By Vincent Ujumadu
NORMALCY is gradually returning to the various communities in Anambra State following last week’s killing of the suspected leader of the dreaded unknown gunmen popularly called ‘Double Lion’, operating from Orlu area of Imo State through some communities in Ihiala and Nnewi South in Anambra.
Double Lion and four members of his gang were killed by a suspected rival group at Ihiala at a time moving around the state had become frightening.
It was gathered that Double Lion originally belonged to the mainstream gunmen, but later formed another more daring group. His group was the one allegedly terrorizing most communities in Anambra South senatorial zone and forcing people who have functions to pay them hundreds of thousands of naira before such functions could take place. And once the money was paid, organizers of the event were strictly warned never to invite security operatives. Recently, two persons who defied the warning at Ihiala had their houses burnt.
In the past few months, most communities in the state had become deserted as the unknown gunmen allegedly led by Double Lion infiltrated villages and moving from house to house to find those who came back from their places of abode for the purpose of kidnapping them. Apart from kidnapping for ransom, the gunmen have been killing people with impunity. The group was also said to be responsible for the confiscation of arms and ammunition procured by communities for their vigilante outfits, thereby rendering communities defenseless.
It was therefore heartwarming to the people of the state when the lifeless bodies of Double Lion and four members of his gang were paraded by another set of gunmen after they were routed in their den at Ogwuaniocha, a sleepy village across Ulasi River in Ihiala.
According to a very reliable source, Double Lion and his members were taken unawares and therefore could not mobilize to challenge their attackers on that fateful day.
While parading their bodies last week, the other group was seen in a viral video complaining that despite their decision to stop kidnapping for ransom and killing innocent people, Double Lion had continued to terrorize Anambra State, even though he is not from the state.
An indigene of Ihiala, Mr. Damian Ngoka said: “Double Lion’and his fellow gunmen have a camp at a place called Oseakwa from where they have been terrorizing Ihiala, Okija, Uli and other neighbouring communities.
“For some time, they have been disrupting burials and demanding to be settled before any ceremony is organized. They are also the group that has been kidnapping people and snatching cars.
“ Because of their activities, the ever busy Onitsha-Owerri road has become a shadow of itself and traffic on the road has become very light. What it means is that many people no longer travel and this is affecting the economy as goods and services are no longer transported from state to state.
“You can also notice that most Anambra people have abandoned their luxury cars and refurbished their old dilapidated ones as they consider it safer to drive old cars. But things are gradually returning to normal.”
Another incident happened at a village called Umuojimaka in Akwa during a burial when rival gunmen started shooting and following the pandemonium, the family took back the corpse to the mortuary. On Thursday, the Parish Priest of St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Akwa, Ihiala, Rev Fr.Paul Onwughalu at another burial of a 58 year- old Onitsha – based businessman, Mr. Pauline Mbanugo who was also killed by gunmen in the state, recalled the earlier incident.
He said: “Our people were traumatized on that day. We were ready to start the burial Mass and suddenly shooting started from many angles. People ran in different directions and the corpse had to be hurriedly returned to the mortuary.
“We thank God that the burial of Paulinus took place without any hitch, which is an indication that things are returning to normal and we pray that it will continue to be like that so that Anambra State will continue to enjoy peace.”
Last week, another member of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Nelson Achukwu was beheaded barely one month after the member representing Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s constituency in the House of Assembly, Okechukwu Okoye was also beheaded by gunmen suspected to be the gang led by Double Lion.
Achukwu, a lawyer with physical disability, represented Nnewi South constituency between 1999 and 2003. He was kidnapped from his home in Ukpor, Nnewi South local government area on June 9, 2022 and his headless body was found by his relatives between the boundary of Uke and Nkpor in Idemili North local government area of the state.
His decomposing body had since been buried by his family and the surprising thing was that the late lawmaker was still killed after a ransom of N15 million was paid and in spite of his physically challenged condition. The beheading was also traced to Double Lion and his group.
However, for the first time in many months, a whole week had passed in Anambra State without the ugly incident of kidnapping and beheading..