No fewer than 2, 000 youths took to the streets of Owerri, the Imo State capital yesterday to protest the rising wave of kidnapping, ritual killings and the recent killing of the protocol officer to the deputy governor of the state, Laz Anyanwu.
The youths accused the police of not doing enough to tackle the menace. The protesters, who wore black shirts, were not deterred by the presence of armed policemen and soldiers, who had blocked entrance to the Government House, as they chanted anti-police songs and demanded explanation from the police on the current security situation in the state.
The leader of the protesters, Emeka Ohasiri, said the protest, tagged Black Monday, was a peaceful walk through Owerri to create awareness on the insecurity in the state, “we are trying to register our displeasure over the killings, arson, armed robbery and kidnapping and we want to bring it to the notice of the state government because we can no longer keep quite while the state is ravaged by insecurity because nobody is safe in this state any longer.
“The most worrisome is the incessant kidnappings which has continued unchecked. Presently, there is no family in Imo State that had not been affected one way or the other; we are all victims of this security collapse. We want to be reassured that those responsible for these crimes are brought to book, especially those that killed the protocol officer to the deputy governor, Mr. Laz Anyanwu.”
The youths who were incensed by the refusal of the Commissioner of Police, Baba Adisa Bolanta, to address the crowd, barricaded the road leading to the command headquarters, while displaying placards with various inscriptions such as, ‘youths say no to further kidnapping and killing of our people’, ‘our state is turning to a killing field, we demand a stop to this madness’, expose the kidnappers and ritual killers now’ and ‘government should give us security in the state’, among others.
However, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Vitalis Onugu, described as unfair the insinuation that the police were not doing enough to stem the tide of crime in the state, especially kidnapping, adding that, “after all the command had done to reduced the crime rate in the state to the barest minimum, it is mischievous for anybody to say that the police have done nothing. The protest is sponsored to smear the image of the police in the state.
“What have they done to assist the police, have they volunteered any credible information that was not followed up by the police to arrest criminals and kidnappers?”