Wonders shall never end! The bags of rice you have joyfully bought from the mill for your family household this Christmas season may actually have been stolen rice!
Indications to this end emerged on the 3rd day of December, 2019, when a young man in his mid 30s simply identified as Iruka was caught with three bags of stolen paddy rice at Oso Edda in Edda North Development Center of Afikpo South Local Government Area by the members of the vigilante group set up by the coordinator, Hon. Pius Enyim Okorie, to assist security agencies in ensuring security of lives and property in the area.
Mr. Iruka, a native of Amaogbuu Akaeze who allegedly specialized in stealing harvested bags of rice in Igboro Ekpe Rice Farm at the common boundary between Oso Edda in Afikpo South Local Government Area and the people of Akaeze in Ivo Local Government Area was said to have ran short of luck as he was caught in the act that day while his accomplices fled.
Speaking with the Coordinator in a phone interview, he confirmed the incident, saying the vigilante group was formed following incessant theft of farm produce at that farm settlement which would have led to communal crisis between the farmers from Akaeze and Oso Edda .
According to him, the suspect confessed to have come on the mission with a motorcycle which he kept far from the farm and uses it to convey the stolen rice to his desired destination for sale.
The Coordinator assured that he shall not relent to ensure security of lives and property in the area, and disclosed plans to set up either Police station or check point there as a way of checkmating the continued theft of farm produce in the area.
“It is true. The theft have actually been happening there, which would have led to crisis among farmers in the area owing mutual suspicion of the real perpetrators of the theft. So after harvesting rice the owners park it at the farm settlement there awaiting the vehicle that would convey them to the mill or warehouse. Before they come back, the rice had disappeared.
“This incident, you know, is peculiar because in the area, we have two local government areas there. My people had been accusing Ivo people of stealing their produce while Ivo people also accuse my people of stealing their produce which was why we set the vigilante group to help us curb the problem to fish out the perpetrators and avoid communal crisis in the area.
“That night, that incident took place around after 1 a.m, they were many, busy carrying the rice when we got there. When we caught him, he mentioned the other people and another group led by one Sunday John all from Ivo Local Government Area.
According to him, “Iruka is the leader of the gang as they shared themselves to attack same time from different directions of the farm. The night we caught Iruka towards the farm main road as he was going to drop the already stolen bag of rice, another group was inside operating . When we came back we found out extra 9 bags of rice was stolen that same night despite our efforts.
“When we caught the group leader Iruka, that was the 3rd time he was coming into the farm that night and he said they always move from their hideout with three big bags on the motorcycle each time they attack. They use to come with bikes and keep it at the main road, if not interrupted by morning about 40 bags of rice will be missing. It is a very serious problem.
“As it stands, we shall continue working there with the vigilante group throughout the harvesting season, to reduce the cases of theft there to the best of our ability. Discussions are already on with stakeholders to see how to set up Police station or checkpoint there. Even if is this Safer High Way people, we will rent apartment there for them as a way of helping them to help us.
“This is because for years now, souls have been condemned here following incessant crisis, I do not want anything that will lead to lost of human life here again”, the coordinator stated.
Meanwhile, as at the time of filing this report, the culprit has already been handed over to the police in Akaeze, Ivo Local Government Area for proper investigations