Sometime ago, around 1998 or 1999, cases of armed robbery, killing and raping was rampant in Anambra State. Then, in Awka, there must be a case of robbery every night. What we usually do in the morning was ask which part of the town was robbed. Any part the armed robbers visited will be free from them for some weeks to come. In fact, if you hear that a particular area has been attacked, you will bundle your daughters and wives to your relatives that live in the area (if you have any) because you are sure that they will be safe from robbers for some time.
Then Awka was nothing to write home about in terms of security. People lived in fear. No one spoke for the inhabitants of the town. Police only visited areas where crimes were committed in the night and that’s just it because they will definitely visit another crime scene the following day. At a stage, it became the case of “every man on his own”.
This robbery incident I’m talking about is not a case of robbers visiting a compound or an apartment. Here, I meant a whole street or two being attacked simultaneously. If your area doesn’t receive these night visitors between 11pm to 1am, just know that it isn’t your turn. These people attacked in large numbers and took time to move from house to house and from compound to compound until they have satiated their devilish desires. Believe me when I say that no police or any other security agents will disturb them until they finish their assignments and leave around 4 or 5 in the morning. Then, it was really terrifying.
Awka was not the only part of Anambra State that underwent this type of horror. Onitsha equally experienced it. The worst thing during that period is that these night marauders lived in our midst and nobody could say anything. People knew who they were and where they went when they finished their daily (or should I say nightly) assignment to deliver their booties. But who will talk? Both the “workers” and their “employers” made themselves invincible and ruled by fear. It is equally possible that they had some backings from the leaders, who threw their faces into the bush while the citizens suffered. However, thanks to the OMATA men, a solution was found. That solution was the BAKASSI BOYS.
Majority of you must have heard about “Ndi Bakassi” that detected people that have “wasted human blood” through the use of juju. I actually can’t say how they get their Intel but I know they judged and killed those they found guilty. They don’t believe in “fair hearing” or whatever our legal system uses to free killers and robbers. Theirs was more like “catch and kill”. They usually take those they sentenced to death to the public, slaughter them and burn their remains. In fact, Bakassi Boys even denied the “guilty” of good burials and funerals.
I was among the people that didn’t like the Bakassi Boys. My problem with them is the way they slaughtered people in the public. I always believed that their spectators, especially the young ones, will experience trauma from such an encounter. But then, like people reminded me, the coming of Bakassi Boys brought robbery and what have you to a halt. I am not exaggerating if I say that Ndi Bakassi came into Anambra and in less than two weeks, all those night marauders and their “employers” disappeared. Some of them that I know have not returned till date. Rumour has it then that they left town. But insider information said that they were “picked up” by Bakassi and that was the last anyone heard of them.
Now, whether Bakassi Boys did their jobs perfectly well or not is not what people want to know. The major thing is that they delivered. Because of them a lot of people were able to sleep again. The barking of dogs or the rustling of leaves no longer scare people into oblivion. We were able to have our lives back. All thanks to the Bakassi Boys.
Now, let’s look at what is happening in Southern Kaduna and in other parts of Northwest Nigeria. These people wasting lives are called “bandits”. Some people have come on Twitter to speculate that they are an Al-Qaeda terrorist group. Some other people said that they are just civilians with guns, who operate with motorcycles. I don’t know who they are, but I know they shouldn’t be taken for granted.
From the look of things, it is obvious that the Nigerian security agencies cannot handle the security situations in this country, at least single handedly. They need help. If you ask me, I will say that something is wrong somewhere but we don’t know what it is. This means that it is time for these indigenes to take matters into their own hands and stop waiting for the government to manage their security situation.
From what I know, the Anambra State government did not invite the Bakassi Boys. Of course if the state governor then did not bother paying civil servants their salaries, is it security issues he will bother himself with? What I heard then was that OMATA people invited Bakassi Boys to sanitise Onitsha. However, how their works in Onitsha favoured those of us in Awka is what I couldn’t say. But I know that they never came to Awka officially but their “breeze” touched us and other parts of the state. But then, I don’t know why they left and why strong vigilante services have been discouraged in this country.
If it is possible, private individuals and associations can come together to employ independent vigilante services that will deliver. They should consider taking their security matters into their own hands. They should not wait for the government to protect them because, let the truth be said, the government is not doing a wonderful job at that.
Like Buratai once said, these bandits and insurgents live among citizens. It is therefore the duty of the citizens to fish them out and hand them over to…who exactly? The government that will return them into the society and give them the chance to “deal with” the whistle blowers? Well, that is a story for another day.