From the capital of old Eastern Region-Enugu State , Igwe Uche Nwachime in Nkanu, was abducted and later slaughtered because his relations had refused to pay ransom on time as requested by the kidnappers. Report also had it that the proprietor of Gold Riveri Hotel Enugu was kidnapped and later released upon the payment of a N5 million ransom.
In Abia State , which is fast becoming the most notorious state where kidnapping business booms, the chairman of Enyimba Football was kidnapped. Justice Awa U. Kalu was shot in a failed kidnapping bid. Some Imo State indigenes had also been kidnapped recently; they include Mr. Celestine Ngaobiwu, a member of the Imo State House of Assembly and two sons of the Speaker of the Imo House of Assembly.
Three persons were killed earlier in the year when unknown gunmen kidnapped a movie star Peter Edochie in Onitsha, the commercial nerve centre of Anambra State . According to reports, the victims were killed to facilitate Edochie’s kidnappings. The actor hit the limelight as Okonkwo in the television adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s book, “Things fall Apart.” He was kidnapped after his bodyguards were overpowered.
Few days after the Edochie incident, about six people were killed in Imo State when kidnappers reportedly invaded Orlu and Ikeduru areas of the state. Two kidnapped Indians were reportedly rescued with some of the gang members seriously injured when a team of policemen confronted the gang at Ama Nwozuzu in Ikeduru. The cases are endless.
The wide-ranging state of insecurity in the South east, security experts say, had reached a stage where practically everybody is now worried about the frightening dimension the region is headed.
Presently, hardly can people sleep with both eyes closed for fear of being kidnapped. Businessmen, politicians and other wealthy persons have taken voyage as well as with their businesses for fear of being kidnapped. In the last few years, kidnapping and hostage taking have moved from the Niger Delta creeks to Ndi-igboland.
The ogre has broadened and taken unfathomable derivation in the land where many able-bodied but unemployed youths proliferate. Within the South-east, Abia State is the epicentre followed by others in the region. Everybody is now concern. It is expected against obtainable verification that the rich government officials, traditional rulers, elected politicians and their immediate families are now the target of the men of evil.
There appears not to be hiding place for the rich, even though some of them have relocated their families outside the South-east geo-political zone or outside the country. Even Lagos that was once regarded as insecure state is now a heaven of choice for many.
Recently, the profit-making activities in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State, were crippled as banks were forced to close their doors against demanding customers after frequent violent attacks on banks. At a point, the evil men outsmarted all procedures adopted by the banks to avoid them.
“While insecurity disrupts socio-economic and political activities in the country, it also slows down the pace of economic growth and development. Many investors continue to flee the country”, an Aba based bank manager who does not want his name mentioned, told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY.
Sadly, the news the international community has about the South east is that it is most unsafe to live and do business. To be sure, the World Bank recently rated Imo State as one of the worst states in the country to do business. “Before any foreigner contemplates of coming to Nigeria, he or she would not only be calculating the high cost of investing in the country, but also the safety of his or her life”, the bank manger said.
The National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) recently expressed regret over the serious security problems in the South east region. It said that “the security challenges had worsened the already bad and unfriendly business environment that is negatively affecting the growth of businesses and socio-economic activities in the area.”
“If industries are closing shops and investors are not forthcoming because of insecurity and other attendant problems faced by businesses, then the future, particularly that of the children should agitate the minds of everybody.”
Apart from NACCIMA, the police, states in the south east and other segments of the society are worried. Recently peeved by the state of insecurity- kidnapping in Anambra, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, announced the deployment of 16 units of anti-riot policemen to the area to complement the efforts of policemen attached to the state commands. But in spite of this, security experts and monitors say the level of insecurity in the region had heightened.
The chief police officer had partly blamed the high wave of crime in the country, especially in the South-east on materialism and loss of societal values. He noted that people were ready to do anything to get rich and be celebrated in the society. While also blaming the high rate of kidnapping and armed robbery in these areas on unemployment, he however said that most of the graduates of Nigerian universities are half-baked, but carry about certificates they could not even defend.