Criminals take over Abia State

Posted by News Express | 28 September 2013 | 16,161 times

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In Abia State, crime has become the order of the day with the alarming and ever-increasing crime wave. For the innocent citizen, it is like a cockroach wading through a congregation of roosters. Armed robbery, kidnapping illicit drug dealing, child trafficking and now the fastest growing crime in the state – baby factories –pose a serious threat to the existence and image of the state, as well as the safety of its citizens.

Sadly, this new trend which has been condemned by all and sundry, despite the fierce fight that has been waged against it by the security operatives, seems to be increasing on a daily basis. Now it seems that the more the security agencies fight to eliminate them, they spring up in their dozens. The unfortunate fact is that the devilish act is fast spreading across all nooks and carries of the state like wildfire, as hardly a day passes without the police or other security agencies arresting or parading young girls, sometimes under-aged ones.

Since the exposure of baby factories and child trafficking in Abia State some18 months ago, not less than 80 young girls have been paraded by the police and all of them were arrested at local hospitals and maternity homes built and managed by people who claim to belong to the Christian faith. In addition, most of these teenagers whose ages range between 13 and 20 years, claim to be students of either secondary schools or tertiary institutions. What agitates the mind therefore is why these under-aged ladies have decided to make money through such means, abandoning their education.

On Monday, September 23, at least 12 girls including a 14-year-old JSS 2 student of a secondary school at Aba were picked up by the police at the Isaac Okwuonu maternity home at Ogbor Hill Aba. This maternity and its staff have been in the news since the break of the baby factory story months ago. Sadly, the maternity home has remained in business.

Most of the girls interviewed claim that the maternity home often tricks them and short-changes them by stealing their newborn babies in the night and selling them without their consent. One of such ladies, Gift Lawrence who claimed that she was a first year student of Michael Okpara University Umudike told journalists that her baby disappeared mysteriously after birth and that she was still sorting out things with the management of Isaac Okwuonu maternity when she was picked up by the police.

The 12 pregnant girls arrested on Monday at the at the maternity home are 19- year-old Precious Ogbonna who lives at 190 Cameroon Road; 20-year-old Mary Dickson of 28 Akpa Road Ogbor Hill Aba; Happiness Chinyere, 19 years, of Umuire Umuoba in Isiala Ngwa South; 20-year-old Goodluck Erondu of Umuagu Umuoba Isiala Ngwa South; 19-year old Gift Lawrence of 15/17 Igwebuike Street, off Ohanko Road, Aba; 14-year-old Favour Kalu of No 28 Enugu Street/Obolies Road Aba, and Ann Okechukwu of Ohuru Isimiri in Obingwa.

Others are: Rose Ubani of Avo Mgoko, Itu Ngwa in Obingwa LGA; Uchechi Omwunali of Umuire Eziama Ntigha in Isiala Ngwa North LGA; Favour David of Nkanu Amaodu Awkananaw, Enugu State; Chikodi Samuel of Akpaa Mbator in Obingwa LGA, and Victor Okoro of Okobumo Essien Udim LGA, Akwa Ibom State.

Natrating the incident of their arrest, the Commissioner of Police, Abia Sate Command, Mr Usman Tilli Ababakar, told journalists that the suspects were rounded up at Isaac Okwuonu’s Hospital and Maternity home situated at No 127 Ikot Ekpene Road Ogbor Hill Aba between September 17 and 18.

He disclosed that the owner of the hospital, Dr Chinyere Chukwuemeka Okwuonu now at large, engaged the young pregnant girls and continued to hide them till they were delivered of their babies whom he would sell and give the under-aged innocent girls some meager amount between N10,000 and N15,000 depending on the sex of the babies. He stated that one of such girls, Gift Lawrence from Item in Bende LGA, delivered a baby girl on September 4.

In her statement, 14-year-old Favour Kalu who claimed she was a JSS 2 student of God’s Organised Secondary School, Aba said she was impregnated by one Stanley, a trader. She said when she found out that she was pregnant, she informed her mother who personally brought her to the maternity home with the aim that when she puts to bed, the child would be left in a Motherless Babies home while she would go back to school to complete her education before returning to re-claim her baby.

Kidnapping is another vice that has found its roots in Abia State. Virtually everyone now lives in fear in the state irrespective of social status. In Abia, kidnappers can take persons hostage for as low the sum as N20,000. Kidnapping in the state has assumed an alarming dimension which has received widespread condemnations from well meaning people of Nigeria and even the international community. The first reported case of kidnapping took place on September 27, 2008 at Aba involving the kidnap of 15 school children who were later released perhaps after the payment of a ransom. And ever since then, there have been cases of kidnapping involving women, children, the wealthy and foreigners.

Usually, victims are abducted along the road leading to either a village or town and kept in the bush. This is the most used method as the bush provides a safe haven for the kidnappers who also perfect their mission in the bush. Sometimes, the kidnappers resort to the kidnapping of Church members especially the wealthy ones for the purpose of ransom. The kidnappers either pretend to be worshippers or hang around the church premises to perpetrate their plan. In most cases, the victims are mostly children and women of wealthy church members or the clergy perceived to be very rich.

In the last one week, at least 11 persons – 10 men and a lady, have been arrested and paraded by the police in Abia State for allegedly kidnapping and robbing citizens in some parts of the state. The suspects arrested for robbery and kidnapping are Eze Chukwuemeka, of Igbere in Bende LGA and Ogba Iroha of Ohafia LGA. Another suspect, Amaka Oyemachi, a 30-year-old lady who hails from Amuzu Obinubi Ubakala, and a member of an armed robbery gang ravaging the expressway along Ntigha junction where they attempted to rob commuters. Police disclosed that Amaka Onyemachi was found with a shotgun concealed in her handbag while members of hergang jumped into the bush and abandoned her when the security operatives struck.

Also paraded were Akoma Emmanuel of Ohuru Ndoki in Ukwa East and Wilson Udochukwu from Achingali Obowo of Imo State who were accused along with others at large for snatching a car belonging to one Tochukwu Ibeaihu and kidnapping. Chidi Nwosu, Benson Ojikere, Chinonso Ikpegbu and Emeka Acha were amongst their victims.

Another case that attracted on-lookers was the parading of two men one of whom was said to be a man of God. The supposed man of God, Pastor Anthony Azumara, resident pastor of Apostolic Christian Church Mission, ACCM, Umuocha in Obingwa LGA and his accomplice, Ikechi Abiri of Umuocha Village, were arrested for being in possession of three drums of Indian hemp, recovered from the pastor’s bedroom.

Stressing the alarming crime rate in the state, President of the Oha Ngwa Association, Echefulam Louis Anugwa, declared that insecurity has made the community unsafe for investment. “Our land is acquiring a certain form of notoriety in crime. No one will invest in a crime-infested environment. Many of us are now weary to travel home,” he said.

Moreover, despite efforts by the police as well as other government agencies, crime rate in the state has continued to increase.

•Credit: Saturday Pilot.

Source: News Express

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