STATE OF EMERGENCY: DAVID MARK UNDER FIRE
Senate President, David Mark, has come under fire for his call on the Federal Government to consider imposing a regime of emergency rule in the states of the South East where kidnapping has become intractable.
Reacting to the Senate President's position yesterday, Chief Charles Ahize, the leader of Obigbo, a pan-Igbo socio-political group, said Mark was either anti-Igbo or has yet to appreciate the reality on ground as it related to the menace of kidnapping.
Ahize, who spoke in a telephone interview, wondered 'why a high-ranking officer of the Federal Republic, as senior as the third citizen of this country, would display such utter lack of sensitivity and total ignorance over an issue that is at the heart of the continued co-existence of the various groups in the country.'
He asked: 'On how many states of other zones, where they have made it a habit of wasting lives with gusto, and at regular intervals, has the Senate President called for the imposition of state of emergency?'
Is it not before our very eyes that all manners of religious bigots make several other states ungovernable? How many of those other places did they impose emergency rule? Why must it now be in the South-East that everyone is talking of imposing state of emergency, even as the authorities have yet to offer any sustainable solution to the problem at hand?'
According to Ahize, the solution to the problem of kidnapping in the South East zone, especially in Imo, Anambra and Abia, lies in both men and material. 'Although it is a tough decision to make, I think the first step to solving the problem would be for the Inspector General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo, to post out all the policemen in those states', he said.
The reason for this, he insists, is that the police know the kingpins of this menace and have become a part of the problem. 'They are always shielding these people. They wine and dine with them everyday and are even on the payroll of some of them.
Ahize said it was only after the police leadership had addressed this problem of its personnel that it could then take up the issue of equipment and gadgets with which the policemen need to function effectively.
'Hoodlums can't be roaming over the place with sophisticated weapons and you'll be expecting the baton-bearing policemen to arrest them with his bare hands, Ahize said.'
He continued: 'The whole place is swarming with police checkpoints and roadblocks but you discover that from one checkpoint to the next one - sometimes, just 25 metres away, there is no walkie talkie or any communication gadget to link them.'
He said the Federal Government, rather than consider the 'insincere calls for the imposition of emergency rule,' should genuinely try to address the problem.' 'Sometimes,' he pointed out, the solution could even lie in just fixing the federal road that cuts through an area.
'The solution can never be emergency rule,' Ahize stressed.