The deteriorating security situation in Awka, Anambra State is a great concern to residents of the capital city and its environs.

Some university students and business owners in the city are already counting their loses, in addition to the trauma resulting from the activities of men of the underworld.

Those of them who recounted their ordeal with armed robbers appealed to the state government and security agencies to rise to the occasion of safeguarding lives and sources of their livelihood.

“Two months ago, I was robbed right inside this shop. I refused to give them my phone, they pointed gun on my head. So, my life is more important than phone, I released it,” Chuks Henry, (not his real name), narrated his personal encounter with insecurity at Ifite, one of the communities hosting students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU) Awka, Anambra State.

Henry, who runs a fast food centre, went through the day’s business without any inclination of the dangers ahead of him.

“I closed late because I was cooking for people as usual. Around 10 to 11pm, I was with four of my customers when a gang of masked guys besieged my shop and took all our phones. It was like a movie to me,” he lamented.

He attempted to display bravery but the gun-wielding criminals were unstoppable.

“I wanted to resist but they put gun in my head, I had to release my phone. If not, they would have shot me.

“That day, people were passing in front of this place but no one knew what was going on. I used to see people who called themselves vigilante. We pay for them to secure us but they only come out once in a while,” he cried out.

As a result of the spate of armed robbery incidents, night life has ceased around the school area.

“Three to four years ago, even around 12 am, this area would be booming. But now, by 9pm, everyone has gone inside for fear of being robbed.

“Even at that, the criminals still go into the lodges for their evil operations.

“They once shut a guy for refusing to give them his phone. There was a time they were raping girls regularly. Now is robbery,” the young businessman narrated.

A lecturer at UNIZIK, Michael Oluyemi leaves at Amansea, another host community to thousands of students.

He recounted his personal experience from which he is yet to recover.

“I was sleeping. I started hearing the strange noise as they banged and hit the doors. They used heavy object to break down the strong security doors. They started from the ground floor and later came upstairs.

“I woke up and sat on my bed. I couldn’t open the door because I didn’t know where they were. All of a sudden, there was a bang on my door. I was already dead because there was no way to escape,” he recalled.

The hoodlums dispossessed all residents of their valuables but Michael was among the fortunate ones.

“I expected the worst, but by God’s benevolence, they simply told me to sleep and switched off my phone.

“While this lasted, I was not thinking about anything else but my life. I forgot family, property and others. It is a traumatic experience,” the lecturer, who decried the frequent operations by hoodlums, said.

“After invading our lodge on the 18th of June unchallenged, they came back two days later to another lodge and again on Monday this week (3rd July, 2023), they went to another hostel in front of mine.

“They came prepared under the heavy rain to unleash terror. They were shooting into the air to scare everyone.

“There is no security in this place. I have not seen any, whether vigilante or police. Every day, we live in fear of what happens next,” he regretted.

Jasper Best, a 200-level student of UNIZIK has not had a personal encounter, but he recalled how the hoodlums have unleashed terror on another lodge around him.

“They have robbed a lodge after mine for up to three times. They came on Friday, returned on Sunday and came back the third time.

“The most painful thing is that they always go away with the crime. In fact, Ifite is not safe at all,” he submitted even as he advanced likely reasons for the present vulnerable state of the area.

“We don’t have security men here. We have vigilante, but they are not active. I think they are working with the bad boys. There is no police station anywhere around Ifite. These hoodlums take advantage of that,” Jasper pointed out.

Another respondent who owns a medicine shop and did not want his name mentioned, expressed regret about the ugly development which is negatively affecting productivity on the part of the students, traders and other residents.

“Before now, people could go about their businesses even around 9 or 10pm. That is history now. You stay longer than 8pm now at your risk.

“If affects our businesses. Many no longer come out with their handsets for fear of being robbed. So, generally, there is much fear all around here and something needs to be done,” the respondent lamented.

The situation has become unbearable for Ifeoma Ijeoma, a female student who has concluded arrangement to relocate to another area.

“If I have finished my studies, I will just relocate from this Awka. It is now difficult for people to sleep with two eyes closed.

“We are not safe on the road, same in the lodge. What type of life is this,” she queried.


Dissecting the situation, a security expert, Chris Udeze, said the current situation could be linked to cult-related killings which preceded it.

“What we had before now in Awka was cult-related violence. You must know that violence gives rise to another form of it.

“You see how Boko Haram, which started in the North East, spread to other parts of the North. Same applies here.

