Regarding the insecurity that Anambra State is experiencing, accusing fingers continue to point in several places.
The state’s citizens think Prof. Chukwuma Soludo has the potential to address the security concerns that have existed before his administration.
Although Soludo has successfully combated insecurity in Anambra State and is still winning the war, many people don’t think that it’s yet uhuru.
These can be explained by the numerous robberies and murders that have occurred in the state, including in the city of Onitsha, Nnewi, Ekwulobia, and Ihiala districts, as well as the state capital, Awka.
Away from these, in the Anambra State hinterlands, there are still more incidences of killings and kidnappings than have been covered in the media. Armed robbery gangs acting in groups and utilizing tricycles have grown prevalent in Awka.
The most recent incident, which received a lot of media attention because prominent people were involved, involved the murder of US Consulate employees and security personnel in Ogbaru.
Aside from two people who were allegedly discovered near a location that had previously been used as a camp by fleeing gunmen, neither a real motive for the attack nor any actual arrests have been made to date.
The two individuals who were detained were neither explicitly accused of being a part of the attacks, nor were they paraded before the media. While briefing the media, CP Echeng Echeng, the police commissioner for Anambra State, hinted that the attackers might be separatists working with the Eastern Security Network (ESN), a militant branch of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), a rights organization, revealed last week through a press release by its Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi, that there is a connection between the attack in Ogbaru and an armed group operating in the Awka North Local Government Area.
Like Ogbaru, one of the regions where oil is mined in the state, many communities in Awka North are riverine and agrarian. Armed groups camping in Awka North have a propensity to use speed boats to conduct operations in Ogbaru, the region where the attack on the US embassy workers was reported.
In the meantime, IPOB has made a more specific charge that appears to support Intersociety’s assertions.
Last week, IPOB announced through its spokesperson Emma Powerful that its intelligence division, ESN, had dismantled an armed force operating in the state.
In less than a week, IPOB released two press statements naming Mr. Chikodi Anara, Soludo’s commissioner for homeland security, as the leader of the armed organization it had uncovered that was active in the Awka North area.
In their charge, IPOB named specific Anambra villages in the Awka North Local Government Area as the location of Anara’s supposed safe haven for armed men who have been terrorizing state residents.
The organization claimed that Anambra Homeland Security Commissioner Chikodili Anara, alias Igbakigba, was behind the crimes occurring in these villages (Awka North).
“The governor of the state of Anambra must look into the connections between some criminals operating in the aforementioned areas and Ogbaru and his homeland security commissioner, Chikodili Anara.
“We claim that these criminals operating in these communities are being sponsored by Chikodili Anara, nicknamed Igbakigba. He has to be questioned regarding the events at Isiodo, Ugwuaborshi, and Achalla as well as those who are working close to his sister’s home.
“The commissioner, Anara, must provide an explanation for his security team’s decision to refrain from chasing those offenders away. Is it because they are criminal partners?
The Anambra Vigilante Services, a state-sponsored security organization that works with traditional security agencies in the state and has neutralized many criminal elements, some of whom were allegedly members of IPOB, is led by Anara’s ministry of Homeland Security.
The AVG led by him has turned into a nightmare for criminals in the state, fueling speculation that IPOB may be assaulting Anara to get him out of the way.
However, in response to the accusations, Anara said in a press statement he signed that the spokesperson for IPOB had made numerous attempts to extort money from him and that he has made it clear that he will never give him any money.
“Emma Powerful called me in 2022 and claimed to have a story against me. In order for him to stop publishing, he insisted that I pay him money.
“He contacted me again later and repeated the same narrative, which I ignored. He has been phoning me ever since and has been trying to blackmail me, but I have made it clear to him that I will never give him a Kobo.
He has enlisted the help of two brothers who are witnesses in a murder trial taking place in Isuaniocha, Awka North Local Government Area, and they are funding him to write against me today.
