Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, on Wednesday debunked claims of the return of the dreaded Bakassi Boys to the state.
The dreaded group was set up under the administration of Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju to combat crimes in the state and was reputed for dispensing jungle justice to identified culprits.
The group was, however, outlawed by the Federal Government.
In a statement, the commissioner said a viral video announcing the return of the group was misleading.
The statement reads: “No Bakassi Boys in Anambra State
1. An unidentified amateur video photographer has made a video claiming that the controversial security outfit known as Bakassi Boys, which was two decades ago used in Abia and Anambra states when the two neighbouring states were almost overrun by violent criminals, is back, this time in Awka, the Anambra State capital. The video quickly went viral because of its sensational appeal. A section of even the mainstream media has publicized the video, thus giving it a veneer of credibility.
2. The Anambra State Government would like to assure all Ndi Anambra that the Bakassi Boys security outfit is not in Anambra State, and will not be used again in the state. Anambra State remains the safest state in the country, despite the eight security breaches of the past few months which received enormous publicity. The people and Government of Anambra State are proud of the record of security agencies in the state which have substantially overcome the challenges of the last few months.
3. The section of the media that reported the purported return of the so-called Bakassi Boys, which is not backed by any law in the state, would have known better if only they had contacted any official of the Anambra State Government, especially the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, who is well reputed for having easily the greatest open-door policy of all his peers in the country and always endavours to promptly address the query or inquiry of every journalist. In fact, the journalists would have availed themselves of the right information if they had bothered to speak to any official of the Anambra Vigilante Group (AVG) or any official of the Awka Youth Movement.
4. What the journalists and some members of the public innocently confused with Bakassi Boys’ return to the state is a noble effort of some Awka indigenes to fish out cultists in the community who have attempted to capitalize on the inadequate number of policemen on patrol in the town in the last few months to fight themselves with dangerous weapons. The fights among cultists resulted in some casualties. Awka youth, appalled by the sad development in their peaceful hometown, decided to fish out the cultists from their residences and hideouts. An unidentified young amateur video photographer recorded one of the operations and can be heard in the video exuberantly screaming “Bakassi! Bakassi Boys are back in Awka!”
5. The hysterical announcement is far from the truth. Any person who watches the video to the end will certainly see two vans which belong to the Anambra Vigilante Group right in the scene. No fair-minded person can mistake the AVG for the unorthodox security outfit which was outlawed several years ago. Whereas Bakassi Boys used to arrest suspects, tried them within minutes and executed them in broad daylight in a most savage manner, the AVG is a modern security outfit created by law. It neither tries nor sentences suspects. A stickler for due process, the AVG cannot tolerate lawlessness. It works in close collaboration with the traditional ruler and president general of each of the 179 communities in the state but also the Nigeria Police Force. In fact, the AVG chairman is Mr Ikechukwu Aduba, a fantastic gentleman, author and historian who used to be an excellent police commissioner.
6. The people of Anambra State are advised to go about their normal business. Anambra State is peaceful and calm. There is no Bakassi Boys security outfit in Awka or any other part of our beloved state. The existing security agencies are doing their best to protect all of us.
God bless Anambra State, the Light of the Nation.