The refusal of residents of several villages in Anambra State to provide information concerning criminal activity in their localities has been criticized by police.
In a news conference on Monday, Commissioner of Police, CP Echeng Echeng, declared that there was nothing unusual about the gunmen terrorizing Anambra State to deserve the label of “unknown gunmen.”
In response to rumors that the dead Anambra legislator, Hon Okey Okoye, was assassinated because he refused to pay a ransom, the commissioner claimed the allegations were false.
Echeng said: “I’m not aware that any ransom was demanded, or any ransom paid.”
He said: “We have been saying unknown gunmen is not the right name for these criminals. We are trying to mystify something that is not just there.
“It is time we go into demystifying those people. These people are not spirits, they live with us, they are our nephews, our cousins, our brothers, and they live in communities. We know who they are. The problem of security is that of total silence, nobody sees something, nobody hears something and nobody says something.
“Security is collective and everyone has a part to play. Crimes are localized, and they happen in our communities. We should be able to come up with information about what is happening in our communities, not glorifying them and tagging them as unknown gunmen, otherwise, we will end up not making headways.
“We know them, we have actually arrested some of them and they are human beings. I want us to also shift the narrative that these criminals are Fulani. We have arrested some and taken out some during gun duels.
“So, when the community who should help to contribute to security decide to stay quiet, that is not a good sign. Last week a person I didn’t know told me that a team of gunmen were operating at Umunze in a Hummer Jeep, I sent a team after them, and we were told they have moved to Umichu and we pursued them and were able to take out four of them.
“I don’t know the man who gave me the information, but we used the information to fight the criminals. That black Hummer Jeep you see there (pointing to it) was recovered from the criminals. You can see what information can do. That is how powerful information is, and we expect people to give information.”
Meanwhile, the commissioner disclosed that men of the command have decided to go all out on criminals. He said their dens have been identified, and soon, news of their exploit would be made known.
“You will hear of it from tonight. We will not spare any of them. Forget the narrative they push that they live in the forest, they create that impression and then return to the communities where they live.
“What they have in the forest are just shrines, and we have visited and destroyed most of them. These criminals live among the people,” he insisted.
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