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Southeast governors in emergency meeting over insecurity in the region

Insecurity has persisted in the Southeast. From Nnewi to Isikwuato, Nsukka to Afikpo and Mbano, the issue has continued to dominate discussions, especially the changing trend of kidnapping in the zone.

Of particular interest is the revelation that most of the kidnap cases occur around forests in the various states, be it in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, or Imo.

For incidents of kidnapping that did not happen within the precinct of the forests, Sunday Sun finding showed that the victims were usually taken to thick forests.

In fact, it was only in Anambra State that kidnap victims were mostly attacked in towns and cities.

One of the high-profile cases of kidnap in the region was the abduction of the Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Dr Samuel Kanu Uche, along with a bishop of the church and one of his aides on May 29, 2022, at the Umunneochi, Abia State axis of Enugu/Port Harcourt Expressway.

Since then, several other kidnappings had taken place in the area, including that of a Catholic priest, Rev. Father Chinedu Nwadike, the Deputy Registrar of Spiritan University, Nneochi (SUN), Umunneochi LGA.

Bandits abducted the priest alongside a seminarian on their way to Enugu for an official assignment, along the now notorious Leru Junction of Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State axis of the Enugu/Port Harcourt Expressway.

Though it could not be confirmed whether ransom was paid, but their abductors made contact with the school, demanding N50 million ransom before their release.

Again, on September 7, 2022, bandits intercepted a hearse conveying corpse to Isuikwuato Community in Abia State, and abducted the driver and others, around Umunneochi/Ihube Okigwe axis of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.

A source, who disclosed that the victims were coming from Abaraka, Delta State, said “the armed bandits waylaid the vehicle conveying the corpse and dragged out the occupants, abandoning the coffin in the vehicle on the road.

While the Umunneochi forest, which borders parts of Imo, Enugu and Anambra states, is the most notorious in Abia State; the Enugu-Ugwuogo Nike-Opi-Nsukka Road, has been its equivalent in Enugu State.

Since criminals operating in the Awgu axis of the state were cleared; the forest which extends to parts of Igbo-Etiti, Isi-Uzo and other LGAs has remained a haven for kidnappers.

Former Secretary to Enugu State Government, Dr Dan Shere and many commuters, including students of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, returning to campus after over eight months strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were between October 16-20, abducted along the road, by hoodlums suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.

The abductors had reportedly demanded a ransom of N300 million for the release of the students.

Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi visited the scene of the abduction on Thursday, October 20, alongside heads of security agencies in the state.

The state government then moved bulldozers into the location two days later and commenced clearing of the thick forest.

Shere and many of the victims were eventually released on that day by their abductors, though it was not confirmed whether any ransom was paid.

According to the released victims, some of their abductors were actually security operatives.

Anambra, Imo under attack

In Anambra State, the current wave of insecurity where criminals seem to specifically target security agents, politicians and important public officials, whether serving or retired, started sometime in 2021.

From these classes of people, the criminals came down to businessmen and women and, indeed, other innocent people going about their businesses; killing and sometimes kidnapping them for ransom.

In Imo State, the situation has been clearly restricted to the Orlu axis where security forces have had running battle with criminals, including those claiming to be members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) sponsored by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

These persons occupy camps in the border communities of Ihiala and Orsu areas of Anambra and Imo states. There had been military bombardments of the area in the past.

Although, the IPOB accused Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma and the military of killing their members in the area who were protecting the forests from Fulani herdsmen occupation, Sunday Sun investigation gathered that criminals had already taken over the area and made it their dens; from where they came out to wreak havoc in Imo and Anambra.

Available records show that these hoodlums have also burnt public facilities, especially local government secretariats. At the time it was intense, Nnewi South and Aguata LG secretariats were set ablaze by the hoodlums.

Innocent people who were very important to the society because of their expertise in their professions had their lives cut short by these hardened criminals.

One of such important personalities was Dr Chike Akunyili, husband of the late former Minister of Information, Prof Dora Akunyili.

To contain these gunmen, the state government has been making spirited efforts to flush them out. It was, however, in the course of trying to end the insecurity that it made some discoveries.

One of such was that the criminals terrorising the state usually came from other states in the Southeast region. The government also said that some of the criminals it arrested so far were all from other states in the region with about 80 per cent of them coming from a particular state.

Former Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano, while in power, made it open that a security report on his desk showed that outsiders were responsible for the insecurity in the state.

Upon assumption of office, his successor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, reechoed that claim, but vowed to crush the gunmen.

Soludo, however, later discovered that there was some degree of local support for the gunmen.

