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Devise means to identify bandits, unknown gunmen, Ohafia leaders tell security agents

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Following reports of recent clashes between bandits, otherwise called unknown gunmen and military officers in Ohafia, Abia State, leaders of the community have charged security agents to devise means of identifying the bandits and do the needful.

In a statement issued by the Ohafia Monarchs Council (OMC) and Ohafia Improvement Union (OIU) and its leaders of thought, they expressed concerns over rising insecurity in Ohafia, which they said, had resulted in harassment and intimidation of residents by security agencies in Ohafia.

The traditional rulers, who endorsed the statement, are the Udumeze Ohafia, Prof. E.U.L. Imaga (Ezeogo Elu), Emmanuel Kalu Kalu Onugu (Ezeogo Asaga), Mba Odo Okereke (Ezeogo Akanu), Awa Nwankwo (Ezeogo Amaekpu) and Mmecha Ugbu Mmecha (Ezeogo Amangwu).

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“Ohafia people and residents are law abiding citizens of Nigeria, who deserve protection from security agencies under the laws of the country, instead of intimidation and harassment,” the statement reads.

They refuted claims that unknown gunmen were hibernating in Ohafia, pointing out that the security agencies know the deviant elements in the community and as such, they should devise means of arresting them rather than stigmatise all youths and residents of the area.

“The Council of Ohafia Monarchs had used various traditional instruments of authority to advise and counsel Ohafia youths and residents to remain law abiding and responsible citizens.”

“The continuous lockdown of commercial and social activities in the community has paralysed economic activities and well being of Ohafia people,” the statement added.

The traditional rulers further lamented that the siege on Amangwu Ohafia had turned the people into Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in their own land, adding that the development has created anxiety in other neighbouring Ohafia communities.

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They requested the Brigade Commander of the Nigerian Army in Ohafia to reconsider its strategy and tactics of maintaining peace and harmony in the communities without dehumanising and intimidating the people.

The Guardian learnt that a fierce gun battle between military officers of the 14 Brigade of the Nigerian Army and unknown gunmen was also reported in Ohafia last Saturday, which caused an exodus of residents and indigenes of Elu, Amangwu, Ebem and Amaekpu in Ohafia Council to neighbouring villages in order to avoid being caught up in the crossfire.

But in a statement, Chairman of Ohafia Council, Dr. Okorafor Ukiwe, said following the clash, he received further complaints of alleged intimidation, harassment and stifling of the people’s freedom of movement and right to do their legitimate businesses.

He advised the youths to allow the military to perform their constitutional duties to avoid aggravated response, and urged the soldiers to stop humiliating innocent citizens by compelling them to raise up their hands and other dehumanising acts.

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