The increase in the activities of herdsmen and kidnappers in Enugu State in particular and the South-East zone generally has drawn the ire of major stakeholders, who have called on the Federal Government to take drastic action to tackle the problem.
The stakeholders also lamented the dismantling of security checkpoints in the state, an action they said has encouraged hoodlums to operate easily.
Specifically, some of them have requested for the transfer of the state Commissioner of Police, Suleiman Balarabe, saying Enugu, as the capital of the Eastern region, needs an experienced police commissioner, adding that the current one may be good, but may not be experienced enough to man a big state like Enugu as “this is his first posting to head a command.”
The stakeholders said: “We are not dismissing him; he is a lawyer who we learned has been working at the headquarters. He may have put in his best, but we say his best is not enough for a big place like Enugu.
“We are urging the Inspector General of Police to repost him to some other smaller place and post an experienced commissioner here. The situation is getting worse by the day.”
Recall that a group, Enugu Youth Coalition for Good Governance, EYCGG, had last week expressed concern over growing insecurity in the state and called for the removal of the police commissioner.
The youths said that their call for his removal was based on their “objective assessment of the commissioner’s performance and the need to protect lives and properties in the state.”
In a statement signed by Ikechukwu Ibe and Jude Onyema, the group’s Coordinator and Secretary, respectively, EYCGG warned that “if something urgent is not done to rejig the security architecture of the state, our state’s enviable status will be jeopardised.
“These recent ugly experience was never encountered in Enugu State in the past three years when the immediate past Commissioner of Police, Mr. Danmallam Mohammed was in the saddle.”
Also, another major stakeholder in the state alleged that herdsmen that have been committing atrocities in Enugu troop in from Lokpanta in Abia State, a boundary community between Abia and Enugu, where the cattle market is located.
They urged the Inspector-General of Police to prevail on the Commissioner of Police in Abia State and the AIG in charge of Zone 9 to team up and tackle the problem.
Recently, the traditional ruler of Lokpanta lamented the activities of herdsmen in the community, saying the location of the market in his community has turned to a curse rather a blessing.
Bishop of Anglican Diocese of Enugu, Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, had observed during the crisis over the killing of Rev. Fr. Paul Offu, that Enugu State does not have enough Police personnel, saying the rural areas of the state are insecure and called on the Inspector-General to post more policemen to the state.
Meanwhile, students in the state have also joined in the demand for the removal of the Commissioner of Police, saying the conditions in the state is worsening to a situation that would warrant the people protecting themselves.
Operating on the platform of National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, the students said their call was based on the fact that “Mr. Suleiman Balarabe lacks capacity to secure the state.”
In a statement by the state chairman of NANS, Darlington Ugwuegbe, the students said they were worried that Enugu State, known for its “peaceful and secure nature has of recent witnessed some strange and sudden security lapses since the deployment of Mr. Suleiman Balarabe as Commissioner of Police.”
According to them, their investigations revealed that Mr. Balarabe has not served as commissioner of police before his deployment to Enugu State, stressing that the sudden security lapses in the state could not be unconnected with his lack of experience in his present assignment.
The students, therefore, gave the Federal Government and Inspector-General of Police “a two-week ultimatum to redeploy the Commissioner of Police or they will embark on a peaceful protest to drive home their demands.”
According to them, “Balarabe does not have contemporary policing strategies. Enugu State has been adjudged the most peaceful state in Nigeria after the FCT and this was confirmed by the Nigeria Police Force; but all of a sudden, everything seemed to have changed.
“We demand for urgent and total overhaul of the security architecture in Enugu State, especially the Police. We also demand for the deployment of more security personnel in Enugu State.”
The students claimed that their investigations revealed that Balarabe’s deployment to Enugu State, prior to the last general election, was facilitated by chieftains of All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state, “who were only interested in the removal of the immediate past Police Commissioner, Mr. Danmallam Mohammed, for political reasons.
“We, therefore, give the Federal Government and the Inspector-General a two-week ultimatum to redeploy Balarabe out of Enugu State, after which we will not hesitate to stage a peaceful protest to drive home our demand, which is in the overall interest of the people of the state, especially the youths.
“While the leaders of APC in Enugu State went to Abuja to push for the removal of our former Commissioner of Police, Mr. Danmallam Mohammed, to enable them actualise their political ambition, they forgot to ask for an experienced and capable police officer to replace him.
“Today, they are seeing the consequences of their self-centered action and they have refused to call for his redeployment.”
‘Enugu was peaceful before elections’
In a related call, another group, a concerned socio-political group, Enugu Peace and Development Mandate, EPDM, has also lent its voice to the call for improved security in the state, saying the current Commissioner of Police cannot do the job.
In a statement by its chairman, Mr. Emman Ezekwume, the group said before the removal of the immediate past commissioner of police in the state, Mr. Danmallam Mohammed, ahead of the last general elections, Enugu State was peaceful and ranked one of the most peaceful states in the country.
Ezekwume regretted that on assumption of office, the present Commissioner of Police, Mr. Suleiman Balarabe, dismantled security checkpoints in the state and went further to disband the effective Command Operations Unit of the Force headed by a Deputy Commissioner of Police with proven track record in crime fighting.
According to Ezekwume, “we have observed with dismay that since the coming of Balarabe as the Police Commissioner, the state has witnessed more security lapses in quick succession than ever before.
“This is a clear case of failure of operational intelligence on the part of the Police and other security agencies in the state. It is very clear that Balarabe, who was an administrative officer before his posting to Enugu as Commissioner, lacks the understanding of the rudimentary security operational modalities of the Force.
“We want our President, Muhammadu Buhari, to act urgently by redeploying Balarabe before it becomes too late. Enugu State is too strategic and important for an inexperienced security officer.
“We are convinced that further delay in removing Balarabe will worsen the security situation in the state.”