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Onitsha crisis deepens

Posted by By GEOFFREY ANYANWU, Awka, NWABUEZE OKONKWO, Onitsha and GREAT OSIBEROHA, Aguata on 2006/06/19 | Views: 669 |

Onitsha crisis deepens

More than 200 prison inmates were Monday set free by suspected hoodlums in Onitsha as the mob war which broke out in the troubled city at the weekend defied trouble-shooting efforts of the government.

More than 200 prison inmates were Monday set free by suspected hoodlums in Onitsha as the mob war which broke out in the troubled city at the weekend defied trouble-shooting efforts of the government.

Despite the deployment of troops and a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed by the state government on Sunday, miscreants, invaded the Onitsha prison around 2.00a.m., breaking into it and setting some parts of the building on fire while also injuring some prison officials on duty.

The whole lot of the inmates, numbering 204 were released by the thugs, says a senior official of the prison, who simply gave her name as Ms Okpoko.

The suspects who perpetrated the act in spite of the presence of heavily armed soldiers in various parts of the commercial city, also allegedly attacked the Marine Police Post, wounding two police officers in the process.

The officer in charge of the Marine Division, Mr. Geoffrey Barede (ASP), said when the hoodlums invaded the police station, two officers, Sergeant Emmanzor Ogeneribo and Constable Paul Godwin were attacked and have been hospitalised.

He added that one Marine Boat, 3 "55" horsepower Yamaha engine and generators were destroyed with four 'Mark 4' rifles stolen.

In desperation, Anambra State Governor, Mr Peter Obi, practically gave the joint military/police patrol team the nod to shoot trouble-makers on sight, to beat down the upsurge of violence.
This is coming even as the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations), Mr Mike Okiro relocates to take charge of security in the beleaguered city.

One of the four prisoners who gave themselves up and returned after the fracas, Bright Chukwujekwu, told reporters that the suspected hoodlums, armed with guns, machetes, hammers, iron rods and acid introduced themselves as members of the separatist group, Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).

But MASSOB spokesman, David Chinedu denied the involvement of his group in the attack.
Onitsha, a major commercial centre in Anambra State has been the cauldron of bloody unrest since Friday, following clashes between MASSOB members and the police, which had left scores of people dead.

Okiro, who breezed into the state Monday morning first met with Governor Obi behind closed doors in Government House, Awka in the state capital, before heading for Onitsha.
Emerging from the meeting, Obi said with the escalating situation, the police might not have any option other than to shoot-on-sight to flush out the bad elements behind the crisis.
He reiterated his warning to members of the MASSOB and the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), identified as culprits fomenting the trouble, to quit the state as they represented nothing good for the people.

Speaking to newsmen after an expanded security meeting with Okiro in attendance, Obi said that his order that all the groups, including NARTO, MASSOB, Anambra Vigilante Service (AVS), National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and Bakassi should leave the state was irrevocable.

He said: ďAll of us know what the problem is and those behind it. This problem is easy and can be solved easily, all we want is let every group leave Onitsha, and by that I mean NARTO, MASSOB, AVS, whoever. So ,what they (Police) should do is direct that everybody leaves and also if any of them does not leave, shoot-on-sight, they must leave, thatís all.

ďI am not giving them orders, am saying they know what to do. As the chief security officer, am saying we do not want all these people again. They are our problems. Donít we have the right to say we donít want these people in our state? We donít want them, they are causing problems for us, and we are saying they should leaveĒ.

Speaking to newsmen after the brief meeting, the police chief described the situation in Onitsha as worrisome to the nation and declared that it must stop.
He admitted that the police had casualties but could not confirm the number that died, as according to him, he was yet to be fully briefed.

He said: ďIt is worrisome to everybody. Thatís why I am here. We are disturbed by what is happening in Anambra, especially Onitsha, we want to make sure this does not happen any longer, thatís why am here Ė to make sure we look at the situation, study it and come out with a definite strategy that will stop itĒ.
The police chief who said the duration of his stay in the state is indefinite stressed that Anambra State needed peace to develop, adding that Onitsha is of very commercial importance to Nigeria and must not be allowed to witness what is going on now.

It would be recalled that the same prison was attacked and prisoners set free during the reprisal attack in Onitsha over the religious riot in Maiduguri, January this year.

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Comments (23)

emilia(Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria)says...

Wow,trying to get across to Ekene jnr he happens to be my old friend,lost his contact.any info would do me good

Valarie(Nairobi, Kenya)says...

What’s your point?

robloxian(Bangor, Maine, US)says...

hahahaha u r a wierdo…hehehe

robloxian(Bangor, Maine, US)says...

wow so bad.


U r weird gus