The Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, yesterday visited leaders and stakeholders of Umunneochi Local government and vowed to put an end to kidnappings in the area.
‘It pains me to see any Abian in Danger’ – Gov Ikpeazu says, vow to put an end to Kidnappings in Umunneochi
Ikpeazu’s visit is coming barely a few days after the youths of Umunneochi protested against incessant kidnappings allegedly been carried out by Fulani Herdsmen, rearing their cattle in the community.
The protests followed after a Methodist Prelate, Samuel Kanu-Uche, was kidnapped along Leru-Lomara-Nneato road on Sunday, May 29th and was released on May 30th after his Church paid a ransom of N100 million to the kidnappers.
VIDEO: Umunneochi Youths Protest kidnappings by Fulani Herdsmen, block Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway
Reacting over the incident, the youths of the community where the kidnapping took place, organized a protest and asked that the military checkpoints in the area be dismantled, over an allegation of aiding the kidnappers.
Meeting with leaders and stakeholders of Umunneochi LGA, Ikpeazu promised to put an end to kidnapping and other social vices that have become the order of the day in the area.
Governor Ikpeazu who addressed the people of Umunneochi LGA during the meeting at the Palace of Eze Godson Ezekwesiri at Umuelem Isuochi, said that the issue of insecurity in Umunneochi and its neighbouring communities has become a matter of great concern, adding that it pains him to see any Abian in danger.
In a press release by his Chief Press Secretary, Onyebuchi Ememanka, the Governor noted that many steps had been taken in the past, and that his administration will no longer treat the matter with kids glove.
Ikpeazu, however vowed that “the recent kidnapping of the Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria would mark the end of kidnappings around the area.
The Governor decried the worsening state of insecurity across the country and called for concerted efforts to deal with the situation.
“Governor Ikpeazu therefore, directed stakeholders of Umunneochi to articulate various flashpoints in the area for immediate action, restating that the ban on open grazing is still in full force and promised to do all it takes to put an end to the menace.
In his remarks, the Methodist Archbishop of Okigwe Archdiocese, The Most Rev. Biereonwu Onuagha who accompanied Ikpeazu, was quoted to have “regretted that Umunneochi has been turned into a money making center for kidnappers and other criminals.
According to the statement, the cleric who called for the reopening of the Ihube-Lomara road, noting that the closure of the road turned it into a known flashpoint for criminals, also called for the immediate relocation of the Lokpanta Cattle Market which he described as a security threat to the host communities.
Speaking during the meeting, a former chairman of the old Isuikwuato LGA, Chief Uzo Egbo and the Chairman of the Umunneochi Traditional Rulers Council who is also the Traditional Ruler of Aro Ikpa Autonomous Community, Eze Ernest Onwuka noted that Umunneochi as a Local Government shares borders with all the south East states makes the area vulnerable to all sorts of crimes as over 12 incidences of kidnapping have been recorded along the Leru-Lomara-Nneato road in within a short period of time.
They called for the dismantling of various military check points in the area and thanked Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for coming to their rescue as their sons and daughters no longer visit home due to prevailing insecurity in the area.