Condemnations trail Soludo's "road blocks" order

Condemnations trail Soludo’s “road blocks” order

…Soludo had stressed that the state needed more of security check points in the coming days

Condemnations have continued to trail Anambra State Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s directive on more security checkpoints in the state.

Soludo, during a statewide broadcast, had stressed that the state needed more of security check points (FOBs) in the coming days, weeks and months in view of their very critical role in restoring the peace and order being enjoyed in the state so far.

He appreciated the commitment, professionalism and dedication to duty by the Nigerian military and other security agencies in the state.

He particularly appreciated the Nigerian Army, Navy, Police, DSS, Civil Defense and other security agencies in boosting the security architecture put in place by his administration to secure the homeland.

According to Soludo, as the first Christmas in his nine months in office as Governor of Anambra State, he would like to use the opportunity to felicitate with all the Anambra people, the millions at home and the more millions in diaspora celebrating Christmas and New Year.

“Our nine months in office has been a journey to serve ndi Anambra and transform the state into a liveable and prosperous homeland that we promised our people.

“The first key agenda of our five major pillars happens to relate to security, law and order and this is the aspect that I want to specifically talk about, to say to our people, where we were at the time I was sworn into office on the 17th of March 2022 and where we are today, which shows the difference between day and night.

“On the 17th of March 2022, eight local governments were literally under seige, taken over by criminals and hoodlums in various camps set up in these local governments. 

“But by the grace of God, those 8 local governments have been totally liberated. Law and order seems to be returning back to Anambra. All the camps have been decimated and some of the deadly criminals have been taken out for good,” Soludo stated.

“Few days ago, we had over eighty of these touts ‘agberos’ harassing people around Upper Iweka and environs, taken into custody and to be prosecuted and probably jailed.

“We are trying to keep our streets safe from touts and criminals. Though we may never have a crime free society but comparatively, I don’t know any state in Nigeria that is safer than Anambra.

“I want to commend all the citizens of Anambra and the stakeholders who hearkened to our call that ‘If you see something, say something, if you say something, do something’. And to our youths who have taken the destiny of this state into their hands; to our women and men who had contributed in assisting government to get hold of criminals in the state. Thank you all.

“Two weeks ago, one criminal in far away Finland declared five days sit at home but ndi Anambra defied the order! Not a single day was observed.

“Thousands of our people returned back home for Christmas and that is why the streets are all busy.

“I want to commend our special task forces that we set up to ensure free flow of traffic. In recent decades, this is the first time we have the most free flow of traffic in the state,” Governor Soludo noted.

“I saw a video of the traffic at Head Bridge and people where manning the place 24 hours a day, and the other locations at Nnobi, Ekwulobia, Nkpor, Awka, Abagana, 33 Onitsha, etc, to ensure that our people move freely.

“I want to commend the security agencies, the Anambra Road Traffic Management Agency, the OCHA Brigade, the Vigilante Services, the Anambra youths who have volunteered to serve our people, to keep our streets safe, restore law and order.

“I want to use this occasion to specially appreciate the law enforcement agencies; the Nigerian Police, the Navy, the DSS, the Civil Defense and of course, our very gallant Anambra Vigilante Services and all the volunteers.

“To all the ndi Anambra who have risen up to the occasion, helping to organize the local vigilantes, providing logistics, donation to the security trust fund and those helping in their own little ways to make sure we have a safer homeland.

“There is still work to be done, there are still challenges and all hands must continue to be on deck,” Governor Soludo pointed out.

“I want to commend all the armed forces who put their lives on the line to have our people sleep with their two eyes closed.

“All those who have paid the supreme sacrifice just to keep Anambra safe, several of them died needlessly I must say. May their souls rest in peace.

“These criminals wants the security officers out of the road but fortunately, we thank God that they have remained resolute.

“We will continue to provide all the support that we can to all the security forces as government and as a people of Anambra.

“What they are doing, the sacrifices that they make their commitments and FOBs, we will continue to strengthen them and make them even stronger to keep our people safe and secured.

“In normal circumstances, these road blocks wouldn’t have been needed but this is what we brought up on ourselves.

“Our people taking up arms in the bushes, involved in criminality so to speak. Since they have decided to operate in an abnormal way, we now need abnormal solution.