A few other criminals arrested by security agents were of Anambra origin. These persons, according to reports, were aiding these other criminals from the other states to operate in Anambra State.

Soludo has, however, labelled the insecurity in his state a criminal enterprise. He said that some of the notebooks recovered from the forests where these criminals camped had details of their daily transactions.

According to him, some of the kidnap victims and the ransoms they paid were recorded in these books.

But as part of measures to curb insecurity in the state, the state government slammed 6:00p.m to 6:00a.m curfew on the seven affected local government areas in Anambra South Senatorial District.

However, it is strongly believed in Anambra that the gunmen terrorising Ihiala and Nnewi South LGAs operate from the neighbouring Imo State.

It is also believed that the gunmen that killed three soldiers and one civilian recently in Umunze community, Orumba South LGA came in from either Imo or Abia State as Anambra has boundary with both states in that axis.

These gunmen came in again a few days ago to attack the military, but three of them were killed by the army who had superior firepower. It was gathered that the gunmen first opened fire on the soldiers, but were overpowered.

The state government has, however, said that it would not leave any stone unturned in its efforts to end insecurity in the state.

The governor reiterated that commitment recently in Onitsha, during the 20th Coronation anniversary of the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe.

Renewed attacks, fresh fears and interventions

It has been established that hoodlums who terrorise the Southeast, be they herdsmen or not, operate from then forests.

In Ebonyi, the Agbebor/Agba forest in Onicha and Ishielu LGAs has been spotted.

Recently, the Ebonyi State Police Command said it arrested the alleged leader of the ESN in the state alongside his gang members, in a thick forest in Agba community of Ishielu local government area of the state.

The command’s spokesman, Chris Anyanwu, said the arrest of the suspects was carried out in a joint operation involving the DSS, Army and other security agencies in the state.

He revealed that the joint security team also carried a similar operation in Isu, in Onicha local government area of the state.

“Ebonyi State Police Command under the able leadership of CP Aliyu Garba armed with credible intelligence, stormed three big Camps of the outlawed IPOB/ESN operatives (including a new one under active construction), located in a thick forest close to Opeke River, in Omege village Agba Community, of Ishielu LGA.

“The gang is also highly suspected to have partaken as a criminal participant in the attack of the Provost of Federal College of Education, Isu Onicha along Agba axis a few days ago judging from the proximity of their camp to the scene of the incident and many other similar ones in the state,” he stated.

The forest extends to the Nkanu East area of Enugu State where military helicopters were recently seen dropping explosives in forests within Ajeme Akpawfu village. Credible security sources confirmed that hoodlums terrorising parts of Nkanu land and Enugu town were believed to be hiding there.

There was a major military operation in the forest last year where stunning revelations were made.

Worried by the growing rate of insecurity in Enugu State particularly those perpetrated by purported Biafra agitators, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) recently condemned the criminal attacks on the indigenous people of Oduma in Aninri LGA and the neighbouring communities of Nkerefi, Nomeh and Mbulubu in Nkanu East LGA, all in Enugu State.

According to Enugu State Coordinator of MASSOB, Comrade Chukwu Daniel, in a statement on October 29, 2022, information from Biafra Intelligence Agency (BIA), the group’s secret security, showed that these gangsters operated in a camp within the borderline between Nkerefi and Oduma forest called Ngene Awa by Oduma people, then, Okobo by Nkerefi people.

Alleging that these hoodlums had subjected the people of the above mentioned communities to subjective slavery, MASSOB added: “The indigenous people can’t go to their farms during this harvesting season because of fear of being kidnapped, raped or killed by these youths.

“It is very clear that these people are not fighting for Biafra actualization, because Biafra agitators cannot be involved in kidnapping, stealing, raping and making life unbearable for your own people whom you claimed you are fighting for.”

Following fresh attacks coupled with the fears and concerns over the security situation in the region, ahead of this year’s Yuletide, the South East Governors’ Forum, last Sunday, met in Enugu.

Rising from their emergency meeting at the Government House Enugu, the governors announced their resolve to set up a 24-hour joint security patrol of the highways in the zone to tackle the incessant kidnapping and killings in the region.

The communique of the meeting, which was attended by Governor’s Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, David Umahi of Ebonyi, Okezie Ikpeazụ of Abia; Deputy Governor of Imo, Prof Placid Njoku and Deputy Governor of Anambra, Dr Onyekachukwu Ibezim, was read to the newsmen by its chairman, Umahi.

“One of the issues of our discussion today and the major reason for our meeting is the issue of security within the region. And so, South East Governors decried the state of insecurity in the region. You are all aware that our economic activities have come to a halt while kidnapping and wanton killing have become the order of the day.

