Hoodlums masquerading as unknown gunmen have reportedly taken over communities in Igbo-Eze North and South local government areas of Enugu State, with some demanding ‘protection’ levies from hapless members of the communities.
The affected communities are Aguibeje, Iyi Onu, Umuida, and Umuopu in Igbo-Eze North as well as Unadu, Alor Agu, and Itchi communities in Igbo-Eze South.
Sources from some of the communities who spoke to SaharaReporters lamented that the criminals kill people at will, burn their belongings and escape into a forest bordering Enugu and Kogi states.
One of the sources said, “At least four dead bodies were discovered on the streets in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area last week.
“Early this month, the gunmen killed two youth leaders of the All Progressives Congress, Lucky Idoko, of Unadu community in Igbo-Eze South, and Victor Ugwuoke, the youth leader of Alor Uno ward in Nsukka area of the state. Both were killed on the same day by the gunmen at Alor Agu community.
“Also, two weeks ago, the hoodlums equally disrupted a Labour Party meeting in Umuida, Igbo-Eze North, setting a car, tricycles and motorcycles ablaze in the process.”
Another source, who stated that the criminals were not members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) or its security outfit, Eastern Security Network (ESN), noted that most of the hoodlums are cult members who are known.
According to the source, most of the leaders of such cult members are commissioners or people who hold various political positions in the state.
“Some of these criminals have been used during previous elections but were dumped shortly after. It is not news that some of the criminals were members of cult groups that some of their leaders are in government,” the source said.
The source alleged that the government had been paying the criminals to prevent them from committing crimes, saying that was why the state was adjudged to be peaceful until recently.
“I don’t actually know what went wrong, whether the government has stopped to pay them, leading to the resurgence of criminalities in the state,” the source added.
A resident who decried the situation noted that the hoodlums now storm local markets occasionally to rob traders of their wares and money.
“Whenever they attack traders, they beat up anybody in sight and rob traders of their stock, especially, food items. Our lives are now in danger. We want the government to beef up security in our communities. We are helpless because police only come to carry the dead bodies of victims. Our lives are not secure,” a resident said.
The resident also lamented that some members of his community are being levied by the hoodlums, saying, “Mostly, people that are doing business are being taxed to pay some amounts of money (for protection). They (hoodlums) come once in a while to collect the money; not all the time.”
While condemning the attack on youth leaders in Enugu North Senatorial District, the APC chairman in Nsukka Local Government Area, Clifford Ezema, described the activities of the hoodlums as terrible.
He urged security agencies to face their responsibilities squarely.