30th September, 2010
President Goodluck Jonathan has deployed soldiers to Aba, the Abia State capital, SouthÂ East Nigeria as the state slides into anarchy.
Reports have it that the soldiers, who have arrived the commercial city, have opened theÂ Aba- Port Harcourt highway which had been deserted because of the siege on the city byÂ armed robbers and kidnappers.
Traders have also called for a state of emergency to be declared following the terrorÂ being unleashed on the residents by armed robbers and kidnappers.
The once bubbling commercial nerve centre is being deserted as residents are fleeing theÂ city in droves.
The traders have begun a week-long strike to protest the increasing state of insecurityÂ in the wake of the kidnap of 15 school children on Monday and closure ofÂ banks becauseÂ of incessant raids by armed robbers.Aba has beenÂ under siege by criminal gangs forÂ months now. Armed robbery attacks and incessant raping of under-aged and the aged are nowÂ the order of the day.
On Monday kidnappers seized 15 pupils of Abayi International School in Isi-ala Ngwa LocalÂ Government Area of Abia State on their way to school.
All banks are closed following the killing of an Engineer from South-WestÂ working inÂ Ogbo Hill area of the besieged city on Monday 27 September.
Bank workers in the city dominated by people from the South West have vowed to stay awayÂ from work and asked their kinsmen to leave Aba before 4 October and will not returnÂ unless government brings the situation to normal.
A survey across the city showed that Aba Welfare Organization of Market Association,Â AWOMA, comprising 75 trading unions doing business in the streets of Aba, started oneÂ week strike onÂ Monday 27 September to protest the increasing insecurity in the city.
â€œAfter 4 October, if the situation does not improve, the strike will continue. We wantÂ the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Aba. Everybody is dying,â€™â€™Â declared a trader who pleaded anonymity.
Investigations revealed that the criminal gangs have taken over all the entry and pointsÂ into the city. The flash points include-Asa\Umunka, Obeyi junction along Port HarcourtÂ Expressway. Another gang is at Ogbo Hill leading to Akwa Ibom, Isiala Ngwa-Umuahia roadÂ and Ariaria \Tonimas Junction. Their modus operandi include striking in military, policeÂ or Bakassi Boys uniforms or in mufti.
The situation has gone so bad that each street has its own kidnappersâ€™ gang and noticesÂ are served house to house with a special amount each landlord must pay, depending on howÂ big his house or compound is.
The rates range from N500, 000, N1m, N2m, N3m, N4m and N5m and above. Virtually all theÂ landlords in the city have been forced to flee to their to villages.
P.M.NEWS gathered that the kingpin of the gangs is known as Osisi ka Nkwu (meaningÂ Â aÂ tree that is bigger than palm tree). He is said to be son of the soil and his second inÂ command popularly known asÂ â€˜STONEâ€™.
His boss Osisi ka Ngwu, may have been settled by the government to pipe low and hasÂ ceased fire, while STONE refused to lay down his arms because he wants something biggerÂ from the powers that be. He is said to be from Imo State.
The State Vigilante Services-BAKASSI BOYS are accused of killing innocent people andÂ allegedly selling their parts for rituals.
There was a reported incident where a boy was asked to rape his mother but was killedÂ when he refused to do so. Everybody in the city blames the unfortunate situation on theÂ politics of the state.
Government officials are also accused of having a hand in the ugly situation thereby notÂ wanting it to stop.
P.M.NEWS further learnt that the Anti-Terrorist Squad is not empowered to rout the gangsÂ thereby complicating the ugly situation as they watch helplessly at the suffering people.
When P.M.NEWSÂ went around the city yesterday, security operatives were not seen in majorÂ bus stops. However, with the arrival of soldiers, a measure of security is expected to beÂ restored to the once thriving commercial city.