“South East Governors, therefore, call on the Federal Government to come to the aid of people of Southeast in beefing up security in the zone bearing in mind that elections are around the corner and there are heightened activities within this period.

“Meanwhile, we deliberated on the best way to help our people and also restore their confidence to go about their businesses and we all agreed definitely and totally to start a joint patrol in all our major highways in Southeast and this will commence before December 1.

“We are going to put funds together to purchase vehicles to ensure that we have 24-hour joint patrol of security people in most of our highways in the Southeast,” Umahi stated.

Prior to this period, the individual states had made various interventions. In Abia, the state government set up a committee to address the persistent insecurity in the Umunneochi axis of the state.

Despite the setting up of the committee, pockets of kidnappings had been recorded there, although the effort seemed to have paid off.

The Abia State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Eze Chikamnanyo, who is also a member of the committee said they combed the forest and discovered the flashpoints.

“We have banned anything that has to do with Okada at the Enugu/Port Harcourt Expressway Junction. That is where they use to have their informants. We have equally banned the operation of Keke beyond a certain time. We have done the massive clearing of the bushes along the major highways where the criminals used to hide and target their victims. To ensure better visibility, we have engaged in aggressive cutting down of those trees that obstruct visibility,” the Commissioner said.

Chikamnanyo said that with these measures, the committee had put the criminals on their toes.

It is important to mention that the abduction the Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr Kanu Uche and two other clerics, who were released after N100 million ransom was paid, exposed so many things about the criminal enterprise at the Umunneochi area.

Their abduction had elicited protests by youths of the area who among other things demanded that the cattle market should be relocated as it allegedly served as haven for all forms of criminal elements.

In fact, the Prelate had in a press briefing in Lagos narrated how people he described as Fulani herders abducted them at Isuochi. He equally accused soldiers at a checkpoint not far from where they were kidnapped, of complicity.

Following the youths’ protest, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had directed that “all settlers, herders and individuals residing inside the forests around Umunneochi LGA to vacate such locations with immediate effect,” adding that, “government can no longer guarantee the safety of any person or group found to be residing in the forests around Umunneochi LGA.

“All cows and herders around Umunneochi LGA are hereby restricted strictly to the Cattle Market located at Umuchieze until a final decision is reached concerning the menace in the Cattle Market.”

The governor further directed the leadership of the youths of Umunneochi LGA Vigilante Groups, hunters and the Hausa Community, to continue to meet with him until an amicable solution was found to the incessant cases of insecurity in the area.

Meanwhile, victims of the latest kidnapping incidents at the Enugu-Ugwuogo Nike-Opi-Nsukka Road, alleged that some of the perpetrators were military personnel working hand in gloves with herdsmen. They further alleged the use of sophisticated weapons including AK49, by the kidnappers.

And, the army authorities in the 82 Division are yet to react to the allegations.

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Onura forest covering tens of hectares is the last rainforest in Alesa community. It is host to rare animal and plant species including the alligator that has been traditionally protected by Onura deity.

By Emmanuel Obe

Violation of the forest began in the early 1970’s when the northern fringe of it was cleared to give way for the East-West Road. The dualization of the road that dissected it to the nearby petroleum Refinery complex gave further impetus to its invasion. Mechanic workshops, and a shantytown began to develop around it.

Part of the Refinery Junction that dissects the forest

A major bank took a plunge and cut out a sizable area to locate its branch just by the junction. Last year, a major eatery and a petrol filling station opened shop opposite the bank and took off a large area of the forest. The entire Eastern flank of the forest has been lost to land speculators and developers.

Sometime in 1985, a local avatar caused a stir when with two nails and a hammer he climbed to the top of one of the tallest trees in the forest. To signpost his feat, he carved out a place at the top of the tree and inserted a piece of mirror. A day later, elders of the community ordered the felling of the tree fearing that the man might have placed some mystic object on the tree that could be ominous.

In time past, the forest provided the community with different species of freshwater fish, fresh palm wine from its rich reservoir of raffia palms and water for domestic use. The wetland within the forest soaks storm water from the community and keeps the community well drained.

Every June, a special festival of the Onura deity is celebrated by the locals. It is attended by priests of other deities in neighbouring communities. The festival comes before the beginning of the harvest season.

An attempt was made by Rivers State Government to declare the forest a protected zone about 20 years ago. The effort was resisted by the custodians of the Onura deity and it was stalled.

