The presence of operatives of Anambra Vigilante Group, AVG, who were patrolling the streets to maintain peace in parts of the state on Friday triggered the scare of unknown gunmen in many towns.
Apparently because of an earlier notice by the Simon Ekpa faction of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, that it was the turn of Anambra State for people not to come out of their houses yesterday, the sight of the men of the AVG at Nkpor near Onitsha and other parts of the state, made people to start running when they saw the masked AVG operatives.
The information later spread to many parts of the state, forcing people who were carrying out their businesses to close shops.
Many parents whose children were in schools suddenly rushed to pick them, while vehicle operators abandoned them and found their way home.
Press secretary to Governor Chukwuma Soludo, Mr. Christian Aburime, in a statement, urged members of the public not to panic, assuring that the state was safe.
He said: “Everything that happened was more like a rumour. Nothing actually happened today. At the end of the day when security operatives came out, they discovered that everything was normal.
“People saw some members of the Anambra Vigilante Group who were wearing mask, and who were attending to their broken-down vehicle started panicking and running in Onitsha, while others joined.
“That panic also gave rise to other people running in other parts of the state.
“From the security report that we have, everything was a rumour. Nobody can actually pinpoint and say it was so and so people that came to attack, because they were reacting based on rumour.
“As I speak, the state is calm and peaceful and people are going about their normal businesses in Onitsha, Nnewi, Awka, Ekwulobia and other parts of the state.
“Anambra is safe and remember that Anambra will never obey any sit-at-home order from the non-state actors; not even the one from one Simon Ekpa.
“Governor Soludo and the security forces are on top of the situation. So we assure the residents of the state that there is no need for them to panic.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, in the statement also debunked the gunmen attack ,
His statement read: “The Anambra State Police Command has observed with great dismay, the mischievous act of persons sharing false security alerts/messages, and doctored old videos of security incidents to cause tension/panic in the state. Given this, the police command shall invoke relevant cyber laws on persons found wanting in this regard.
“The confidence reposed on us by Ndi Anambra in the protection of lives and properties shall not be taken for granted. The Police, with other security forces have intensified patrols, improved security dominance and surveillance in the state.”