Addressing reporters in Awka, the state Commissioner of Police, Echeng Echeng said the command would go all out to deal with them, even as he frowned at the reluctance by indigenes of various communities in the state to volunteer information about the activities of criminals in their areas to help tackle the problem.
The CP said: “There is nothing unknown about the gunmen terrorizing Anambra State, to warrant calling then ‘unknown gunmen’.
“We have been saying that unknown gunmen is not the right name for these criminals. We are trying to mystify something that is not just there.
“It is time we go into demystifying them. These people are not spirits, they live with us, they are our nephews, our cousins, our brothers, and they live in communities. We know who they are.
“The problem of security is that of total silence as nobody sees something, nobody hears something and nobody says something.
“Security is collective and everyone has a part to play. Crimes are localized, and they happen in our communities. We should be able to come up with information of what is happening in our communities, not glorifying them and tagging them as unknown gunmen, otherwise we will end up not making headways. We know them, we have actually arrested some of them, and they are human beings.
“I want us to also shift the narrative that these criminals are Fulani. We have arrested some and taken out some during gun duels.
“So, when the communities that should help to contribute to security decide to stay quiet, that is not a good sign.
“Last week a person I didn’t know told me that a team of gunmen were operating at Umunze in a Hummer Jeep, I sent a team after them, and we were told they have moved to Umuchu and we pursued them and were able to take out four of them.
“I don’t know the man who gave me the information, but we used the information to fight the criminals. That black Hummer Jeep you see there (pointing to it) was recovered from the criminals.
“You can see what information can do. That is how powerful information is, and we expect people to give information,” Echeng said.
“The state police command has decided to go all out on these criminals. Their dens have been identified, and soon, news of their exploit will be made known.
“We will not spare any of them. Forget the narrative they push that they live in the forest, they create that impression and then return to the communities where they live.
“What they have in the forest are just shrines, and we have visited and destroyed most of them. These criminals live among the people”,
Echeng debunked the insinuation that the murdered Anambra lawmaker, Hon Okechukwu Okoye was killed because of refusal to pay ransom, saying “I am not aware that any ransom was demanded, or that any ransom was paid”,
By Vincent Ujumadu