The Abia State Governor, Alex Otti, recently brought attention to the precarious security state in the region by revealing the discovery of more than 50 Headless bodies and 20 decapitated bodies near Umuchieze Regional Cattle Market, in Umunneochi Local Government Area of the state.

    Abia State’s Umunneochi/Isuikwuato/Uturu axis has recently been the state’s core of insecurity as a result of several kidnappings and banditry that have turned the region into a dangerous location. The area, which includes the nearby states of Okigwe in Imo State, Awgu in Enugu State, and Isiagu in Ebonyi State, is well-known for its high crime rate, particularly for ransom kidnappings.

    Former Methodist Church Prelate Around the area, His Eminence Samuel Uche and several clerics in his entourage were kidnapped. Their release was contingent upon the payment of an astounding N100 million ransom. Shortly after, the Prelate claimed in a press conference that his kidnappers were Fulani bandits.

    In the region, a number of additional people were abducted; some were set free when ransoms were given. While some victims have not been seen again even after ransoms were paid, others were so unlucky that they never made it back alive.

    The Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, which formerly went through the region, is now a nightmare to travel on. There have been incidents where cars on the highway were ambushed, and the bandits kidnapped all the passengers and marched them through the open bush during the day.

    Aside from instances of kidnapping for ransom, there were also reports of violent assaults and cases of rape by bandits. At some point, the Isuochi communities were on the brink of becoming deserted as the bandits wreaked havoc with little opposition. Security officials found themselves unable to contain the situation, as they too became targets of the attacks.

    One such incident involved the abduction of a Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) in Umunneochi, whose whereabouts remain unknown even after a year. Despite appeals for government intervention, the pleas fell on deaf ears, leaving the people to fend for themselves.

    The situation escalated to an unprecedented level when a hearse carrying a corpse from Delta to Isuikwuato was intercepted near Ihube, resulting in the abduction of the occupants, including the driver, while leaving the corpse on the highway.

    50 Headless Bodies
    abia state GOVERNOR

    These dire circumstances prompted several protests by the youth of Umunneochi, demanding the immediate relocation of the cattle market from their vicinity. They accused some security officials at the checkpoints of being involved and lenient with the criminals.

    They said that the market served as a haven for the bandits and criminals responsible for the atrocities committed in the area. They further claimed that while the authorities turned a blind eye, the illegal drug trade, prostitution, and other criminal activity flourished in the market.

    Despite the presence of numerous security checkpoints in the surrounding areas, the security situation didn’t improve until recently when Governor Otti initiated Operation Crush. The new security initiative appears to be yielding positive results, leading to a noticeable decrease in the frequency of kidnappings and bandit attacks in the region.

    During a recent town hall meeting organized by the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Insecurity in the Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency, the Commanding Officer of the 143 Rangers Battalion Ovim, Isuikwuato, Lt. Col. A Adebayo, commended Governor Otti for providing crucial logistical support for Operation Crush. He highlighted that the security operation had contributed to the decline in criminal activities.

    Furthermore, the Governor’s Security Adviser attributed the success of Operation Crush and the decrease in kidnapping incidents on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway to the demolition of criminal hideouts, particularly the brothels in the market area.

    Despite these advancements, there are concerns about certain unidentified entities that appear to be discontent with the ongoing anti-insecurity measures in the state. The exact identity and motives of these entities remain unclear.

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