Armed robbers and pickpockets have taken over major towns such as Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka, among others, in Anambra State. Traders and travellers are robbed and dispossessed of their belongings in the broad day light at the former Aba Park, Upper Iweka, Onitsha. Most of the robbers operate in groups with logs of wood and iron bars while others hide under the umbrella of market unions to extort money from commuters and passengers.
The police at Awada in Idemili North Local Government Area of the state have arrested and charged to court 47 suspected pickpockets, and those who snatched bags and valuables at Upper Iweka and environs. When our correspondent visited the Awada Police Station, a senior officer confirmed that the police had arrested many suspected robbers, who had snatched handsets, handbags and money. He said some of those arrested were able to clear themselves of the allegation and were released while others were charged to court.
The officer, who pleaded anonymity, however, said the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Harunna Mohammed, was in a better position to speak on the issue. Meanwhile, a high ranking police officer in the state, who did not want his name mentioned, said the rate of crime in Anambra State became high and worrisome since all the Special Anti- Robbery Squared were returned to the state Command Headquarters.
The officer said all the units of SARS in the state had been directed to operate from the SARS headquarters at Awkuzu in Oyi Local Government Area thereby making it impossible for them to continue their complementing policing effectively and efficiently. He said: “SARS is a special police outfit which is voluntary but the DPOs and other high ranking officers think that SARS has taken away their job. I think they misadvised the commissioner before he took that decision and this is the multiplier effect.”
When contacted on the phone, the PPRO confirmed that there were reports of pickpockets and some others who were calming to be members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB)