Nigeria's southeastern state of Anambra has been plagued in recent
months by a string of armed robberies and kidnappings. Residents say
the growing insecurity is driven by criminality and violence from the
proliferation of armed gangs.
Armed robberies, vehicle hijackings and
kidnappings of foreigners and wealthy Nigerians have become
increasingly common across southeastern Nigeria. Criminal gangs have
left the region's residents living in a state of insecurity.
Okechukwu Aneche, a trader in Awka, Anambra state, southeast Nigeria, says he is troubled by the surge in violent crime.
is a very worrisome situation," said Aneche. "For the past three weeks
or so we have experienced so many cases of kidnapping within Awka, the
capital city of Anambra state. It is quite worrisome. A lot of
residents here in Awka they don't sleep anymore because of insecurity."
banks in Anambra state have been forced to close down in the past few
weeks following a spike in armed robberies and kidnappings. A
government report this week said the southeast has become the
kidnapping region of Nigeria, with more abductions than any other
region in the country, including insurgency-wracked Niger Delta.
Nigerian parliament also summoned security chiefs for a briefing on the
growing insecurity in the southeast, regarded as one of Nigeria's
biggest trading centers.
Emeka Chukwuemeka, a police spokesman
in Anambra state, told VOA the growing insecurity was having a great
negative effect on the economy of the region.
thing is really causing economic hardship to the state," he said. "It
is scaring away investors, its scaring away people from doing their
business. People no longer interact and socialize with one another."
only foreigners were targeted. But now even middle or working class
Nigerians are snatched off the streets, for ransoms as low as a few
hundred dollars. Poverty and unemployment are blamed for the trend.
Police spokesman Chukwuemeka says security forces are working hard to stem kidnappings by criminal gangs in the state.
business is becoming a thing of the past in Anambra state because we
have a robust strategy; we have a crime fighter in place, in the name
of Amusa Bello, who is the head of police in Anambra state right now.
He is doing whatever is possible to contain these people and the
violent criminals in the state," he said.
The police say
kidnappers and hostage takers in Nigeria collected ransoms of over $100
million between 2006 and January 2008. Hundreds of foreign workers have
been kidnapped over the past three years.
The Movement for the
Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, the country's main militant
group, started kidnapping foreign oil workers three years ago as part
of its campaign for a greater share of the region's oil wealth.