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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Insecurity: Government Has Abandoned Us, Only Has Interest in Our Oil — Anambra Oil Producing Community Protests

 

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

In what could be better described as demonstration of their dissatisfaction, the people of Ogwuaniocha community in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State, have taken to the streets to protest against the persistent insecurity that has besieged the community.

Ogwuaniocha, a community richly endowed with oil, also complained of abandonment by the Anambra State government during the protest that drew over a hundred women of the community to the street.

They further lamented that their traditional ruler, Igwe Oliver Nnaji, who was kidnapped since 2021 is yet to be seen, while his whereabouts remain unknown to anyone.

The protesters who wielded placards with different inscriptions, marched around Onitsha and surrounding areas, to decry the anomalies, which they summed up as “incessant killings, abductions, and destruction of properties” by unidentified gunmen in their community.

According to them, the insecurity in Ogwuaniocha has recently claimed over 20 lives and left numerous individuals with various degrees of injuries. They attributed the insecurity to a group known as the “Lion Squad” — a criminal gang they said was also responsible for the shocking abduction of their traditional ruler.

Addressing newsmen, a leader of the protesting women, Mrs. Nkemdilim Onwurah, said fresh attacks by the Lion Squad started last Friday, a situation, she said forced many people to flee the community for their dear lives and safety.

While noting that their community shares boundary with Oguta in Imo State and some other communities previously being ravaged by unknown gunmen, she explained that the gunmen have found a safe haven in their community since security operatives began bombarding their camps in Ihiala, Orsu, Lilu.

She, however, lamented that despite massive insecurity and killings, the state government has abandoned the community to the criminals, and concentrated on protecting and providing security only to the area where the oil company operates from.

She said: “We are women of Ogwuaniocha community which has a common boundary with Oguta in Imo State. It is an oil-rich community which made Anambra to become an ‘oil producing’ state, thereby making Anambra to be placed among the states getting the 13 per cent oil derivation fund on a monthly basis.

“But despite this massive insecurity and killings, the state government has abandoned the community to these criminals. Only the area where the oil company operates from is the place being protected by security operatives, the rest areas have been overrun by these gunmen, who fled from Orsu, Lilu, Ihiala communities.

“These gunmen have found a safe haven in our community because their camps in Ihiala, Orsu, Lilu, are being bombarded by security operatives. We are using this opportunity to call on the Anambra State government to come to our rescue. Out houses have been destroyed, people are fleeing the community. Most families are hiding in the bushes right now.

“Last Friday, the unknown gunmen led by the Lion Squad invaded the bushes where some of these families are hiding, killing over 20 people and injuring many others. Our injured kinsmen and women are in the hospitals right now receiving treatment.

“We also submitted a petition to Governor Chukwuma Soludo on Wednesday. This is to draw his attention towards our plight. We also written to the police headquarters in Awka to notify them of our plights. They should come to our rescue by stopping these killings.

“Our children no longer go to school, markets no longer operate, economic and commercial activities are on a standstill because of these criminals holding the community hostage.”

One her own part, another protester, Mrs. Cecilia Okonkwo, noted that the criminals who fled Ihiala and Orlu axis are now currently camping in some places in their community called “Longinus Camp”, “Ose Mkpuruosisi”, “Onuiyi Camp”, and “Usham Ogwuaniocha Annex”, to terrorise the people of the area.

According to her, the latest onslaught against the community had taken place between Thursday, October 19, and Friday, October 20, when a combined team of the terror gangs and Lion Squad emerged from their bush hideout, swooped on some innocent citizens, beating them to stupor and, thinking that they were dead, left them, and dispersed.

Contributing, Ngozi Freda, who spoke amidst tears rolling down her cheeks, recalled how the terror gangsters led by one Double Lion invaded the Igwe’s palace on November 15, 2021, set it on fire, and kidnapped the monarch.

“The insecurity and killings in our community started as soon as oil was discovered in the community. These criminals formed an alliance with some opposition and seeking to hijack the control of the resources in the community. It is unfortunate that the state government has ignored our plight while only providing security to the areas operated by the oil company drilling oil in our community.

“We use this opportunity to appeal to the governor to come to our rescue. We believe he is a listening governor and he will listen to us,” Freda added.

When contacted by this reporter, Izunna Okafor; the Spokesperson of the Anambra State Police Command, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, said all the complaints that have been received from the community are being looked into and being thoroughly investigated by the Command. He also noted that the outcome of the investigation will be made known to the public upon the conclusion of the investigation; even as he reiterated the Command’s preparedness and unwavering commitment to the protection of lives and properties of Ndị Anambra, Ogwuaniocha inclusive.

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