A team of suspected Army personnel, on Saturday, stormed the Sanitation Court sitting in Umuahia, freeing a female offender and more than 50 others.
The report has it that a young lady whose identity could not be immediately ascertained was apprehended by operatives of the state Ministry of Environment and taken to the sanitation sitting at the premises of the ministry behind Umuahia Central Stadium.
On arrival, she was said to be rascally and noisy, which led to an altercation between her and an official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
According to the source, the lady made a call and “a man, suspected to be a contractor and from Ikwuano LGA arrived in his car with another NSCDC official and some fully armed personnel in military uniforms suspected to be soldiers.”
“Though they didn’t fire any gunshot, they could have fired. They scattered all our record books and documents, except the one with the Presiding Magistrate, Her Worship Ndidi Alozie,” the source said.
“They took away the female offender and released all other offenders before the court and flogged anyone within their reach with military belts, while court officials, ministry staff and other security personnel in the courtroom took to their heels,” the source said.
The contractor was quoted while enraged as saying, “the sanitation in Abia is nonsense. People are hungry and they are talking about sanitation. Abia State Government is making a mockery of the exercise.”
The source further disclosed that this is not the first time this is happening, stating that the sanitation court might be relocated inside the state High Court premises.
Speaking later at Umuahia North Council premises with newsmen who monitored the exercise, the Commissioner, Sam Wogu, condemned the incident.
Barr Wogu who spoke through his Deputy Director, Environmental Health and Pollution Control, Mrs Ihuaku Maduka confirmed that the alleged soldiers who came to rescue their female friend from the sanitation court sitting at Abia State ministry of environment harassed people with guns, flogged people with a cane which caused other defaulters to escape.
While describing the sabotage of government efforts as unfortunate, the Commissioner also revealed that the action of the military officers was not the first experience.
Meanwhile, Abians have continued to condemn the time frame of the exercise, which the present administration shifted from 6 – 10 am to 9 – 11 am, describing the new time frame that gives people the opportunity to loiter about.
A ‘Mood Report’ by the ministry staff obtained by The PUNCH read, “This is to inform you that on November 26, 2022, during the Environmental Clean-up. One man from Ikwuano (alleged to be a contractor who is known to be moving with military personnel) came to the sanitation Court in the Ministry of Environment, where the Sanitation Mobile Court sits during the sanitation exercise with three Hilux carrying well-armed military personnel.
“They beat up a prison official, harassed court officials and everyone with their guns.
“They released all the defaulters and chased everyone away from the court before leaving with a lady who was arrested by the civil defence enforcement team that was brought to the sanitation court for prosecution.”