Sociologists have unanimously accepted the axiom that man’s basic needs are narrowed into three most important components. Food, shelter and security. These prehistorically guaranteed and determined human settlements of all kinds. We are well settled in Abia overcoming all environmental and geographical hazards. Nothing is certain in life but the issue of security will always be recurrent, more so, to modern and city life, compounded by the downturn of the economy, where crime has marched on with other developmental indices as if it is a partner in progress.
The Abia case started like a joke with minor skirmishes of mugging, bugling or break and enter like the police would say.
Security became an issue in 2009 in Abia state. It raged like wildfires of Texas and refused all entreaties. Even security experts were beaten. We were used to cases of armed robbery bringing up names like Oyenusi in Lagos and Anini in former Bendel State. Kidnapping though a newcomer in Nigeria has assumed multiple proportions and presently patronized by many of our youths. In some places, it became a community enterprise as many looked the other way because of their safety. It became so complicated that heinous crime went on without whistle blowers.
In the case of Abia, the newspaper page and all the social media will not be the best place to review or reveal strategies that brought it to a grinding halt. A lot was done. There were high level collaborations with all the security agencies available. Over 1000 vehicles have been bought and donated by Abia government, houses built, schools and public buildings converted to camps. The return of the army camp after many years of desolation helped matters. The state government assisted the Federal government in renovating the Ohafia Barracks, placing a construction company- The Environmental Worldwide to cater to their needs. Parade grounds were built including a helipad in Isiukwuato LGA to facilitate troop movement and supervision. It is somewhat unusual that in a full democracy, our civilian villages and homes have become militarized with soldiers ubiquitous in many sections, but if that could facilitate and guarantee security, so be it.
Practically verifiable are the Military Bases at Ohafia, the camp at Asa High School which became a rehab for militants. The multiple road blocks along our highways from Ukwa to Arochukwu, mobile espionage equipment, visible and hidden are security wheels daily oiled by the State Government. What about the APCs- the Armored Personnel Carriers that are stationed in strategic points in the whole of Abia. The words of the Royal Highness, Eze Shedrack Ahuama, native of one of the Ukwa communities of blessed memory, still echoes as if it was said yesterday.
‘I was a wrestler in my youth and at a point was hired by some communities to represent them in communal tournaments. I grew up with pride and was never challenged but this boy, Osisikangwu sacked my village to the point that I had to go on exile with my wives. Ochendo, if I have nothing to be grateful for, that you brought me back to my kingdom is enough for me.’
This writer was an eyewitness to the quoted incident. That tells the whole story of the kidnap saga that was endemic in Aba and environs. The Royal father was not the only person who was impressed. A national peace committee, led by a towering national figure, Alhaji Abba Gana came to Abia and honoured Sir T A Orji as a security consultant. No less a fellow than the current police boss Mohamed Abubarka commended the governor once, avowing that Abia is a case study.
At Tom Ikoro Drive, off Finbarrs Road, in Umuahia capital city, there are two modern compounds of multiple buildings and rooms in police and army colours, just opposite the Ministry of Justice. So many of such exist in Aba which was harassed to the extent that banks went on forced closure. It may be inconveniencing that from Umuahia to Port Harcourt, you may be stopped in over 20 checkpoints for routine or proper search, but it is not too big a price to pay for safety of citizens and denizens. We could recall that an executive bill was dispatched to Abia House of Assembly that promptly legislated kidnaping as a capital offence. The banning of commercial motorcycles stemmed crime and saved lives from multiple and frequent accidents in Abia.
There is the news of resurgence. We cannot go that road again. Kidnapping was a nightmare. According to Chief T A Orji, ‘kidnapping is a situation I would not wish my enemy. I grew grey hairs overnight. People should note that it is still a crime punishable by death. That was why I lobbied greatly for the extension of amnesty to our youths, especially those who got involved by default. Any person going back there is courting death.’
Please let us think of other ways to make a living. A secure, quiet and peaceful Abia has been good for all.
.Onuzuruike wrote in from Umuahia, Abia State