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By Emmanuel Obe

This town, abandoned by the eastern bank of the Imo River along the equally abandoned old Port Harcourt – Aba road, was once the epicentre of activities in an entire region reaching up to about six Senatorial zones in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Abia and Imo States.

Surprisingly, it had gone off the radar of cities in Nigeria since after the Nigerian civil war, when an alternative expressway was constructed to bypass it from Port Harcourt to Aba; the reason why many Nigerians born after the war hardly know about Imo River Town.

Even now, when the misfortune on the the new Port Harcourt – Aba expressway has forced the never-say-die transporters between Aba and Port Harcourt to rediscover the route to Imo River Town, they merely refer to is as Imo Gate.

I remember as a kid handling photographs with the stamp, ‘Photo Imo River,’ meaning that Imo River Town had photo studios and labs that processed pictures from my area and beyond. In fact, we had one photographer called Ogbukwe that moved around the villages on his bicycle taking children and family pictures. He returned a few weeks later with black-and-white copies of the pictures after processing them at Imo River.

How come the town doesn’t have an indigenous name? I was told it was founded by Europeans that used the Imo River to penetrate the Eastern hinterland after breaking through the Jaja of Opobo barrier in the Bight of Biafra, where the river empties into the Atlantic.

It kind of draws a corollary with Oji River town in Enugu, whose prominence was diminished by the opening up of the new Enugu – Onitsha expressway. But Oji remained in the limelight because it was a colonial administrative headquarters and host of the thermal power plant fired by coal from Enugu. The coal from Enugu almost being a common factor in their relationship.

So it preexisted as a modern city before Aba and Port Harcourt. It looked like it was the first cosmopolitan settlement outside colonial district headquarters in the old Eastern region. An account has it that the town would have been the choice location of Port Harcourt after coal was discovered in exportable quantity in Enugu at the turn of the 20th Century. But Imo River was found not to be navigable by ocean liners. The British founders of Port Harcourt had to move down a few miles to the West where they discovered a natural harbour at the opening of the Bonny River and built Port Harcourt.

But that did not diminish the profile of Imo River Town with its prime location between Aba and Port Harcourt. People coming to the Rivers area from Igbo hinterland often stopped over at Imo River Town, which soon became popular as Imo Gate. People coming from the coastal settlements of present-day Akwa Ibom, Opobo and Ogoni areas to Port Harcourt and Aba followed the river and berthed at Imo River Town. Business boomed and thrived.

It was by accident that I ran into Imo River Town a few months ago. I was working on a report on the devastated Ukwa West section of the Port Harcourt – Aba expressway. So, I boarded an okada from Oyigbo to get to the very bad spots. That’s how we took a detour that saw us pass through what is now left of this former boomtown.

Wow! The town had features of a full urban centre: a major road, with adjoining street spurs, a railway line, a Shell location, schools, big churches and a mixed population. I took a second trip to Imo River and met a dying town that has been denied basic amenities.

The last time they had public power supply I was told was in 2019. One lady that operates a restaurant in the town said they cannot get power supply from Afam power station a few kilometres away because Afam is in Rivers State while Imo River is in Abia State. “Our light comes from Aba,” the lady who disclosed 5hat she could be moving out of the town in 2023 if the power situation does not improve said.

Residents get water for domestic use from private boreholes. The road leading into and out of the town are terrible. They are water filled canals during the rains and open craters during the dry season. Ever since the alternative road to Aba was opened in 1970s, no touch has been made to the road passing through the town. Despite being an oil-producing community, there is no sight of an NDDC project. There is military presence in the town, which usually indicates that there is some rich facility that requires state protection. And this is likely the oil installation owned by Shell.

The major business in the town is sand mining on the river. Some lumbering also takes place. There used to be big rubber plantations. But they are gone. But the young people are very well involved in illicit artisanal crude oil refining and trading despite the military security. The black film of oil spread on the river was indicative of the damage that crude artisanal oil refining could be doing to the aquaculture of the river. Located at the entry and exit points of the town are big mortuaries. They could be ominous of the life in town?

The location of the multi-billion dollar Aluminium Smelting industry downstream the river at Ikot-Abasi, with the attendant proposal to dredge the river brought a flicker of hope to the community. But all that has died with the abandonment of the projects.

Talk of a once boomtown becoming a doom town.

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Are you looking for a place to spend your holidays and honeymoon? If yes, then an island is probably where you should visit. An Islands are known for their beautiful and attractive nature.

An Island is a place where families, friends, lovers and couples rekindle their love and spend quality time together. An Islands are surrounded by coconut trees, beaches, seas and lots of fun activities that could make you feel really good and have a memorable experience.

