Presidents-General Killed For Exposing Drug Dealers In Anambra Communities

By Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The crux of the matter at the general assembly cum end-of-year programme of the Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU) held at the ASATU secretariat complex Government House Awka, was the incessant gruesome murder of Presidents-General who dared to expose drug dealers and other criminal activities in their respective communities.
The Presidents-General who recounted their ordeals in the hands of moneybags who provide cover for criminal elements in the communities, took turns to explain that the Nigeria Police is making matters worse by not guaranteeing source protection when intelligence is made available to them.
The PGs said they were tired of the police not protecting sources of information because when errand boys of drug dealers or drug dealers themselves were exposed and reported to the Police or when arrests were made, before the PGs returned to their communities from the police station, the arrested suspects were already waiting for them at home to deal with them ruthlessly for daring to report them and their principals to the police.
Some of the PGs who shared very harrowing experiences in their respective communities, said it was time government guaranteed security and protection of Presidents-General in their efforts to rid the communities of bad elements unleashing terror and mayhem at the grassroots.
The ASATU general assembly, which the Anambra Deputy Governor Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim was a special guest of honour, alongside other very important personalities including the Transition Committee Chairmen of Idemili-South, Anaocha and Anambra-East, who were conferred Eminent Personality Awards, was a veritable platform to further encourage the PGs not to despair but to be more intrepid in the fight against illicit drug dealers, consumers of illicit drugs and other related crimes.
Speaking on the occasion, the immediate past National President of ASATU Chief Alex Onukwube, said Presidents-General should be applauded for their relentless fight against illicit drug abuse in the communities.
Onukwube said government has a lot to do to empower community leaders in the war against illicit drug dealers; that they can not win the war with bare hands. He said some PGs have been killed in the fight against organised crimes and bad lives in the communities. He equally expressed concern that government hasn’t done anything about PGs who have been killed while fighting crimes in their respective communities.
He therefore noted that the PGs were ready to assist government in ridding bad elements off communities but stressed the need also for government to guarantee adequate protection for the PGs. That government should help upgrade community vigilantes in terms of remunerations, trainings and other logistics as he believes that local community vigilantes still operated in very crude ways.
Meanwhile, the immediate past President-General of Amorka community in Ihiala Local Government Area, Prof. Simeon Alozie, said it would be extremely difficult for people in the communities to give out information on criminal activities. He however suggested that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) should carry out under cover operations in communities to fish out illicit drug dealers and their cronies as the operations would not be traced to the PGs.
The President-General of Aguluzigbo and National Assistant Secretary of ASATU, Hon. Michael Madueke, said on several occasions when criminal suspects were arrested and taken to the police station, the suspects were released on bail by moneybags and before long they returned to the community threatening the President-General or anyone who dared to report them to the authorities.
Madueke therefore emphasized that they were tired of reporting criminal elements to the police because their confidentiality was not guaranteed. He said henceforth the PGs would rather prefer to work directly with the NDLEA because the issue of drug and substance abuse is within their constitutional mandate.
The Aguluzigbo President-General who recalled that there was a time Anambra Vigilante Group (AVG) members arrested a certain notorious criminal who was taken to the police; rather than the police prosecuting him, they demanded that the AVG members should produce the complainant else they would release the suspect on bail. He said incidentally the suspect was released on bail before two days and began to threaten everybody in the community. He therefore suggested too that a robust synergy with the NDLEA would change the status quo.
Furthermore, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo President in Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemekalum Udodeme, said it was regrettable that the police do not handle information given to them by community leaderships professionally. Although he emphasized that the Presidents-General will not relent in their duties to protect communities from disgruntled elements, he stressed the dire need for security agencies to rise up to address the challenges of security threats in communities especially in combating illicit drugs.
Contributing too, the National Vice President of ASATU and immediate past President-General of Ikem Ifite community in Anambra-East Local Government Area, Prof. Charles Nwadigwe, said PGs were under pressure to rid their communities of drug users and drug peddlers.
Nwadigwe who informed that there are communities that have formed drug committees to reduce drug demand and drug usage but the communities, according to him, are hampered by implementation mechanisms. He added that PGs don’t have adequate resources or even the legal power to arrest and prosecute or even to rehabilitate criminal elements.
The former Ikem Ifite community PG maintained that PGs sometimes get threatened because of their zero tolerance to crimes and criminalities. He said that even the enforcement mechanism and investigation processes of the police may be hampered or even delayed due to lack of personnel or peculiar challenges of the police in the local communities.
He however pointed out that if drug offenders are handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) rather than the police, the situation will improve and also free the police of additional burden of having to pursue drug users; saying that the police always complained of lack of man power and other logistics.
He was also of the opinion that ASATU has gone to the Anambra State Truth and Reconciliation Committee to submit the list of Presidents-General that were killed in cold blood because they exposed drug dealers and their foot soldiers in the communities. That people who feel they are connected are always after the PGs and they are being arrested on a daily basis and taken to zone 13 police headquarters and all sorts of criminal allegations levelled against them.
Nwadigwe said PGs are discouraged because their lives are in danger. He therefore called on the Anambra State Government to protect PGs, reinforce community vigilantes while the police should understand that the PGs are working against some forces in the communities.
On his part, the National President of ASATU Chief Barr. Titus Nnabuike Akpudo, told the Deputy Governor that if not for the PGs, so many government officials would have been killed. Akpudo noted that it was rather unfortunate that ASATU has no official vehicles and other paraphernalia for running of the state even as he noted too that it is not fair the way and manner in which some government officials treat PGs. He therefore commended Governor Soludo and his Deputy for the massive construction works going on across Anambra State.
Responding to issues concerning NDLEA, the State Commander, Onyeisi Daniel Ogbonna, who gave a brief lecture at the ASATU general assembly cum end of the year programme, said the security of their sources of information is primary and most paramount as NDLEA does not disclose the sources of their information.
Onyeisi said establishment of drug control committees in communities was one of the strategies being adopted to ensure that drug campaigns are carried down to the grassroots. He said NDLEA has set up drug control committees in Achina and Nteje communities respectively and they are working perfectly to rid the communities off hard drugs and other related drug offenses.

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