“From cultism, Awka is now experiencing armed robbery and kidnapping. You can’t divorce one from the other,” Udeze said.

He tasked the state government to waste no time in nipping the crime wave in the bud.

“It is something which must be dealt with holistically. The government has a very big responsibility here because the capital city must be secure even if other parts of the state are not secured.

“I was so surprised one of those days. I was going home late and I drove through all the nipping points in Awka, along the express, security men were non-existent,” he uttered in surprise.

Mr. Udeze also argues that crime rate tends to rise any time there is a change of guard within the security architecture.

“It becomes a challenge to the new sheriff in town to ensure that he is not welcomed with an increase rate of crime. So, he needs to up his action, to ensure that the operations department is on their toes.

“He was here sometimes and he is worth his onions. He knows what to do because I view this as a personal challenge to him,” the security expert submitted.

The security expert also suggested a productive working synergy between the security and law enforcement to keep the Awka and its environs free from crime.

“The CP needs to work with other security agencies. The DSS, for instance, is a pool of intel that the police can tap from if they are working hand in hand. Dealing with crime means you must be proactive.

“Productivity is already undermined because people are afraid to go about their businesses. They leave the street before dark because nobody wants to die. It is a very sad development as far as the capital city of Awka is concerned. Very sad indeed,” Udeze ended his Lamentation.


Despite the worrying situation, the Police command in Anambra State is not aware of the current realities in the affected areas.

Its Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tochukwu Ikenga, said he does not have such report.

“I don’t have such report. I will encourage them if they have any incident like that, they should go to the closest police station and report and our phone numbers are out there. My number is in public, just like you call me, any other person can call. They should always let us know.

“Anyway, this is like an intelligence report that you are giving me. I have to put eye on it. But, if you have victims of such incidents, they should come forward.

“The PPRO office is open. They should come and help us with information.

“The DPO covering there and the DCO are always active. Our department of operations always on patrol at night.

“But for purposes of reporting real time, my number is on 24 hours. They can call and we will react to incidents like that, the PPRO said.

Residents of some of the affected lodges, especially in the Amansea axis, have taken it upon themselves to secure their valuables during the night hours.

“People came out last night to safeguard the lodges. When I was hearing the siren, I thought the security men came around until this morning somebody told me it was the people living in the lodges,” one of the residents explained.


“We need to be seeing them always. Sometime they come out here, they block the road and search bikes and vehicles any time from 10pm. That is good but they need to be regular,” one of the anonymous respondents regretted as he was corroborated by Mr. Jasper Best.

“Government needs to bring security all over this place. We need the police and army officers. Police cannot handle it alone,” the anonymous respondent suggested.

In his submission, one Oluyemi said “there should be a vibrant joint security network around here. Government should act speedily because even as I speak now, people just go to their different lodges and resign themselves to fate. Just commit their lives to God to intervene.

“Inquiries from the affected areas revealed that there are several link roads which readily serve as escape routes for the criminals,” Oluyemi pointed out.

Adding his voice, a victim of the criminal attacks, Chuks Henry urged security agents to properly guard the roads at all times.

“We need constant patrol operations in the nooks and crannies of Ifite. You might be here and they will be operating at the back which they usually do,” Henry remarked.

On the need for more presence of the police and other security outfits, the PPRO sad “we will look into it. The police institution is not rigid. We are flexible. So, we will look into such request and see what to do about it.”

But, the security expert, Udeze, argued that ensuring better presence of security operatives is more important than creating a police station in that area.

“Before crime takes place, every criminal wants to live to enjoy their loots. So, what they do first of all is to survey their escape routes. If there will be no challenge, they will strike.

“But, when they know that they will not be able to escape, they suspend action until the time and condition become favourable.

“Security is not where you are chasing criminals all over the place. Visible presence of security operatives discourages the occurrence of crime, not necessarily having police stations in all the nooks and crannies of the city.

“There is need to mobilize security presence in all the parts of Awka. Deployed well-armed security personnel who will not be molesting the citizens but will professionally discharge the responsibility they are drafted for.

“The government of the day must not shirk this responsibility because if they cannot guarantee the security of Awka, how can we be sure that they will be able to keep other parts safe. Awka takes priority because it is the seat of government,” Udeze submitted.

The respondents urged the police and other security agencies in Anambra State to mobilise their personnel to ensure protection of lives and property in the state capital and other parts of the area.