The recent attacks in parts of the Southeast and South-south have increased tension in Awka, the capital city of Anambra, Southeast Nigeria.
Police in the state are mounting checks and barricades around strategic public buildings in what many see as a proactive measure against future attacks.
Police formations, Correctional Service and other valuable properties have come under intense attacks by armed groups believed to be separatists. The most recent being the invasion and breaking of Owerri correctional facility where now fewer than 1,800 inmates were illegally freed.
While Mohammed Adamu, the former Inspector General of Police pointedly said the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) were behind the attacks, Hope Uzodimma, Governor of Imo State said the perpetrators were inspired by disgruntled political opponents in the state.
HumAngle observations in Awka, the capital town of Anambra State, revealed that the police have adopted a more proactive measure to prevent a recurrence of the Imo state experience in Anambra by cordoning off some areas in the city.
Gaining access into the Anambra government house is now a herculean task for motorists who now have to go in through one rigorous path while pedestrians trek long distances to connect the only open entrance gate on the expressway.
The situation is worse at Amawbia, where a major road leading to banks in the town and popular Eke-Awka market through command headquarters, is blocked on both sides.
Some other public institutions in the area include the Department of State Services, Awka Area Command, Nigeria Correctional Services, Anambra Governor’s Lodge, State Criminal Investigation Department, Awka South Local Government Administrative Headquarter, Anambra Magistrate Court among others.
The development has resulted in untold hardship to commuters in the capital town as they have to navigate long alternative routes to their destinations.
Residents have complained that the restriction was having economic consequences as they now spend more time in the traffic and most time miss their appointments.
Jude Ani, a grocery shop attendant in the area where traffic was restricted said shop owners have not been making sales due to the reduction in the movement of the people around the area.
Ani said they were only carrying out skeletal operations, noting that some workers have been asked to stop until normalcy was returned.
On his part, Okey Mayor, a petrol station operator in Amawbia said the blockade had stopped vehicular traffic in and out of his outlet.
Mayor said though he was no longer making sales, he aligned with any measure put in place to secure the lives of people, especially inmates in the nearby Correctional Centre.
“It is good for the life of my workers and every other person. Nobody is safe when armed people are moving freely looking for who to kill. “The inconvenience is much, but we have to bear it till normalcy is restored.”
They called on the Nigeria Police to reconsider the measure and provide effective security in such a way that people could still carry out their lawful businesses with minimal hindrance.
Toochukwu Ikenga, a Deputy Superintendent of Police and Police Public Relations Officer in the Command said the blockade strategy was in response to recent security realities in the Southeast.
Ikenga said the measure was an inevitable but temporary one that would be reversed in due course while urging the public to bear the inconveniences as it was for an overriding public security interest.
The PPRO said the command had made remarkable success in crime bursting in recent time due to the new measures.
According to him, the measure was deliberate and temporary, saying “we shall relax it when the time is right but I must tell you that we have achieved tremendous success in recent times as a result of the strategy.”
“We too are also having problems with accessing some places when we are not in uniform but the command is maintaining 24 hour overt and covert surveillance operations in the state to ensure that the people enjoy peace and security.”
“That is why we are calling on residents of Anambra who have useful information and are in an emergency to reach the command through the numbers the Commissioner of Police Monday Kuryas has provided.”
“We are also implementing the state government ban on the use of tinted vehicles and vehicles without number plates and a number of them have been arrested.”