Maintaining public order and safety, enforcing the law, preventing, detecting and investigating criminal activities, remain the crucial role of the police force in society. The absence of this creates a gap that could be filled by a spate of violence and chaos, which in turn leaves fear and terror in the mind of residents and the citizenry.
World Bank Housing Estate, Agbama and its environs have served as residential areas for civil servants, who might have at a time, considered these regions as considerable options due to its serenity and its proximity to their work areas, majorly the State Secretariat, or study areas, such as the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike.
However, in recent times, residents now have a different story to tell.
Stories of armed robberies, car snatching, car battery theft, phone snatching and assaults are heard from different parts of the city.
This has become the order of the day in Umuahia Metropolis, specifically in World Bank and Low-Cost Housing estates, Agbama and its environs; as daily activities have been interrupted by criminal activities in the area.
In the past week, residents and business owners have raised cries and told stories of being attacked at gunpoint, and their personal belongings being made away with, while some recount cases of waking up to looted shops or vandalized homes.
This has left residents in perpetual fear leading to the belief that the police who are saddled with the responsibility of protecting the lives and property of residents are not living up to expectations.
It might interest you to know that the capital of Abia plays host to numerous police stations and mobile units as well as other security paraphernalia.
One can notice the heavy presence of these policemen on the streets, especially around their stations; searching tricycles, checking vehicle particulars and enforcing the curfew.
The stories of extortion by tricycle operators have become a norm and sadly the refusal of tricycle operators to ply certain routes have blessed residents of Umuahia with untold hardship, and since they can’t do anything residents have adjusted to the status quo.
However, when young men are randomly arrested and whisked off to their stations and slammed with baseless allegations and made to pay huge sums into private accounts, you begin to wonder if there is fundraising for the Nigerian Police.
One of such stories would be that of Gee (not his real name), a student, who got accosted by men of Special Forces at a hike junction, arrested and detained him and six others without any proof of involvement in criminal activities, and eventually charged 500 thousand Naira as “bail” for his release.
While sharing his plight to his Social media peers, the young man highlighted how he, and 6 other residents, were rough-handled by these operatives, after being baselessly accused of being internet fraudsters and IPOB members; he was picked up at Ahiaeke junction on his way back from school.
On arriving at the police station, the story changed as it became a hostile transaction far from the initial accusations, to how much they could pay before being set free.
In a chat with Nigerdeltaconnect Gee revealed he was asked by an officer to pay five hundred thousand Naira and after stating that he didn’t have the sum, it was reduced to one hundred and fifty thousand naira and in a bid to prove he didn’t have that much either he showed the officer his account balance and ended up parting with thirty thirty-found Naira, money Gee claims he had to borrow from a friend who sent it directly to them for fear of being maltreated.
One will think that such a case will cease after the #EndSars protest; unfortunate tales of young men, who are arrested, even though they are not found with any indecent dressings or hairstyles, expensive gadgets or tattoos, just as in the case of Gee. They continue to occur every day.
Can one hold back from raising eyebrows, after hearing the spokesperson of the Abia State Police Command claim that they can’t be present in all parts of the state to ensure the citizens’ safety or attend to them without complaints, yet we hear stories of these illegal arrests; suggesting the setting up of local vigilantes to curb the activities of criminal elements.?
What is the fate of Umuahia residents?