By Tony Okafor, Awka
The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, has commended the Anambra Vigilante Group ( AVG) for the protection of life and property in his kingdom.
He said the people of his kingdom relied
wholly on the vigilante services for prevention.
Achebe stated this on Saturday in his message for this year’s Ofala festival.
The monarch said the statutory security agencies that had bases in Onitsha, namely the police, army, navy and the Department of State Security ( DSS) were reactive towards crime, adding, ” Our reliance for prevention is, therefore, wholly on our vigilante services in two formations.
“These are the Anambra State Vigilante Group( AVG), numbering 25 persons under the command of the state government and the Onicha Ado community vigilante ( OCVU), numbering about 59 persons under the command of Ime Obi Obi Obi Onicha.
” Both groups work collaboratively together and with the statutory agencies, occasionally supported by Onitsha Youths Council, to maintain relative peace in the common.
“Our biggest challenge is the inadequacy of funding for salaries, equipment, and consumables which is literally borne by the community, except for the paltry state government contribution of only N10,000 each for ten persons per month only.Their minimum salary of N20,000 is below the national minimum wage salary and we have to augment with benefits in kind.
” The other major challenge is needed to structurally merge the two vigilante groups under one command for optimum effect.
The monarch expressed worry over the state of crime in his kingdom ( Onitsha)
Attributing the high rate of crime in his domain to urbanization, the monarch said,”Onitsha has become the destination for the mostly jobless and transient youths from the rural community in search for an elusive better life.”
He said,”Like other large cities in the country,Onitsha had its own share of security challenges during the year and continuing.
“Being the centerpiece of a massive urban spread of contiguous communities, it is virtually impose to ring-fence our community from the overall security situation in the urban conundrum.
“Consequently, our main challenges remain youth unemployment, gangsterism, touring, homelessness, petty and armed robbery, cultism, drug addiction, child prostitution, rape,etc.
“Unfortunately,the Indigenous community is not spared of these pressured of urbanization, and we constantly struggling to maintain a balance between our traditional life and modernisation.”
He said the Ofala Festival had grown steadily in terms of its scope, social glamour, and intrinsic meaning for Ndi Onicha, adding, “With the strides that it (Ofala) has made, the Ofala continues to receive both national and international recognition.”
Speakings, the Anambra State Governor,Prof Chukwuma Soludo, congratulated Igwe Achebe on the celebration of this year’s Ofala, describing the Monarch’s achievements in past 21years as unprecedented, especially in the area of youth empowerment.
He reassured his commitment in fighting crime and criminality in the commercial city, saying, “If Greater Onitsha doesn’t move forward, Alaigbo won’t move forward.
“That’s why we’re embarking on massive road construction in Onitsha and sacking of agbero, even though they keep resurfacing. But we won’t relent until all of them are flushed out.
“In the coming weeks, something outstanding will happen in the state in terms of security, so our people should be expectant,” the governor stated