This dubious act of setting police stations ablaze in the South East is an unlawful act and must have to be condemned and stopped immediately. The Nigerian law books are awash with all manner of stipulations on how aggrieved citizens can seek redress, taking steps recommended by the law. Therefore, News Echo condemns strongly all the incidents of burning of police stations by hoodlums or organized protesters.
However, Ndigbo from all walks of life have condemned what they called “police invasion of South East”. All over South East, the police carry themselves in a manner that suggest that they came to the zone not to protect life and property, but to intimidate, harass and extort money from the commuters.
According Fred Nwauche, a bus driver who operates the ever busy Owerri, Mbaise, Umuahia Road, there are about eight police check points. “I can tell you there are about eight police check points along the Owerri, Mbaise, Obowo, Umuahia Road. Now, you have seven passengers who paid N1000 which gives you N7000.
From there you settle the national union, you fill your tank and then you start “seeing” all the check points with N100k and you will still feed from the same N7000. It might be the only trip for you for the day because the line is really much. Now, how do you go about the frustration of “tipping” the police? It is really hard!”, he enthused.
Again, Ndukwe Arisa, a trader who applies the Aba –Port Harcourt Expressway almost on daily basis complained bitterly on what he described as “police wahala” on the road. He stated that from Port Harcourt to Aba is boring because of the unprofessional behavior of the policemen on the road. According to Arisa, “The fact remains that the South East is now a lucrative ground for men of the police force. I think the worst of all takes place on the Port Harcourt Road. In the least, there are about 15 police check points. As long as you are a commercial driver, you must “drop” something. With this type of ugly situation, business activities are becoming dull for those of us who apply that road. It is that bad”.
It is not even better in the other highways in the South East. Virtually all the presidents general of the autonomous communities in the region have condemned this action. Igbo leaders have called on the police to stop this unprofessional practice.
In line with the foregoing, gunmen have been attacking police stations in the South East since October, last year. In Awka, report had it that four policemen were killed, 11 stations, 20 vehicles burnt in Anambra on October 28, 2020. According to reports monitored in Owerri, hoodlums attacked the Abayi Osisioma Ngwa divisional police station in Abia State, killing some of the operatives and setting the offices on fire. The bandits said to number about 50, also carted away arms and ammunition from the station located along Umuojima/MCC Road, in Osisioma council area of Aba commercial town.
The same scenario played out in Obowo and Aboh Mbaise LGA’s of Imo State as the Imo Police command’s Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Orlando Ikeokwu, said that the injured officers were moved from local clinic to Owerri, for proper medical attention by the Commissioner of Police, Nasiru Mohammed, when he visited the affected station. He said: “On the 5th February 2021, at about 6:30 pm a large number of hoodlums whose number cannot be ascertained yet, attacked the Divisional Police hqrs, Obowo, but was engaged and successfully repelled by the operatives of the Division.
It was also reported that gunmen attacked and razed a police station in, Aboh Mbaise, Imo State, bringing the number of police facilities attacked in the region to three in less than one month. Similarly, two police officers were killed in two separate incidents in Anambra State on Wednesday when some gunmen attacked a police patrol team at a checkpoint in the state.
In Ebonyi, suspected hoodlums burnt the Police Divisional Headquarters in Isu, Onicha Local Government Area (LGA) of Ebonyi State. The State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Loveth Odah, confirmed the horrible incident on Thursday via a statement issued in Abakaliki, the state capital.
Apart from road blocks, it is also said that the police in the South East take skyrocket bail fees more than other regions; tell people to come today, come tomorrow any time there is a matter to look into.
The thinking of Ndigbo is that the burning of the police stations was as a result of “poor duty performance” in the South East and therefore, the youths particularly, moved to protect themselves and the region. However, Ndigbo urged the youths not to take laws into their hands.