The police in Anambra State have accused residents of unwillingness to provide information on gunmen terrorising the state.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Echeng Echeng, disclosed this on Monday while addressing journalists in Awka.
A lawmaker in the state was beheaded a few days ago after gunmen abducted him.
Mr Echeng said the gunmen who carry out the attacks in the state are not unknown.
“There is nothing unknown about the gunmen terrorising Anambra State. We have been trying to mystify something that is not just there,” Mr Echeng said.
“These people are not spirits. They live with us. They are our nephews, our cousins, our brothers, and they live in our communities. We know who they are,” he said.
According to him, “the narrative that the gunmen are Fulani herders is not true. The people operating as gunmen are Igbos.”
The commissioner described the claim that the gunmen live in the forest as false. He said the gunmen usually return to their communities after they were done with the attacks.
He stressed that the terror group only has shrines in the forest, adding that some shrines had been destroyed by police operatives.
“These criminals live among the people. The major challenge police are having in the fight against the gunmen in Anambra State is that residents, especially community leaders in the affected communities, are not giving information about the identities of these killer men to us.
“We should be able to come up with information of what is happening in our communities, not glorifying them and tagging them as unknown gunmen,” Mr Echeng added.
Security in Nigeria’s South-east has deteriorated in recent times, with attacks by armed persons reported almost daily across the region.
Anambra State has witnessed some of the worst attacks in the region. The attacks often target security agencies, government officials, and facilities.
The governor said the visit to the IPOB leader was part of his “wider consultations with critical stakeholders” to ensure lasting peace and security in the South-east.
During his inauguration as the state governor, Mr Soludo had called for a dialogue with IPOB and similar groups in the state and region.
The governor, thereafter, announced an amnesty programme for the gunmen and declared an end to the sit-at-home order in the state. But residents have continued to obey the Monday sit-at-home order in the state and across the region, mostly out of fear.
The attacks by the gunmen increased in the state shortly after Mr Soludo’s inauguration and announcement of an end to the sit-at-home order in the state.
The Nigerian government has accused IPOB of being responsible for the deadly attacks in the region. But the group has repeatedly denied their involvement in the attacks.
The separatist group is leading agitation for an independent state of Biafra to be carved out from the South-east and some parts of the South-south.
Leader of the secessionist group, Mr Kanu, is currently being detained in Abuja where he is facing trial for treason.
Mr Kanu appeared in court on May 18, in continuation of his trial. He is to appear in court again on May 26.
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