Breakdown of law and order, which could have engulfed the entire commercial city of Onitsha, capital of Anambra State, was last Friday averted.
This was even as many traders in various markets of the city stormed the White House, the administrative headquarter of the Onitsha Main Market carrying knives, machetes and other dangerous objects, chanting war songs and demanding the release of a notorious criminal popularly known in the city as Ikanda for public lynching.
According to reports, the traders’ demand was based on a false rumour that filtered throughout the city that the police division of the market together with the market vigilante headed by Chief Chinenye Ihenko, aka Okpompi, have arrested the notorious criminal and is keeping him in their custody inside the market.
The notorious criminal Ikanda, whose real name is Ikechukwu Udensi, was last week declared wanted by the police as a result of the killing of a young trader by the gangster and his gang in the town.
The killing, which generated tension and anxiety in the entire Onitsha metropolis, forced many traders to team up and vow to avenge the killing but the criminal.
Reports say he was however lucky to escape to an unknown destination. But the traders in anger, mobilized forces and staged a public protest which shook the town as many banks, schools, and shops closed temporarily for the day because of fear of being affected by the angry mob.
Newsmen who monitored the situation gathered that the rumoured arrest of the criminal started filtering into the town as early as 6am in the morning of the day.
When many of the traders started hearing about the rumoured arrest, they abandoned their shops, rushed to the White House Main Market to have a glimpse of the notorious criminal but were prevented from gaining access to the Market Police Division where they believed the criminal was kept in custody.
Sources said that as they trooped out they formed a huge crowd and started chanting war songs and in the process went to look for dangerous weapons like knives, cutlass, materials etc and when they came back demanded that the criminal should be brought to them for instant judgment.
Newsmen gathered that this situation which nearly snowballed into a full-scale street protest that could have led to serious breakdown of law and order in the entire commercial city was later brought under control by the joint efforts of the police division and vigilante of the market who shot sporadically into the air to disperse the huge crowd.
Investigation showed that what was termed as the arrest of the notorious criminal by the huge crowd was the police division’s arrest of two alleged in-laws of the criminal who are women together with an electrician, carpenter, and a member of the gang who was arrested when they went to the criminal residence at Nsugbe to cart away the criminal properties probably on the instance of the criminal. (Independent)