By Phil Okose, Onitsha
Pervasive fear gripped residents of Ogidi in Idemili North local government area headquarters of Anambra state over the weekend following the killing of two suspected cultists at Oye Ogidi market, along Old Onitsha/Awka/Enugu road on Friday.
Orient Daily gathered that the victims were standing at Oye Ogidi market, waiting for commuter vehicle at around 4:30pm when, suddenly, a red colour Toyota Camry pulled up, shot them at a close range with AK 47 rifles and sped off immediately.
A witness to the dramatic shooting told Orient Daily in confidence that it was like a scene in a movie. “My brother, we have never seen this one before in Ogidi. All of a sudden, a car pulled up where these two dead boys were standing; maybe they were waiting for a vehicle to get to their destination and two people came out from the car and shot them dead”.
“I am not sure of their number because we ran away but they were about four and they sped off after killing them. They did not collect any of their belongings. They must be cultists or assassins the way they acted”.
Confirming the incident, the Ogidi divisional police officer, DPO, Mr Mark Ijarafu, referred this reporter to the state police public relations officer, PPRO, Mr Haruna Mohammed for details.
The Anambra state police command’s public relations officer, SP Haruna Mohammed who later confirmed the incident in a statement, said it was a cult battle.
“Patrol teams rushed to the scene and took the victims to Iyienu Hospital for medical attention but were confirmed dead on arrival. Meanwhile, the police are intensifying efforts to apprehend perpetrators in order to bring them to justice” Mohammed disclosed.
Recall that former state police commissioner, Mr Mustapha Dandaura, recently raised alarm over the alarming rate of cult clashes in Anambra, disclosing that about 40 people have been killed in cultism-related violence in the state between March and June 2019 while more than 100 persons have been wounded and were receiving treatment in different hospitals.
Dandaura said cultism spread across all the communities, especially places where there were traditional title tussle, adding that families and communities must join in the fight against the vice. He, however, says the police were winning the war through the Special Anti-Cultism Squad (SPAC) Unit, headed by CSP Chris Bassey. He, however, decried the absence of a legal framework that is amenable to successful prosecution of suspects.
In his reaction, the state chairman of Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, Comrade Vincent Ezekwueme stated that, “SPACS commander has, on assumption of duty, employed different devices to curtail cultism and that they worked out. Under age cultists are counselled and none-cultists released immediately after investigation and parents of such youths thank the commander for his human face approach on the course of investigation”.
“The police through him has been able to curtail cultism and other crimes and the police should be encouraged to spur them to do more instead of castigating them,” the CLO boss stated.
The president general of Okpoko community, Hon Edwin Emesinwa also commended the state government and police command for its intensified efforts to rid the states off criminals and cultists. According to him, cultism has drastically reduced in Anambra.
“I commend the police commissioner for the effort of Special Anti-Cultism Squad, SPACS, led by its ommander, Mr Christopher Bassey, (CSP) who, in conjunction with Operation Puff Adder, have been able to sack cultists out of the state. Do you know that we now sleep with our two eyes closed in Okpoko. I thank the state police command for the type of person put as the SPACS commander at Enugwu-Ukwu. He is a no-nonsense man when it comes to fighting cultism and other related criminal activities.”
By Phil Okose, Onitsha