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Insecurity: Rising on Okigwe/lokpa umulolo axis, Enugu- Port Harcourt highway

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The Enugu- Port Harcourt highway is a major road artery cutting through most of the South-East of Nigeria. The Okigwe lokpa umulolo stretch of the superhighway represents the heart of this all important road network connecting the East to the middle belt, the Midwest and the south South of Nigeria.

Lately, this portion of the road has been in the news for the wrong reasons. Insecurity bedevilsthe country and this portion of the highway has witnessed an upsurge in abduction of innocent Nigerian travellers in a crime popularly known as kidnapping.

Among recent high profile abduction is the kidnap of the Methodist prelate of Nigeria alongside his aids and other senior officials of the church. Suddenly a simmering situation of insecurity gained national prominence. The man of God and his co-captors were let go after going through a traumatic experience at the hands of their abductors following payment of huge sums of money as Ransom.

Among many others, in recent days four reverend sisters of the Catholic church are among latest victims. Police officers have also become victims of rising insecurity in the arear.

Securing the life and property of citizens is the responsibility of government. Reports indicate  that not too far from the point of these reported abductions on the highway, an army security check post is located. This begs the question- are the soldiers unaware of these acts of criminality ‘ongoing’ on such an important highway within the south East. What are the soldiers doing to secure the arear?

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Following public outcry as a result of the embarrassing abduction of the Methodist prelate, the government in ABIA state moved to sanitise operations at the lokpa cattle market suspected of harbouring criminals alleged to be involved in these condemnable acts.

Yet the situation persists unabated. Government at all levels can not afford to loose control of security on this ever busy and all important road network. Security agents of government must find the will and muster the means to rid the arear of this menace quickly before more Nigerians fall victim and loose their lives.

The state government must collaborate with federal security agencies and local communities within affected axis of the highway to make the Enugu Port Harcourt highway safe again.

Tackling this ugly trend is not beyond the authorities. Special focus must be placed on this growing cancer of insecurity with the aim to remove the tumour before it spreads further. Tactical security teams can remove the criminal elements from the highway with adequate training and equipment. Government must show the will to recover and keep travellers safe on the highway.

Nigerian highways can not be allowed to become the den of criminals. The state of the Abuja Kaduna highway is an ongoing night mare for the whole nation while the peace on the Lagos Ibadan highway is also being threatened. The east west highway in the south South of the country has had more than a fair share of criminal activities.

Roads in Nigeria provide the major means of transportation in the country. The road infrastructure is far more developed than the rail system or any other means of transportation in the country.Bandits and criminal elements must not be allowed to seize our roads.

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Written by a journalist Emeka Chigbu.

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