Fear grips Enugu community as Force Headquarters arrest five vigilante leaders

* They’ve exposed our community to more danger, cries monarch

Fear has enveloped Akpawfu community in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu following the arrest of five leaders of the community’s vigilante operatives better known as the Neighbourhood Watch by the officers from the Police Force Headquarters, Abuja.

It was gathered that the security men, including the CSO, Chineme Amuziem Nwatu; Goddy Nnaji in charge of operation; Onyeka Nnaji, Godwin Nnaji, Monday Nnamani and Friday Nnamani,

 were arrested Thursday during a routine meeting with the police at the Agbani Area Command.

The development had left the community with fear as the leaders of the community fear that the worse situation is awaiting them as the the remaining security men had threatened to quit if their colleagues were not released immediately.

Akpawfu has been the operational base of bandits, who had since forced the people of the community to flee with several persons, particularly community leaders and vigilante men killed and dozens of houses burnt, while schools, churches and markets were shut for almost one year in the community.

However, the community fought back by assembling some of their youths, who volunteered to work as vigilante men, by helping the army and other security agencies to fish out the bandits. 

While normalcy started returning to the community, the villagers were hit with the news of the arrest of the vigilante men by the operatives of the Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Abuja during a routine meeting with the police at the Area Command, Agbani.

Expressing the concerns of the people of the community, the traditional ruler of Ajame Ameze Akpawfu Autonomous  Community, Igwe Christopher Nnamani said he and the people of the community were shocked at the news of the arrest of the security men by the police even without any information as to offence committed by them.

According to him, the security men had the recognition of the state government and the various security agencies in the state.

He expressed the fears that the little gains the community and the army had so far made might be disrupted with the arrest if the security men.

This he said was because “immediately after the news of their arrest filtered in, a minibus filled with men came to the operational base of the security men in the village, shouting their names and making the usual threats. So, we’re completely not at ease over the arrest because we don’t know what will happen next now that they have disorganized the local security in the village”. 

The monarch narrated the incident thus: “We have been facing serious security challenges in the past two years, but the event of Thursday, June 22 made me to shed tears. This is because as we are recovering from the insecurity situation in Akpawfu following the introduction of vigilante operatives, the situation started calming down with government security being able to have access to our community once again, culminating in the army finally settling in Akpawfu.

“So, after the army had settled in our place, they invited me and we took them round the villages, appealing to our people to inform their fleeing families that peace is returning. I also called on my people who have fled their homes to return home.

“Our security outfit that helped to return the peace is working with the army and police. The Divisional Police Officer of Nkanu East, had scheduled a meeting with our vigilante men today, Friday June 23,  ahead of the final peace meeting in the community on Saturday, June 24.

“Yesterday being Thursday, June 22, my CSO informed me that the DPO invited them to a meeting at Agbani Area Command. I gave five of them the permission to go and also reminded them about the meeting on Friday with the police.

“But, to my greatest shock, as they got to Agbani, I was told that some policemen came from Abuja and handcuffed them to be taken to Abuja.

“I went to the state CID but couldn’t find them. I also went to report to the commissioner of police, but he was not on seat. So, I called him later and he said he was aware of the officers from Force Headquarters. I later learned that they came from the Special Fraud Unit (SFU).

“As I’m talking to you, I have not seen the Abuja officers and I have not seen our security operatives. I was at the state police command headquarters but they gave me the impression that the vigilante men had been whisked to Abuja. None of them agreed that they were still in Enugu

“But when I went there this morning, a police officer I know told me that it was this Friday morning that they were taken to Abuja. I was later meant to understand that one ASP Zainab led the operation to arrest the men.

“My people are already hoping that the worst is about to happen to them if these men are not released to their families.

“These security men have already suffered a lot for accepting to do this job. Some of them have had their houses burnt because the bandits accused them of giving information to the military and DSS who are gradually picking them up from their hideouts.

“Some of their colleagues had even paid with their lives. One of them, Chukwuma Nnamoko, who was severally threatened with death. So, he had to resign his position as the Chief security officer. Yet, they killed him on April 17. Also, my palace secretary, Ifeanyi Ogbodo, was shot and killed in his house.

“With the arrest of the security heads, the remaining security men are already threatening that they would quit if their colleagues are not released by the police.

“But, I have continued to appeal to them that we’re working to ensure their release”.

He disclosed that he had called the team leader of the policemen from Abuja, “but rather than tell the reason for the arrest, he informed me that my name is with him as one of the persons that should be arrested. He also threatened to arrest me if I don’t report to Abuja. 

“All the while I was talking with the policemen on phone, they refused to tell me what the vigilante men did that would warrant their arrest from Force Headquarters.

“I have made representations to the local government chairman and the commissioner of police. But, I am still making efforts to reach the governor. 

“Since these people were assembled, the community had been calm. You can verify from the army and the DPO Nkanu East”.

He called on the state government and the inspector general of police to release the men to return to their duty post to avoid further damage to the security of the community.

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