while the future of the country continues to wither.
“Nigeria today has the highest drug abuse prevalence in the world. While the global average is 5.5%, Nigeria battles with 14.4% drug abuse prevalence. In 2021, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) found out that 40 percent of our youths, aged between 18 and 35, were deeply involved in drug abuse. What is more painful is that substance abuse is higher among youths in their productive age,” he said.
He further added that accumulated leadership deficit over the years in the country has continued to “rob our youths of their bright future, thus deepening their addiction to substance abuse.”
Rural schools in Anambra State are also pleading with Governor Soludo to deploy security operatives to the schools as a protective measure against the menacing gunmen in parts of the state.
This is coming considering the fall in enrolment and retention levels of school children in parts of the state. Many parents were taking out their wards from schools, adding that the governor’s action in that regard would encourage them to return their children to schools.
In July, the State Government ordered that about 1075 unapproved primary and secondary schools in the state would be shut down. Apart from issues including quality assurance, security had become primal to the state.
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