Stop humiliation of passengers at checkpoints in S’East – Reps
* Engage stakeholders over insecurity in Umunneochi/ Isuikwuato
By Steve Oko
House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Insecurity, Assassination and Banditry in Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency, has told the security agencies to stop the alleged humiliation and dehumanisation of commuters at checkpoints in South East geo-political zone.
The Committee which held a townhall meeting with stakeholders and relevant security agencies in the constituency at Isuikwuato over the weekend, where the people complained bitterly about the humiliation, frowned at the act and asked the security agents involved to desist from such disdainful treatment
Chairman of the ad-hoc committee, and member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia North/ Umuahia South, Hon. Obi Aguocha, said that the lawmakers would no longer tolerate any form of dehumanization of innocent citizens at checkpoints in the South East.
Adding his voice, Hon. Amobi Ogah representing Isuikwuato-Umunneochi federal constituency, said security operatives should device better ways of detecting criminals than hiding under the guise of searching for criminals to dehumanize innocent travelers.
“From today, my people should no longer be humiliated. The humiliation is enough. Even when it is raining, people are asked to alight from the vehicle and treck over checkpoints. This is bad!
” We know it’s not easy for the security agents as they have been also killed but that process is not the way to save your lives”.
The lawmaker who argued that the festering insecurity in the South East might not be unconnected with the continued detention of the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, called on the Federal Government to heed the growing clamour for Kanu’s release, and free him without further delay.
” We are begging the Federal Government to release Nnamdi Kanu. It will help us to know the actual problem we are facing”.
Recall that the motion which led to the setting up of the ad-hoc committee was moved on the floor of the House of Representatives by Hon. Ogah.
The Chairman of the Committee, had earlier explained that the townhall meeting was to engage with stakeholders in the constituency to brainstorm on how to end the menace of insecurity in the area.
” We came to note your concerns. You reside in this environment, and are often the victims. We have had three public hearings including with the Heads of security agencies.”
Rep. Aguocha, noted that there had been a significant reduction in the spike of insecurity in the constituency following the recent launch of Operation Crush by the Abia State Government.
He promised to work with the State Government and relevant stakeholders in restoring security to the constituency.
” Where we can use legislation to increase resources for our security agencies, we will not fail to do that,” he said.
The lawmakers urged the people to voice their concerns and volunteer any ideas that could help proffer solution to the challenges of insecurity in the constituency.
Meanwhile, different speakers at the townhall meeting, identified the presence of the Regional Cattle Market at Lokpanta, as the major cause of insecurity in the area, and called for its relocation.
They alleged that the market provide cover for criminals behind the orgy of kidnapping, banditry and assassination in the area.
The stakeholders also called for the immediate ejection of all those residing inside the market, insisting that it should be fenced and converted to only day market.
According to the stakeholders, the cattle market not only habours criminals but also serves as a centre for distribution of hard drugs, immorality and other heinous crimes.
A woman leader in Umuchime, Mrs Ijeoma Adim, lamented that cows had destroyed the only source of drinking water in the community, and called on Government to sink water boreholes from the people.
She also alleged that their farmlands had been destroyed by cattle, and called for immediate end to open grazing in the area.
Methodist Bishop of Umunneochi Diocese, Bishop IK Tasie, decried the activities of bandits and kidnappers in the area, saying that the religious lives of the people had been badly affected, as locals now live in fear.
He called for the identification through aerial surveillance, and dismantling of the hideout of the criminals.
The stakeholders also called for profiling of herders in the area with a view to fishing out criminal elements among them.
They called for the rehabilitation of all bad roads in the constituency as the criminals have converted such spots to striking points as motorists try to slow down due to bad road.
The stakeholders also suggested the clearing of the bushes around the roads to enable drivers have a wider view of the environment as they drive.
They further called for the creation of job opportunities for the youths to avoid getting recruited into the crime industry as a result of idleness.
The stakeholders further suggested the erection of security towers at strategic locations on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway that passed through the constituency, installation of security cameras and the use of drones for surveillance.
In a remark, the Vice Chancellor, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, MOUAU, Professor Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe, who hails from Isuochi, regretted that he had not been able to travel home as he used to because of the spike in criminal activities in the area.
He thanked the committee for the townhall meeting which he expressed optimism, would help proffer solution to the security challenges in the constituency.
” Your coming is very apt and I pray it will bring relief to the siege we are under here”, he said.
A Public Health Consultant in charge of Umunneochi, Dr Amobi Uwaezuoke, said that all medical workers in the area had left due to insecurity.
He also said that the cattle market had been a source of the surge in HIV/AIDS cases in the area, arguing that there were no proper analysis of the impacts of the market before it was brought to the area.
Dr Uwaezuoke who said that the market had done more harm than good to the people, demanded payment of reparations to the people over the monumental harm and environmental degradation caused by the cattle market.
In his submission, the Commanding Officer in charge of 143 Rangers Battalion Ovim which overseas the constituency, Lt. Col. A Adebayo, who noted that insecurity was high when he assumed duty in July, said there had been a significant reduction since then.
He gave kudos to Gov. Alex Otti, who had provided the needed logistic support, and vowed that the Army in collaboration with other security agencies would sustain the fight against insecurity in the area until there is total respite.
Other stakeholders including the traditional institution, called for more support to security agencies, as well as security vote for traditional rulers to enable them effectively combat insecurity.