AN OPEN APPEAL TO THE GOC COMMANDING 82 DIVISION ENUGU TO RELOCATE THE MILITARY CHECKPOINT OUT FROM THE HEART OF AGULU TOWN.

Major General Lagbaja,
General Officer Commanding
82 Division,
Military Cantonment,
Abakpa,
Enugu.

AN OPEN APPEAL TO THE GOC COMMANDING 82 DIVISION ENUGU TO RELOCATE THE MILITARY CHECKPOINT OUT FROM THE HEART OF AGULU TOWN.

My Dear General,

Firstly, I wish to commend your dedication to the security challenges in southeastern Nigeria particularly Anambra State. The officers, men and women of the Nigeria Army 82 division Enugu, has been equal to the task in ensuring maximum security and protection of lives and properties.

It is important that I draw your attention to the danger posed by the military checkpoint at the heart of Agulu town, in Anaocha LGA of Anambra State. This checkpoint is situated directly in front of Agulu Unity hall which attracts heavy human and vehicular traffic with thriving commercial activities around the vicinity.

The Unity hall in it’s kind is sacred to Agulu people, it upholds the peculiarities and cultural heritage of the community. The military unit was quartered in the town hall at the height of the security challenges leading to the last gubernatorial election in the State Nov.6th 2021. Now that the election has come and gone, their continued stay is no longer deemed necessary, as unethical conducts from the soldiers are now rife in abberation to Agulu culture norms and belief.

Aisha Edwards Maduagwu
Director,
Sickle Cell Orphanage and Underprivileged Home Agulu.

This has opened up violent attacks by unknown gunmen targeting the military personnels with the intent to dislodge them, thereby causing heavy civilian casualties caught up in the cross fire. On two separate occasions, gunmen have unsuccessfully invaded the checkpoint opening fire which had resulted in both soldiers and civilian casualties.

The latest episode of the attacks was just recently on 30th April, when the hall was being used as a venue to host a free medical outreach program sponsored by a federal lawmaker. The gathering had in attendance men, women and children, including the aged and sick persons, with medical practitioners from diverse fields of medicine attending to their health needs.

The staccato of gunfire that announced the presence of the unknown gunmen jolted everybody, causing panic everywhere and making people to scamper for safety in different directions. Old women scrambling over themselves to scale a 5ft fence. Children docking under chairs and tables because they saw others doing so. Bullets were whizzing through the air followed by loud burst of explosions. The melee went unabated for quite sometime. We narrowly missed the burning down completely of the hall by the rampaging gunmen who went ahead to vandalize the vehicles parked in the premises. This avoidably sad development is a risk too great a price for us to pay.

When the dust finally settled, a young Lady operating computer opposite the town hall has been mauled down by stray bullets. A soldier has been equally killed. Some civilian bystanders also suffered various degrees of bullet injuries and were evacuated to the hospital. Pain and agony rented the air. People began questioning the need of a military checkpoint in the heart of a quiet town. The gunmen left unscathed to the chagrin that even a strand of their hair were untouched.

As one who had positively projected the image of the army and defence headquarters with my days as a roving correspondent for various military tabloids, I would not sit back and allow such bad blood to fester between the Agulu populace and the military. If things are not addressed adequately on such notice, the civil/military relationship which is a directorate in the Army that is paramount to achieve credible results in security and warm relationship with the civilian populace will inadvertently break down completely.

The military high command which you are amongst the top brass should consider relocating the checkpoint out from the heart of the town and be situated possibly in the boundary location away from human concentrations and residential areas. This would minimize civilian casualties in the case of attacks, and the soldiers would be properly positioned to repel such attack without fear of hitting civilians in the cross fire. You will agree with me that in military divisions, settlement, installation, and barracks the duty posts and quarter guards are removed far away from residential and adminstrative blocks to prevent unforseen circumstances. Such policy and measures should also be adhered to in any civilian environment unless in a state of emergency.

Another foreseeable occurrences is the traffic gridlock that torments commuters when approaching the checkpoint. The road is economically strategic as it connects the southeastern States of Abia and Imo directly to the Anambra state capital Awka. These commuters also risk being caught in cross fires when hold up in these traffic gridlocks. I would have become a victim on the episode of 30 April, if not that I abandoned my vehicle and fled into a nearby bush for safety cover.

Kindly consider this appeal on the basis of re-strategizing the military unit for maximum efficiency and productivity, as well as shielding civilian lives from being caught up in any ensuing cross fire.

I believe to have spoken the minds of majority of Agulu indigenes who have grown very apprehensive and tensed about the dangers posed by the continued stay of the military checkpoint in the heart of the town particularly the town hall converted to soldiers resident.

We would continue to support all efforts to bring lasting peace and security to Anambra State and the Nigerian Nation.

Thank you sir for your professionalism and understanding.

Yours Sincerely

Aisha Edwards Maduagwu
Director,
Sickle Cell Orphanage and Underprivileged Home Agulu.
07014152622.

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