By Amby Uneze in Owerri
The Imo State Police Command has recovered 169 guns, 99 cartridges, 2,323 ammunition and 25 empty magazines from unauthorised persons in the state.
Disclosing this to journalists at the commandâ€™s headquarters in Owerri where the items were displayed Wednesday, the command’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Okey Ezike, said that the recovery was in pursuit of the directive of the Inspector-General of Police (IG) that all illegally-possessed firearms by Nigerians be returned to the police for the betterment of society.
Ezike said that the mop-up/recovery exercise by the police had not only led to a reduction in the number of light and small but dangerous weapons within the state, but had equally led to a reduction in crime of various dimensions such as kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism/cult-related violence and brigandage, adding that: “Firearms are facilitators of violence and the mop-up of illegal arms will no doubt restore peace to our community and keep our communities safe and secure.â€
He assured residents of the state that all suspects arrested in connection with the recoveries that were not voluntarily made were facing various charges in court, adding that the measure had become an exercise in proactivity aimed at checking the activities of “would be political thugs as we journey towards 2019â€.
The commissioner similarly listed 17 arms/ammunition/other items surrendered by the repentant militants but which were in the custody of the military as: one rocket launcher with one grenade, five AK riffles with 16 magazines, one LAR riffle with one magazine, one dynamite, one 25 black pistols, and one locally made single barrel pistol.
Others included seven single barrel guns, three double barrel guns, one triple barrel gun, and 130 rounds of AK47 ammunition, 19 rounds of LAR ammunition, three live cartridges, four military camouflage uniforms, one police black uniform, eight khaki uniforms, four military boots as well as police belts, three black beret and three red beret.
He said that one Chibundu Ezeala from Ukuakabia Ehime Mbano Local Government Area and Ihedioha Chizoba from Obowo all in Imo State were arrested in connection with the murder of one Jude Emeka Onye from Amainyi in the Ihitte Uboma council area of the state.
According to him, the victim aged 42 in the said Ihitte Uboma LGA had just arrived his country home from Spain and after some days, briefly went out with some of his friends to have a leisure time at a drinking joint but unknown to him, a gang of four, comprising the suspects who were armed with all sorts of dangerous weapons had all along trailed him.
â€œOn sighting the victim, they quickly swooped on him and in an attempt to escape, they opened fire, killing him on the spot,” he said.
Ezike, who attributed the upsurge of possession of illegal firearms in the country to smuggling through porous borders, local and illegal manufacture of arms/ammunition, relics of the Nigeria/Biafra civil war in the country and seizure of rifles recovered from slain policemen by criminals, advised residents of the state to be security conscious especially when approaching their residence at night.