“The article’s publication doesn’t surprise me. Emma Powerful (or whatever he is) is actually working a paid job. If he is sincere, I have invited him on multiple occasions to attend a meeting if he believes he can contribute to addressing the issue of insecurity we are currently experiencing in the state.
“I need to let Emma Powerful know that the Anambra Vigilante Group (AVG) has been around for a long time and wasn’t started by IPOB, which is a new and recent organization,” he said.
Intersociety has weighed in on the situation and demanded a thorough inquiry into the accusations made against Anara, claiming that this was the only way to address one of the state’s security concerns.
The group claimed that the accusations against Anara have continued, and if Soludo was real about addressing the security issues, it would take the appropriate action.
“International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has observed with total dismay and strong condemnation the unchecked deaths of unarmed civilians and the persistence of wrongful arrests and arbitrary detentions by armed state actor security operatives in Anambra State,” the group said.
The personnel and principal officers of the Nigerian Army (302 Artillery Regiment in Onitsha), the Nigerian Naval Base in Ogbaru, the Anambra State Police Command, and the State Government-funded Anambra Vigilante Services are responsible for the heinous and illegal acts, which are being committed and continued under the direction of the State Commissioner for Homeland Security.
These are crimes that they commit and continue to commit by employing erroneous criminal investigations and fake security intelligence. The aforementioned armed state actors and the current government of Anambra State are notorious for false labeling and heavily relying on “hearsay conclusions,” which allow for the indiscriminate criminalization of unarmed and defenseless people and their roundup for secret execution or arbitrary detention and denial of custodial liberties.
“Hearsay judgments and IPOB-phobia abound in the Ogbaru shooting that targeted a staff convoy for the US embassy. Lack of thorough criminal investigations free from hearsay findings, racial and religious profiling, criminal labeling, class criminalization, and “prosecutorial vindictiveness” are the biggest problems facing Nigerian security establishments.
The current criminal intelligence and policing, particularly proactive and preventative policing and efficient early warning reaction capacities, are also gravely lacking in the Nigerian security agencies.
Therefore, it is most likely true to state that the recently reported shooting at the US Embassy convoy in Ogbaru Local Government Area along Atani-Ogwu-Ikpere Federal Road in Anambra State is unavoidably rife with hearsay assumptions and “IPOB-phobia.”
We are even more saddened by the fact that Prof. Charles Soludo’s administration is relying on biased and tainted information from the State Police Command, the deployed commanding officers of the Ogbaru Naval Base, and the 302 Artillery Regiment of the Nigerian Army, Onitsha.
“The Anambra State government, led by Professor Charles Soludo, is strongly chastised for its silence on the recent serious allegations made against Mr. Chikaodili Anara (Igba-ka-Igba), his commissioner for homeland security. Mr. Chikaodili Anara’s denial of the same is flimsy and grossly fails to critically address the primary concerns highlighted.
“It must be noted that on May 28 and June 4, 2023, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) made serious accusations against the Homeland Security Commissioner that threatened to spread insecurity throughout Anambra State.
“The leadership of IPOB firmly accused him of ‘operating a hit squad featuring high profile kidnap-for-ransom gangs using Government contacts and functionaries as a back-up’.
He was also heavily accused of enabling invasions by the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen into Awka North and its surroundings as well as covertly buying acres of land for them on behalf of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).
“Commissioner Chikaodili Anara was additionally charged by IPOB with ‘being the brain behind the general security difficulties across the State’ and ‘using AVG (Anambra Vigilante Services) to kill unarmed individuals and label them suspected IPOB/ESN members.
Therefore, Intersociety demands that Governor Charles Soludo and his government of Anambra State/State Executive Council conduct a thorough, unbiased investigation into the serious accusations made against Commissioner Chikaodili Anara in order to determine whether or not they are true.
The committee stated, “The Soludo’s Government must also look inward regarding the shootings and killings that occurred during the convoy outside the US Embassy in Ogbaru for any potential insider connections or conspiratorial roles.”