This article will tell you about the top 5 Islands in the world you can visit for holidays and honeymoon that could make your trip an unforgettable experience.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

The Maldives

1.            The Maldives

Located in Asia, the Maldives is considered one of the word’s most beautiful islands and tourist paradise.  The Maldives lies across the southwest of Sri Lanka and India. The Maldives is the smallest country in Asia and is an independent island country in the North-Central Indian Ocean.

The Maldives is known for its unbeatable beautiful, attractive and luxurious nature, which makes it the most dreamed islands for holidays and honeymoon. The Maldives islands have one of the best beaches and sea in the world, alongside its amazing underwater restaurant, villa resort, snorkeling, spa , mosque, museums and markets that give a wonderful experience.

Your vacations, holidays and romantic honeymoon aren’t complete without visiting Maldives Island. The Maldives can be quite expensive to visit because of its luxurious nature. When visiting the Maldives, the average cost should be around US$9500 or more.

Bora Bora , French Polynesia

2.              Bora Bora , French Polynesia

Experience love, romance, relaxation, fun and luxury at its best with the beautiful Bora Bora Island. The Island is known for its amazing and unique nature, with turquoise water of bright blue and greenish color.

 Belonging to the society of Islands of French Polynesia, the Bora Bora islands are beautifully surrounded by a ring of an atoll, alongside overwater bungalows, a beach resort, luxurious villa resort, and an amazing spa that makes you feel like heaven on earth. The Bora Bora islands are  simply the best place you can be.

Get lost in endless fun activities in the Bora Bora Islands with amazing helicopter tours, whale watching, Jet skiing, quad biking, boat tours, scuba diving, kitesurfing, wake boarding and lots more.

If you are planning a weekend gateway with friends and family or a romantic honeymoon, then Bora Bora Island is the best place you can be. Bora Bora Island can be quite expensive to visit, but it is  surely worth the price.


3.            Santorini

Santorini is simply one of the best magical places you can be in the world. It is considered the world’s most visited holiday destination and honeymoon vacation.The structural aspect of the Islands makes it even more attractive and gives it a perfect background for your picture display.

As one of the best and most visited volcanic island of Greece, Santorini Island comprises top notch hotels and restaurants with fantastic beaches and an amazing site seeing activities.

Discover and enjoy your holidays and honeymoon with a tour of  the Oia village, the Volcano, the red beach and the exciting wine testing tour. Santorini Islands can be assessed directly through flight and ferry  from most European cities and Athens.


4.            Seychelles

Seychelles is home to some of the world’s tropical Islands and tourist attractions. Located in  Africa,  Seychelles  is situated 100 miles from Kenya and about 700 miles from Madagascar. Seychelles is  comprised of two main popular islands known as the Mahé group and the Coralline group.

Seychelles is known to be Africans most visited and beautiful islands. With lush tropical vegetation, beautiful silver-white beaches, and lots of marine animals. The atmosphere at the Seychelles Islands is breathtaking, with amazing rock views and a ring of coral reef, Cocktails in coconut, palm tree decorations, exotic meals and luxurious hotels and spa.

Make your holidays and honeymoon vacations a memorable one in the Seychelles, with the exciting banana boat rides, water and jet skiing, beach parties, windsurfing, night safaris and lots of endless fun activities.


5.            Bali

The Bali Islands are certainly one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Bali Is a small island and the fifth largest islands in Indonesia. Every moment spent in the Bali is always memorable and unforgettable because the islands have a special way of welcoming theirs visitors and making them feel at home.

Experience the wonderful rich cultures of the Bali, ranging from their local dishes, amazing dance, unforgettable dramas and unique musics that ignites your soul. Bali Islands always has something for everyone, whether you want to get lost with adventures to the sacred caves, serene waterfalls and tropical forest and beaches and lots of fun activities.

A trip to Bali for your holidays and honeymoon can never be boring because the island offers so much for visitors to see from the amazing natural beauty of the islands, yoga classes, surfing, beach clubs, visit to their temple and a breathtaking sunset.

Without doubt, there is no better place in the world to spend quality time with friends, families or colleagues for your holidays or a romantic honeymoon vacations with your loved ones like an island. An Island is arguably one the best places you can dream of being in the world.

Enjoy and experience nature, From the wonderful natural beauty of the island to beautiful beaches, see animals, amazing sea views, spa , top notch hotels and restaurant and lots of endless fun activities.

For more information about where you can spend your holidays, honeymoon vacation, tourist adventures, hiking or where you can have fun enjoying nature, visit our blog at words and shot for more travel tips.

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