President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday held a meeting with the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, telling them to adopt certain security measures in the South-East and the South-South geopolitical zones of the country.
Military sources familiar with the development told SaharaReporters some of the measures which Buhari approved for the two zones which are perceived to be experiencing unrest in the country.
Earlier on Tuesday, the acting IGP, Usman Baba, told newsmen that the measures would soon be implemented although he failed to disclose the specifics of the measures.
Military sources said what Buhari ordered the service chiefs and IGP to do were no “extraordinary measures” but regular operational procedures to check the growing violence.
“The police and military have been recording casualties in the South-East during raids and gun battles with the criminals disturbing the region. Therefore, the focus would shift more to air power in the coming weeks. Combat helicopters and other aircraft would be deployed to conduct massive raids on the hideouts from the air. It does not matter whether the hideouts are for the Indigenous People of Biafra or its armed outfit, what the military is looking for are criminals,” the source revealed.
“There is also the likelihood of arrest of more traditional rulers, community heads and chiefs by the security agencies to extract key information. The army and police believe that the traditional and community intelligence will be important to suppress the IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) and ESN (Eastern Security Network) uprising. The South-East states have to warn their traditional rulers against conniving with the agitators. You see how many traditional rulers were arrested, sanctioned, detained and dethroned in the North-West for conniving with bandits. The same table is turning to the South-East and South-South regions,” another security source revealed.
SaharaReporters gathered that the police and the army operatives were still conducting intelligence operations in the South-East and South-South, and will intensify their reach based on the new President’s directive.
SaharaReporters had reported on May 3 that security officials, due to the precarious situation had deserted their stations, and now prefer to come in mufti the few times they are at work.
It had been gathered that most policemen, particularly those who are not Igbo indigenes, are desperately seeking redeployments amidst fear of the incessant attacks by “unknown gunmen.”
SaharaReporters had on April 19 reported that most policemen in Abia wear mufti, after heavily armed men attacked Uzuakoli Police Station in the Bende Local Government Area in a string of other attacks on other stations.
“You can’t find many police stations opening except those in the centre of urban towns which are close to other government offices and establishments. Such is the situation we have among us. We cannot police the remote, rural areas. Our men have fled. It is expected because the situation is worsening and the federal might seems to be weakening,” a source had stated.
With the absence of policemen from stations came the disappearance of checkpoints in the South-East states.
It had been observed that moving from Garki, in Enugu South Local Government Area to Camp in Enugu North, and heading to the New Market through Trade Fair Complex areas in Trans-Ekulu to Nike Lake Hotel, in Enugu East Local Government Area – all within the state capital – there is no security check-point on any of the roads.
This is unlike in the past when security checkpoints were placed for stop-and-search exercises on motorists.
The roads and streets of Enugu, the capital of Enugu State, are lacking uniformed policemen and the usual security check-points. This is not unconnected with the hike in violent attacks on security men and formations in the zone.
It was also observed that police personnel no longer move about freely in their uniform.
“The fear of attack from unknown armed men is the beginning of wisdom now,” said a female police officer.
The same scenario was observed in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State as most checkpoints have been abandoned with no personnel to man them.
Military checkpoints are also deserted, especially in the evening.