Date Published: 06/07/09
Investors flee Anambra as armed robbers, kidnappers take over
In a commando-style operation, no less than 20 armed men Friday afternoon in Awka, capital of Anambra State kidnapped millionaire businessman and chairman of Pokobros Group of Companies, Chief Paul Okonkwo, heightening the spectre of violence which has become the lot of the state since the beginning of the year.
Okonkwo’s abduction came less than 24 hours after the wife of a prominent politician in the state and former governorship candidate, Chief Ifeanyi Nwokoye was kidnapped in the same Awka, and four days after dare-devil armed robbers swooped on Nnewi, killing at least eight persons after serially robbing a chain of banks.
And penultimate Monday in Umuawulu, a few kilometers from Awka, suspected assailants had chased a former chairman of Awka South council, Chief Chukwudi Okafor, into the local Catholic Church before emptying over six magazines of bullets on the politician. He died instantly.
The upsurge in violent crimes in Anambra State, particularly kidnappings, has forced several residents of the state which reportedly has the most number of millionaires in Nigeria, to relocate their families. For many families, Asaba, the capital of Delta State, is said to be the destination of choice, for now.
Eyewitnesses told Pointblannews.com that about 4 pm, a band of fully armed youngsters in SUVs had trailed Okonkwo from his Pokobros Hotel on the Enugu-Onitsha expressway and blocked his jeep on the same expressway.
“They literarily plucked him out of his jeep into theirs before speeding off through Zik (Nnamdi Aziiwe) Avenue. When they encountered some traffic snarl, these boys opened fire causing serious confusion as people scampered for safety. Funny enough, they passed the state Police secretariat, the Prisons headquarters unchallenged before heading for the road to Agulu,” offered an eyewitness.
Sources close to the multi-millionaire politician and businessman, Nwokoye, told Pointblanknews.com that the wife of the businessman, who was in Italy to inspect a consignment of sanitary wares, was abducted as she made to drive into her mansion.
“Two boys were sighted loitering, but they didn’t look sinister. As soon as madam drove in, they rushed into the compound, gun in hand, and ordered her into their car which they had cleverly concealed near our gate. Oga is on his way back to negotiate with the kidnappers so that he can, at least, have his wife back,” the source narrated.
A very successful clearing and forwarding agent, Chuwudi Okafor, who had fallen out with Governor Peter Obi, had hinted close associates that he was set to dump Obi’s All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Amuluonyenaego (Chukwudi) had approached on the eve of his death that he was interested in the Awka Federal Constituency seat, and that he was set to declare for PDP. I encouraged him to go and register in his ward, and he agreed. We agreed to see again the next weekend. That was the last we saw,” lamented a PDP chieftain.
With the police have yet to make any arrests on Chukwu’s assassination, pressure is said to be mounting on Governor Obi to come out clean on the matter. “We strongly believe that Amuluonyenaego is a victim of state-sponsored terrorism. How come he was killed after falling out with Peter (Obi), and just days before declaring for PDP?” quizzed a PDP chieftain.
And in Isuofia, Okonkwo’s village, accusing fingers are said to be pointing the way of a former Governor of the Central Bank, Professor Chukwuma Soludo. The former bank chief has for years been locked in a battle for supremacy with Okonkwo, culminating in Soludo balkanizing the town and rechristening his own part Isu Anioma. Okonkwo remained Oji (Prime Minister of) Isuofia.
So worrying is the frequency and ease of robberies and kidnapping to the people of the state that a legislator from the state told Pointblanknews.com that “most of us have found out that it is cheaper to relocate your aged parents and children than to pay ransoms.”
He lamented that the Peter Obi administration appeared confused whilst the security situation in Anambra state spirals out of control. He claimed that there have been at least 60 high profile kidnappings in the state since the beginning of 2009.
“Peter Obi is busing fighting his deputy and her son, Emeka. He is trying to maintain a false mien that all is well, when most of his aides are disorientated and resigning in droves. Armed robbery has peaked, and we now top the chart in kidnapping, a hitherto unknown phenomenon. If nothing urgent is done to nip this trend, I fear Anambra may become worse than Mexico or Colombia,” he declared.