By Rebecca Ejifoma
Operatives of the Anambra State Police Command, yesterday, averted crisis in Eziowelle Community, Idemili North Local Government Area by clamping down on an illegal COVID-19 taskforce in the state.
The self-acclaimed taskforce was clamped down on for allegedly extorting community members.
During a recent burial in Eziowelle Community, the group had invaded the funeral ceremony and extorted money from the bereaved family. The illegal task force team, which claimed it was authorised by administrators of the community, were said to have chased away sympathisers and abruptly stopped mourners from burying the 65-year-old woman, who died after a protracted illness.
The group who were accompanied by armed policemen, reportedly succeeded in extorting about N90,000 from relations of the dead woman before irate youths in the community confronted and accosted them.
It was gathered that elders of the community quickly intervened and stopped what could have resulted into a bloodbath.
The chairman of the aggrieved youths, Ugochukwu Asikwo told journalists that they were pushed to the wall because of the illegal activities of administrators of the community whom he alleged to have connived with the illegal task force and police to rip money off the bereaved family.
He said: “They claimed they were after security and development levies. There is no such thing in our community. We have since rejected administrators of our community because of the atrocities they have been committing.”
Another leader in the community, Anthony Ojemba Chigbo, alleged that the rejected administrators in the town had been using the illegal task force team to extort huge sums of money from dwellers.
Meanwhile, a distraught elder in the community, Emeka Molokwu revealed that government gazzette stipulated N1,500 for burial ceremonies but the illegal team collected more with threats, harassment and intimidation.
Reacting to the development, the state police spokesman, SP Haruna Mohammed, on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, John Abang, stated that the clampdown was against all persons involved in incessant extortions, harassment, intimidation, assault and wearing of masks claiming to be enforcing COVID-19 measures.
He said: “The hoodlums wear reflective jackets and operate in shuttle buses/tricycle with stickers bearing COVID-19 Task Force. No such task force was constituted to operate in the state.”