Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, has said that gunmen and those armed with sophisticated weapons terrorising the people are not agitators but criminals who have seen crime as a lucrative business.
In an interactive session with landlords in Onitsha on Thursday, Soludo expressed deep concern that despite the extension of invitation by the state government to the gunmen to come out of their hiding and embrace dialogue, the criminals continued in their activities of killing, kidnapping and destruction because they saw criminality as a lucrative business.
He said the gunmen had continued in their illicit activities because the landlords and other critical stakeholders in the state had failed to expose them.
The governor pointed out that the session was called to interact and interface with the stakeholders with a view to proffering solutions to the challenges such as illegal structures, blockage of drainages, refuse dumps, traffic congestion, among others, bedevilling the state.
He noted that the major programmes of his administration at present included cleaning up of the state, security of lives and property and provision of critical infrastructure like roads.
He said, “With last Tuesday’s expiration of a two-week deadline given to those whose houses or shops were built on drainages, water channels and major roads to remove such structures, the government would commence the demolition of those houses any moment from now at the expense of the landlords.
“Criminals kidnapping people for ransom, killings and destruction are not agitating but engaging in lucrative criminality. We know where these criminals are.
“It is better for them to repent, drop their arms and come for empowerment or else, we will come after them and when we come, no house, bush or forest inhabited by them will be spared.
“You cannot force people to stay at home without going to their various places of business, force our children not to go to school and call it agitation. It is not agitation, but a criminal activity and very soon, all those will be addressed.
“The task forces for the enforcement of traffic offences and stoppage of all forms of criminal activities will be established.
“A bill for the enactment of law to punish landlords, contractors and government officials who approved lands on top of drainages, certified payments for contracts not yet completed or completed without specifications, would soon be sent to the state House of Assembly for legislation.”
A state lawmaker representing Onitsha North II Constituency in the state House of Assembly, Edward Ibuzo, said he was fully in support of Soludo’s planned demolition of 200 houses blocking drainages in Onitsha and environs, adding that it is an offence for someone to build on drainages, thus causing blockage of water channels.