Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU), an umbrella body of town union leaders in Anambra State, has denied claims by the Anambra State Police Command that community leaders are shielding criminal elements in the state.
The police in the state, last Monday, claimed that community leaders were shielding criminal elements in the state by not providing information to aid security agents in apprehending such disgruntled elements unleashing terror and mayhem in the state.
The Police held an elaborate press conference where Commissioner accused communities of unwillingness to volunteer useful information about criminals in their localities.
He argued that the police could not function effectively without useful intelligence.
But responding to the claims of the Police, the National President of ASATU, Chief Titus Akpudo, said rather than make wrong inferences, the Police should be more effective, proactive and responsive in the discharge of their constitutional duties.
Akpudo, who spoke in his ASATU Complex, Government House Awka, maintained that individuals were willing and able to provide useful information to the Police to aid their operations “but the big problem is the confidentiality of such information to protect as well as safeguard the identity of the sources.”
He expressed worry that most times Police seldom respond to distress calls and hardly partner community vigilantes to complement their efforts in the hinterlands.
According to him, “if in actual sense the CP made that assertion that community leaders are the ones shielding criminals in their localities; I say that that inference needs a serious and concrete evidence to cement it. And failure to do that will not lend any credence to that particular inference.
“The community leaders to me are not shielding criminals and nobody would like to live with a criminal in his community. The Police should also rise up to the occasion and beef up security in the state.
“They should cooperate and collaborate with community leaders and vigilante men within the communities and set up a team that would be receiving distress calls from the communities and also ensure that information given to them is well managed to ensure the safety of the person giving out the information.”
The ASATU national president further disclosed that traditional rulers and other community leaders gave out information, but the most important thing was the confidentiality of the information given out as many traditional rulers were under threats for providing information to the police.
Akpudo revealed that so many traditional rulers in Anambra-South Senatorial zone have eloped from their communities for fear of being attacked, adding that there was need for the Police to regain the confidence and trust of the people to enable them police very well.
He said, “Most times Police within the hinterlands don’t respond to distress calls from community leaders when there is crisis. Although I must commend the CP for prevailing on the DPO at Isulo to identify corpses of a woman and her four children as requested by morticians at the mortuary, if not the PG and the Igwe would be in trouble.
“If not the way the community leaders, traditional rulers and the youths are managing their localities, I bet you, some of us will not be in Anambra state today. Most of the police stations are under lock and key on Mondays and you won’t see anyone of them on the roads on that day.”
He, however, appealed to the Federal Government to facilitate and ensure the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, noting that his release would add a lot of strength to the efforts towards restoration of peace in the South-East region.