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Until they call off their bluff

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Armed robbery and kidnapping have become common occurrences in today's Nigeria. Scarcely does a day pass by without the media carrying news of the kidnapping of one prominent man or woman in the society or the robbing of one creditable bank or another by armed hoodlums. In the case of kidnappers, they would usually ask for ransom money that runs into millions of pounds from the family of their victim. These criminally-minded hoodlums claim that the government failed them by not providing jobs for them, and “man must survive anyway”. That is why they are either armed robbers ready to kill for the money or kidnappers asking for huge sums of money as ransom.

The hard fact, however, is that most of these young rascals who have decided to become armed robbers and kidnappers are not just ready to do decent jobs and live decent lives, even if government provided them with jobs.

The federal, state and local government councils will definitely claim they are doing the best they can, within the limits of their financial resources, to create more jobs for their teeming population of young school leavers. Who can contradict them? Perhaps they are trying their best as they claim. Everyone knows the fact as an open secret that, these days, jobs are hard to come by in practically every country of the world. They are scarce in America. They are scarce in all of Europe, including the United Kingdom. They are scarce in China. They are scarce in Japan. It is about the same situation in every country in the world today. Nigeria cannot be different.

Because jobs are scarce, people take risks and migrate to other countries where they believe they can get better deals. They won't have to kill to better their standards of living. They look for jobs, and work. In some cases, young school leavers are known to either create some sort of jobs for themselves, or lean on their families or friends for support until they are able to find decent means of livelihood.

But for some, especially the uneducated or half-educated, there are always the short-cuts they believe will automatically alleviate their condition of poverty, even if that short-cut turns out to be bloody and brutal. Because they are not educated, or because they are "educated illiterates", money is the only language they understand. So, they do anything to have it. They kill. They maim. They rob. They kidnap. They do rituals. They do practically any devilish thing to get that money. But thank goodness, nemesis is beginning to catch up with them.

The breakthrough came after the arrest of the most wanted criminal suspect in Nigeria. His arrest and subsequent incarceration came after a long period of time during which the people of Anambra State were subjected to absolutely humiliating human conditions as hoodlums continued to operate within their communities with unimaginable impunity. Now, for the first time in that long while, the people of Anambra State can now sleep with both eyes closed. They have begun to put themselves together again and get about their normal businesses in an atmosphere in which they are no longer afraid of criminals operating in their midst.

Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Mr Hosea Hassan Karma, has said that he will key into the security apparatus set up by his predecessor and that of the state government to sustain the tempo of the war against crime and criminality in the state. The new police boss made this known when he paid a courtesy visit to the State Governor, Willie Obiano, at the Government House in Awka soon after he was posted to the state. Hassan Karma before his redeployment to Anambra was the Commissioner of Police in charge of Police Mobile Force at the Force Headquarters in Abuja. Welcoming the new Commissioner, Governor Obiano expressed optimism that the Police Commissioner will intensify the war against crime in the state just as his predecessor had done and assured him of all required and necessary support.

Over the years, the Police Commissioners who were posted to the State had similar experiences and similar stories to tell. The moment the criminals knew who was in charge, they would create situations of unprecedented tensions. Those situations were calculated to subject the police authorities into feeling that the communities were on the side of the robbers and kidnappers. The police was made to have the impression that the citizens were hostile to them and would never cooperate with them in any effort to rid their communities of bad eggs.

Given these false impressions, the hoodlums would then operate more freely. They would intimidate the citizens with threats of reprisals should anyone try to expose them, and impress on them that the police was on their side. So, their double game usually paid off. The police would think the citizens were on the side of the hoodlums and the citizens would think the police deliberately turned a blind eye to the activities of the hoodlums terrorising the locality.

But all that changed when the former Police Commissioner Bala Nasarawa who had a different background and training was posted to the State. When Nasarawa arrived in the state, his first assignment was to scrutinize the files he found on his desk. Some of the files that immediately attracted his attention were those of pending cases of the kidnapped traditional rulers of Adazi Nnukwu and Ihembosi and the attack on two police stations at Amichi and Ukpor, both in Nnewi South Local Government Area of the state.

Not long after the Commissioner settled in the state, Igwe Robbert Eze, the traditional ruler of Ukpo, in Dunukofia Local Government Area of the state, was kidnapped. Five policemen were murdered in Okija, in Ihiala Local Government Area. Three other policemen were killed in Ozubulu. All these were in addition to other high profile kidnappings and criminal activities the daredevils perpetrated in many parts of the state.

The disturbed Commissioner seized every available opportunity to brief the people of Anambra State on the importance of providing his Command with necessary information that could lead to the arrest of men of the underworld.

Those briefings paid off in good time.
Public spirited individuals in the community had become so worried about the incessant criminal activities that were going on in Orafitite in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of the state that they pointed out one Olisa Ifedike to the Commissioner as the man who had been celebrating crime in the locality for years. They confided in Nasarawa that virtually every crime committed in the state had his stamp and signature and that members of his gang were scattered all over the state and beyond.

After Ifedike was arrested and detained, Nasarawa addressed the press. He said that the suspect had been the most wanted armed robbery and kidnapping kingpin in the Eastern parts of the country, suspected of being responsible for series of high profile kidnappings, armed robberies and murder. Some of them included the kidnapping of the Igwe of Ihembosi in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of the state and the kidnapping of the traditional ruler of Ukpo in Dunukofia Local Government Area, Igwe Robbert Eze. His gang was also responsible for the murder of three policemen in Ozubulu , the violent attack on Amichi and Ukpor police divisions in Nnewi South Local Government Area and the killing of five policemen at Okija. Nasarawa also confirmed that some of the guns and ammunitions recovered at Ifedike's house were those stolen when the gang invaded the police stations in Amichi and Ukpor.

During the raid on Ifedike's compound, the police discovered sophisticated arms and ammunition in a plastic cover concealed underground behind the bungalow he built for his native-doctor father. In an armoury found in the compound were 27 AK 47 riffles, one K2 riffle, two type-06 riffles, one general-purpose machine gun, one rocket launcher, 17 rockets, six pump action guns, three dane guns, one barrett pistol and 13 rocket grenades. Also found were 12,800 rounds of AK 47 live ammunition, 530 rounds of LAR ammunition, 95 rounds of GPMG live ammunition, 1000 rounds of K2 live ammunition and 143 magazines.

An underground structure in the compound was suspected to be the place he kept his victims. There was also an extended building with toilet facilities behind the bungalow suspected to be the place he used as a cell. In a small building attached to the wall near the gate was a shrine which his father, Mr. Patrick Ifedike, known in the locality as “Ogbujingidi the native doctor” is said to use.

Those who knew Ifedike say that while he roamed about as a free man terrorising communities in Anambra State, he exhibited stupendous wealth. He had hotels in Ghana, in Rivers State, in Abia State and Anambra State. He drove a fleet of SUV cars. It is said that the palatial mansion he built in his village which was demolished by his irate community in the week he was arrested was built within few months. He claimed he was doing business in Ghana. In actual fact, his “business” was armed robbery and kidnapping people and collecting millions of pounds as ransom from the families of his victims.

Ifedike was arrested as he drove into his compound with three SUV escort cars, blaring a siren. Now he has called off all his bluff as he cools off in a police cell. But the war continues in Anambra and other Nigerian States where these hoodlums have consistently terrorised innocent, law-abiding citizens. The Police has vowed not to rest until, like Ikedife, all the kidnappers and armed robbers in the state call off their bluff.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Emeka Asinugo and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Emeka Asinugo