Anambra lawmaker’s killing invokes panic, killers vow to go after politicians
May 31, 2022
IKENNA OBIANERI writes that the kidnapping and subsequent murder of the lawmaker representing the Aguata II constituency in the Anambra State House of Assembly, Dr Okechukwu Okoye, by unknown gunmen are indications of lawlessness the state has descended into
Recently, Anambra State has come under severe attacks from “unknown” gunmen, despite the seemingly unrelenting efforts to end their onslaught by the state government and security agencies. All the attacks and killings remain unsolved as the concerned authorities do not go beyond the rhetorics each time the criminal elements perpetrate the evil act.
The lawmaker representing Aguta II in the state House of Assembly, Dr. Okechukwu. Okoye, popularly known as “Okey Di Okay,” and his Campaign Director, Mr. Cyril Chiegboka, were kidnapped within his community by the yet-to-be-identified assailants on Sunday, May 15, 2022, while returning from a function. They were immediately taken away inside his black Sienna car within his constituency.
While the state Police Command, through the Public Relations Officer, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, confirmed the incident and said that the lawmaker’s “black Sienna bus,” which he was driving before the incident, had been recovered, and he said were efforts were being made to apprehend the kidnappers and rescue the victims.”
This was all that was heard from the security agencies until the following Saturday, when the lawmaker’s freshly cut head and that of his aide were mounted at the Chisco Park in the Amichi community, with a written note placed on the side.
The handwritten note had messages signed by ‘unknown gunmen’, one of which read, “We give the politicians 48 hours to withdraw all the soldiers in Biafra land or face our wrath or consequences [sic]. Signed, unknown gunmen.
Okoye, before his death, was representing the Aguata North Constituency II, the same community as the governor of the state, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo.
Following the lawmaker’s death, efforts were further heightened to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to book by both the state government and the security operatives, including the announcement of N10m reward for anyone who could give information that could lead to the doorstep of the hoodlums.
The incident created mixed reactions in the state, with some sections, including the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance, through its Media aide, Chinedu Obigwe, saying that the killing of the lawmaker and his aide had a political undertone, especially as it was election period, others believe that abductors perpetrated the act for ransom purpose.
This is so as a member of the lawmaker’s family, who did not want to be mentioned, lamented that even though the ransom was paid, the kidnappers still went ahead to kill him, an insinuation the state Commissioner of Police, Echeng Echeng, debunked through a security briefing on Monday. Echeng, during the meeting called in reaction to the killing of the lawmaker, said, “The command is not aware if any ransom was paid.”
Echeng also revealed that the police swooped into action when a relative of Okoye reported at the Police division in Ekwulobia, Aguata LGA, that he had seen a headless corpse allegedly lying along Nnobi-Ideani Road, which he believed was that of the lawmaker who was abducted alongside his aide.
He added that the police operatives accompanied him to the scene and found the claim to be true, saying that the police personnel also recovered the severed head of the lawmaker for preservation and autopsy.
He said, “Later that same day, information was received that the head of the lawmaker was seen at Amichi in Nnewi South Local Government Area, which has been the epicentre of attacks by unknown gunmen on security forces, vigilante groups, and defenseless civilians.”
The gruesome murder of the lawmaker and his aide has generated wild fear and reactions from stakeholders in the state, as evidenced in the following Monday’s sit-at-home, where residents stayed indoors as they did not want to incur the wrath of the gunmen.
But Echeng, while calling for better volunteering of information from the various communities to unravel the gunmen, dismissed the threat, saying that the gunmen were not “unknown” but “known” and vowing to bring the perpetrators and criminals operating in the state to book.
He further said that the police had discovered the criminals’ hideouts and assured the Anambra people that they would “start hearing of how the police are dislodging the criminals within 48-hours”.
However, there is nothing tangible on the ground to suggest that their efforts were yielding the desired results as both the “unknown” and “known” criminal gangs have yet to be unveiled to the public as promised by the police for more than “48 hours” after the promise was made.
The Press Secretary to the governor, Christian Aburime, said, “You know security is a strategic approach, which the state government has been doing. The fact that you hear of gun attacks does not mean that the government was folding its arms. A lot is ongoing underground, and the killing of the lawmaker is quite regrettable. It has further made the state government more resolute and determined in fighting to rid the state of criminal elements.”
Also, there have been separate attacks, with no fewer than seven people killed, including a pregnant woman and her four children. The gunmen stormed those areas, opened fire on their victims, and left.
This was less than 24 hours after the severed head of the lawmaker was found.Within the week, a headless body was found on the Nnobi-Alor-Nkpor road, attack at Onitsha Tollgate, Ogbunike/Nkwelle Junction, attack around Eke Adazi Nnukwu, attack at Ogidi, attack at Aforigwe, Umunnachi, attack around Oraukwu-Abatete, attack on Agulu, attack on Nanka.
In all of these, the lawmaker’s death has taken centre stage among the growing concerns in the state. This is more so because lawmakers are seen as “sacred” and “untouchable” because of their function in society. “If a lawmaker could be killed without any traces, what then is the fate of the common man,” remains a question that begs for an answer.
An Aguata indigene, Grace Ogah, said, “I am still coming to terms with how somebody, who is not just an ordinary individual could be kidnapped, beheaded and his head displayed and videotaped, and nothing happened. I expected the National Assembly, the Presidency, and prominent Igbo groups to come in and not only to condemn the act but to take decisive steps.”
Aguata is the hometown of the state governor, Soludo, and the killed lawmaker.
Soludo, while reacting, lamented that the lawmaker’s killing meant that “criminals have desecrated our land” and showed that criminals don’t value human lives anymore.
The governor said no human being should ever experience death in that way the lawmaker did while promising a N10m bounty for anyone with useful information on the killing.
“Okey di okay and Cyril Chiegboka were murdered in the most gruesome manner. No human being should ever have to experience death in that way.
“This is a test of our resolve, and we are more emboldened than cowed that this criminality must be stamped out of our land.
“Umunnem Ndi Anambra, this is not who we are. The party is over, and every community must join forces with the government in this war to reclaim our homeland.
“Okey and Cyril will never die in vain. May God console their young families, the people of Isuofia, and Ndi Anambra. May their souls and all others who have lost their lives in the hands of these criminals continue to rest in peace.
“We have placed a N10m bounty for anyone with useful information. This war is one that Anambra must win!” Soludo added.
Despite the efforts the state government and the security agencies said they were making, the attacks had continued, thereby prompting the governor to declare a 6 pm to 6 am curfew in eight local government areas of the state, commencing on Thursday, May 26 with the hope that this will be a further boost in tackling the insecurity situation, which has claimed many lives in the state in the last one month.
But following the words of the state police boss, Echeng, one could have ordinarily suggested that the security architecture would have been beefed up to start bursting the perpetrators of these dastard acts, especially as he has said repeatedly that the police “know them…they are not unknown”.
There is no other concrete evidence to show that the situation is firmly under control, as no suspect has been unveiled to the public six days after the murder of the lawmaker..
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