Police officers deployed to the South-East states of Imo, Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu states are currently deserting their stations and now prefer to come in mufti the few times they are at work.
SaharaReporters learnt that it is also increasingly difficult for the policemen to arrest suspects in neighbourhoods or keep their suspects in the cell, as is the custom before cases are charged to court.
It was gathered that most policemen, particularly those who are not Igbo indigenes, are desperately seeking redeployments amidst fear of the incessant attacks by “unknown gunmen.”
SaharaReporters had on April 19 reported that most police officers in Abia wear mufti after heavily armed men attacked Uzuakoli Police Station in the Bende Local Government Area in a string of other attacks on other stations.
“You can’t find many police stations opened except those in the centre of urban towns which are close to other government offices and establishments. Such is the situation we have among us. We cannot police the rural areas. Our men have fled. It is expected because the situation is worsening and the federal might seems to be weakening,” a source stated.
According to Daily Trust, with the absence of police officers from stations came the disappearance of checkpoints in the South-East states.
Moving from Garki, in Enugu South Local Government Area to Camp in Enugu North, and heading to the New Market through Trade Fair Complex areas in Trans-Ekulu to Nike Lake Hotel, in Enugu East Local Government Area – all within the state capital – there is no security checkpoint on any of the roads.
This is unlike in the past when security checkpoints were mounted for stop-and-search exercises on motorists.
The roads and streets of Enugu, the capital of Enugu State, are lacking uniformed police officers and the usual security checkpoints. This is not unconnected with the hike in violent attacks on security men and formations in the zone.
It was also observed that police personnel no longer move about freely in their uniform.
“The fear of attack from unknown armed men is the beginning of wisdom now,” said a female police officer.
The same scenario was observed in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, as most checkpoints have been abandoned with no personnel to man them.
A resident, who does not want to be named said, “I can confirm to you that there are no checkpoints in Aba again. The policemen have all deserted over the fear of possible killings by unknown gunmen. Policemen no longer patrol again.”
Military checkpoints are also deserted, especially in the evening.
Meanwhile, residents of Aba have decried the rapid increase in the number of youths currently getting involved in cult-related activities.
Findings show that some popular areas are now controlled by cultists who reign supreme, with little or no confrontation from security operatives.
Ogbor-Hill is controlled by a group called Supreme Vikings; Over-Rail by Aro-Baga; Osisioma by Aiye; Ndiegoro by Aro-Baga, while different cults control other areas.
A police sergeant, who first expressed fear talking to our correspondent, said security operatives are no longer safe in the state.
“Why are they killing and attacking us? We do this job with fear. We don’t know if we’ll return home alive after leaving the house in the morning. Most of the policemen killed have young children; who will take care of them?” he queried.
“I don’t have the connection else; I would have moved my family out of here. I have to move my family out of Aba for fear of possible attacks,” he added.
Meanwhile, at least seven policemen face an orderly room trial for deserting their duty posts in Imo State.
There are strong indications that police officers attached to the Imo State Police Command are currently seeking to be redeployed out of the state following a series of attacks on security personnel by suspected members of Eastern Security Network, the paramilitary wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra.
Some of the policemen are seeking help from both serving and retired senior police officers and their political godfathers.
Investigations revealed that the officers seek to be deployed to investigating units such as the Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Inspector General of Police (IGP) Monitoring Unit, and special Squad.
It was also learnt that the affected personnel are currently meeting with their contacts within and outside the state and are willing to pay for their prayers to be granted.
While some senior officers believe that the officers should remain in the state to tackle the insecurity, others have already reached out to the police high command to facilitate the deployment.
Some of the officers also based their request on the need to be reunited with members of their families.