From PETER OKORE, Umuahia
Communities in Umunneochi, Isuikwuato and Ukwa-West Local government areas of Abia state have made passionate appeal to the state government and security agencies to beef up security in their communities over fear of possible attack by herdsmen.
Recently, these areas have become the centers for kidnappings and open attacks on communities by people suspected to be armed Fulani herdsmen.
Spokesmen from Umunneochi, Mr. Ukachukwu Nwankwo and Ngadi Oguka from Ukwa-west where clashes have been reported in recent times, said on Tuesday that the various communities now pass through sleepless nights because of sporadic shootings frequently heard in their localities.
At daytime, the herdsmen chase farmers out of their farms as they shoot sporadically, while their cows feed on crops planted in the farms.
According to them, “security agents hear sounds of these sporadic shootings and refuse to give explanations to panicking and fleeing villagers, who innocently run to them for safety. At night, these suspects raid the nearby villages for young men to kill or kidnap; and, as a result people now run helter skater for their dear lives. Reports from these areas predict that If care is not taken promptly, famine may set-in in no distant time.”
It will be recalled that just a couple of days ago, the Methodist Church Prelate Bishop Samuel Kanu, with two other clerics were kidnapped within this hot zone and released after paying N100m ransom.
Several other criminal activities have taken roots there and yet, there are close-by check-points, manned by men in uniforms.
Following the incessant cases of banditry along this Umunneochi axis of the Enugu Okigwe Express-Way, youths from the area came together to call on government and security operatives to intervene to check the menace.
A few days ago Abia state Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu inaugurated a Special Security Committee for Umunneochi Local Government Area with assurance to support the Committees until the story of security returns to normalcy in the area.
He charged the committee to stamp-out strange elements who have no business in Umunneochi, Isuikwuato and Ukwa-West forests but merely constituted themselves into security threats.
He also charged the committee to deepen intelligence about what is happening in the area especially movement around the area.
Speaking during the inauguration of the committee in Umuahia, Ikpeazu directed the Committee to take over all ungoverned spaces in Umunneochi, in particular, and set- up systems that will lead to the apprehension of all elements who have become a nuisance to the people of the Council.
He assured that government will provide all that is needed to make their job successful and announced immediate provision of a patrol vehicle and motorcycles to serve as enablers to their assignment.