“We are not always the most confident but the most effective in this circumstance and until the insecurity situation comes down to near zero, we will continue to have the road blocks and FOBs in place.

“I want to thank every ndi Anambra who have been involved. Everyone has a role to play in the road ahead.

“The youths must rise and take their destinies into their hands because their future is on the line, the future of their children and grandchildren. It is your future we are keeping awake everyday to secure.

“I want to use this medium again to appeal to those in the bush and forest, the criminals out there, the kidnappers to come out. We are offering them the opportunity to retrain them and help them start a new productive life.

“The course you have taken by being in the bush is one that leads to nowhere. It is not going to take you to anywhere. Criminality cannot pay you in the long term.”

But his deputy, Onyekachi Ibezim had expressed a contrary view during a statewide traffic control tour on Christmas Eve.

While confronting soldiers who erected barricades at Amansea, a border town near Enugu State, causing heavy gridlock for Christmas travellers, Ibezim ordered dismantling of the road block, stressing it was unacceptable to government that the motoring public would spend a long time and burn petrol on traffic because of artificial gridlock caused by soldiers.

A viral video had showed the deputy governor alighting from his vehicle after witnessing the long traffic, to confront the soldiers, while ordering his security men to dismantle the roadblock for all road users to pass by. Ibezim who also took time to control traffic, urged drivers to move fast and avoid unnecessary delay on the road.

In the video, the deputy governor told one of the soldiers, “We can not continue like this in this country. This was not what the army used to be, you must stop this.”

Corroborating the deputy governor, Commissioner for Information, Paul Nwosu, accused soldiers manning checkpoints in the state of extorting and harassing motorists instead of apprehending the hoodlums harassing the state.

Nwosu, in a statement said, “It is a tragedy that the checkpoints manned by military men on literally all the roads across the state have precipitated punitive traffic gridlocks where the mass of Yuletide vacationers are argonously trapped for many hours, an experience which Anambra State Government had worked hard to avert at this period.

“The recent practical experience of the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim, in courageously confronting the soldiers on the Amansea end of the state calls for grave concern.

“It seems these military men manning the checkpoints have turned these places into toll points this season, thereby causing traffic jams and thwarting government’s effort to ensure free flow of traffic.

“The case of Amansea is particularly instructive because the Deputy Governor had warned the military personnel earlier in the day to allow traffic move smoothly, but immediately he left they resumed the unwholesome “checkings”.

“The sad aspect is that the military men are obviously not apprehending the hoodlums harassing the state. What then is the use of blocking roads at this time when there is no particular intel to track an impending crime or fleeing criminals?

“This leaves one with one conclusion: that the long traffic jams are orchestrated just to extort money from drivers and motorists.

“This pernicious attitude to traffic management by our military is condemnable. The security of the state must not be compromised on the altar of making filthy lucre by men who ought to protect the people.

“Military subordination to civil authority should be emphasized forthwith and henceforth.”

On his part, Anambra Civil Society Network (ACSONET) a foremost Citizens and Non State Actors stakeholders group, frowned at the imposition of continued police and military checkpoints in the State by Governor Chukwuma Soludo.

Leader of the group, Prince Chris Azor in a statement totality, rejected the continued imposition of roadblocks, saying such would be an extension of ongoing mindless extortion of citizens, a development he said would be undemocratic and counterproductive.

In a swift reaction to the Governor’s Statewide broadcast on Security Situation in Anambra, Azor debunked Soludo’s assertion that “this is what we imposed on ourselves” maintaining that acts by a handful of deviants cannot define who we are as hardworking and patriotic Citizens.

He advised the Governor and his aides to device a more scientific, innovative and technology based approach to tackling the challenges of insecurity in the State. 

“This would be simply an extension of people’s suffering and hardship. The security forces have been taking advantage of the roadblocks to extort, intimidate and molest the citizens. And by extension further pushing our people into untold hardship, poverty and unproductivity. This is absolutely unacceptable. We don’t seem to have learnt any lessons from Endsars protests. Recall recent tragedy of the Christmas day senseless killing of a female Lawyer as a result of these road blocks” he Said.

The human rights advocate however, commended the Governor on his giant strides in Security and infrastructure, and implored him to make a formal address to Ndi Anambra showcasing his achievements in other areas of governance as stipulated in his five point agenda “People’s manifesto”

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