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Anambra Government Debunks the return of Bakassi Boys

Anambra Government Debunks the return of Bakassi Boys
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The Anambra state has debunked rumours that the dreaded Bakassi Boys Vigilante group has returned to the state to help tackle the rising insecurity in the South-East region.

 

On Wednesday, a report went viral that the vigilante group has been re-activated to help tackle the activities of unknown gunmen and kidnappers.

 

“It is not clear who is behind the group”, the report stated, “but with the growing insecurity, the resurgence of the dreaded outfit in the southeastern region, might compound the already vexing situation.”

Anambra Government Debunks the return of Bakassi Boys
Anambra Government Debunks the return of Bakassi Boys

The dreaded ‘Bakassi Boys’ vigilante group, who engaged in jungle justice in Anambra State during the time of former governor, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, allegedly resurfaced after two decades to crush cultists and other criminals.

 

 


According to The Guardian, the group was seen moving around the state capital in two vans, singing and warning criminals to stay away from the area.

 

Reports stated that the boys, who came mainly from alleged “cult groups” have taken over Awka town in recent times without any response from the police or the state government.

 

The police in Awka, seems not to know about the activities of the group. But the Police Public Relations Officer for the state, Ikenga Tochukwu, expressed the willingness of the command to work with any stakeholder in ensuring security of lives and property in the state.

 

The Bakassi Boys, it could be recalled, emerged in the late 1999, a period of high incidences of security in the commercial cities of the southeast part of the country such as Onitsha, Aba, Owerri and Enugu, among others. It was under the administration of Chinwoke Mbadinuju as governor of Anambra State. They were usually armed with machetes and guns and an array of black magic artifacts and juju worn around their body.

 

The manner in which they knew or discovered if one was evil or not was by the use of dark magic in which they placed a magical silver-coloured machete on the chest of any suspicious person, and if the machete’s colour changed from silver to blood red it meant the person had committed a heinous crime at some point in their life, and invariably such a person would be killed immediately.

 

 


Their method of administering their “jungle justice” endeared them to the peoples that during their activities, many criminals were either killed by them or forced to flee from the Southeast where they operated for fear of their lives.

 

However, their reign and popularity were cut short following allegations that members were embarking on extrajudicial killings of suspected petty thieves, armed robbers, ritual killers, corrupt persons and anyone considered to be evil. These were the allegations that forced then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, to disband the group in 2003.

 

A Civil Rights Activist, Jerome Nwachukwu, told The Guardian in Enugu that, “as much as the society is in dire need of security, what it cannot tolerate now is jungle justice”

 

According to him, “Our people fell in love with the dreaded Bakassi Boys then, because they succeeded in reducing crimes to the barest minimum, but these days, we insist that suspected criminals should be given the benefit of fair hearing.

 

The group is not licensed to prosecute criminals or take another life. It should allow those charged with the responsibility to do so”.

Anambra Government Debunks the return of Bakassi Boys
Anambra Government Debunks the return of Bakassi Boys

Mrs. Ijeoma Uche, a trader in Enugu, who said she heard about the news, added: “I hope it does not compromise the already bad security of the state? I hope they have really come to provide security services and not to add to the pains of the people? This is because there are several security outfits working in the state, yet crimes have continued to increase. If they have come to compliment what is on ground, I will support them but if it is to create additional pains on our people, then, whoever is behind them, should retreat.

 

 


“I know that with the level of insecurity in the land, the people are desirous to finding solutions to them. So I encourage them to support them, if it is established that they are for the safety of the people”.

 

However, a statement signed by the State’s Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment, Don Adinuba on Thursday, described the report as ‘false’.

 

“An unidentified amateur video photographer has made a video claiming that the controversial security outfit known as Bakassi Boys, which was two decades ago used in Abia and Anambra states when the two neighbouring states were almost overrun by violent criminals, is back, this time in Awka, the Anambra State capital. The video quickly went viral because of its sensational appeal. A section of even the mainstream media has publicized the video, thus giving it a veneer of credibility.”

 

“The Anambra State Government would like to assure all Ndi Anambra that the Bakassi Boys security outfit is not in Anambra State, and will not be used again in the state. Anambra State remains the safest state in the country, despite the eight security breaches of the past few months which received enormous publicity. The people and Government of Anambra State are proud of the record of security agencies in the state which have substantially overcome the challenges of the last few months.”

 

“The section of the media that reported the purported return of the so-called Bakassi Boys, which is not backed by any law in the state, would have known better if only they had contacted any official of the Anambra State Government, especially the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, who is well reputed for having easily the greatest open-door policy of all his peers in the country and always endavours to promptly address the query or inquiry of every journalist. In fact, the journalists would have availed themselves of the right information if they had bothered to speak to any official of the Anambra Vigilante Group (AVG) or any official of the Awka Youth Movement.”

 

 


“What the journalists and some members of the public innocently confused with Bakassi Boys’ return to the state is a noble effort of some Awka indigenes to fish out cultists in the community who have attempted to capitalize on the inadequate number of policemen on patrol in the town in the last few months to fight themselves with dangerous weapons.”

 

“The fights among cultists resulted in some casualties. Awka youth, appalled by the sad development in their peaceful hometown, decided to fish out the cultists from their residences and hideouts. An unidentified young amateur video photographer recorded one of the operations and can be heard in the video exuberantly screaming “Bakassi! Bakassi Boys are back in Awka!”

 

“The hysterical announcement is far from the truth. Any person who watches the video to the end will certainly see two vans which belong to the Anambra Vigilante Group right in the scene. No fair-minded person can mistake the AVG for the unorthodox security outfit which was outlawed several years ago. Whereas Bakassi Boys used to arrest suspects, tried them within minutes and executed them in broad daylight in a most savage manner, the AVG is a modern security outfit created by law.”

 

“It neither tries nor sentences suspects. A stickler for due process, the AVG cannot tolerate lawlessness. It works in close collaboration with the traditional ruler and president general of each of the 179 communities in the state but also the Nigeria Police Force. In fact, the AVG chairman is Mr Ikechukwu Aduba, a fantastic gentleman, author and historian who used to be an excellent police commissioner.”

 

 


“The people of Anambra State are advised to go about their normal business. Anambra State is peaceful and calm. There is no Bakassi Boys security outfit in Awka or any other part of our beloved state. The existing security agencies are doing their best to protect all of us.”

TEMI BADMUS
Temi Badmus is a Food scientist and an Art enthusiast. Her desire is to give a listening ear to people and to give an opportunity for everyone to be heard. She is a humorous and controversial writer, who believes all form of writing is audible if it's done well. Temi Badmus is research oriented, dog lover; she is currently a mum to two brutal Jack Russell terrier " Cash and Indigo" . 🐕 🐕 The future is female... The future is Productive.