By Isaac Ojo
A community leader in Nnewichi-Nnewi in Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra State who is also an Executive Assistant to Gov Willie Obiano, Hon Eloka Ubajekwe has raised alarm over the activities of Police Anti-cult squad.
Hon Ubajekwe who is also a Commander of AVG said the modus operandi of the Anti-cult squad in Nnewi especially in Nkpaka and Mbanagwu all in Okpuno-Nnewichi has become a big source of worry to the people of the area.
He pointed out that it has become habitual for the police anticult squad to storm the communities and make frivolous arrests in the middle of the night only for the suspects to be released after a ‘ransom’ of between thirty thousand Naira and fifty thousand Naira has been extorted from them.
“We are not saying that the police should not do their job of arresting and prosecuting criminals but the idea of storming a community in the middle of the night, scale fences of people’s compounds in the name of making arrests leaves much to be desired. There are many aged persons in our community some of whom are hypertensive, the approach of the police anticult squad is making their situation worse.
“It becomes more worrisome when one considers the fact that almost all the suspects arrested by the anticult police squad are released after they have been extorted, which of course, indicates the major purpose of their midnight operations. In the last four months, about eighty youths have been arrested and extorted, and none of them have been taken to court for prosecution.” Hon Ubajekwe explained.
The EA to the Anambra State governor however noted that he is not asking police officers not to do their jobs but that the approach being used the anticult squad is not in line with the existing working relationship between the police and the local vigilante in place in the affected communities.
“The Anambra Vigilant Group (AVG) has been trying their best to rid the communities of criminal elements, they have been doing great because they are at the grassroot and they know who is who. They have made arrests on several occasions and the suspects promptly handed over to the police for comprehensive investigation and prosecution. This is the working relationship we have with police and other security agencies but the activities of the anticult squad of Anambra State Command of NPF is rocking this relationship.” He pointed out.
Hon Ubajekwe said that the elders in the affected community have complained to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and the Area Commander in charge of the Police Area Command Nnewi and that the response they got from them was that they are not in charge of the anticult squad.
“Our appeal is simple, we are praying the Anambra State Commissioner of Police to come to the rescue of the people. The level of intimidation and extortion by the anticult squad is no longer acceptable. It is so bad now that the people are now even erroneously accusing the AVG of conniving with the police anticult squad to carry out frivolous arrests. We beg the CP to please call them to order.” The community leader concluded.
All attempts to get the police angle of the story did not yield any positive dividend as the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Mr Mohammed Haruna (DSP) did not pick his call when contacted by our reporter.