ENSWAMA wrecks havoc in Enugu slum: Brutalizes residents with policemen aiding
Some residents in Enugu state have branded the Enugu State Waste Management Authority, (ENSWAMA), as a terrorist organization, going by outrageous activities the agency has continued to unleash on them.
Sometimes in 2015, an enforcement team of the sanitation agency caught 11 years old boy at Abakpa area of the state capital for dropping refuse at a designated dump site.
They boy was asked to present his sanitation levy receipt which he did not have. He was taken away in their vehicle and on the road to their office, he was allegedly thrown out from their moving vehicle and the boy died.
That was just one of the episodes among many which residents of the state complain and make their feet buckle each time they see or hear about ENSWAMA.
Recently, 24-years-old, Ekpo Ubong Chukwunonso of Ugbo Lawrence, Independence layout Enugu, who is a final year student of Electrical Engineering, Institute of Management and Technology, (IMT) Enugu, was beaten to unconsciousness state and meant to die in his slum residence.
According to victim, Nonso, as is popularly called, “I was in my house on that 18thAugust 2017 sleeping when there was banging on my door, the noise I heard outside woke me up and before I could open the curtain of my door, about five of them were there and I went back wondering what was going on but they pushed the door from outside and I heard ‘where is the Teargas’. I became afraid of Teargas because I have asthma. So I opened the door and I asked what the matter was?
“The next thing I saw was a blow on my face and they dragged me on my leg, started hitting me, dragged me outside my house and were beating me. There was one with a long stick that hit me on my face and there was one with a mortar, he hit me on my neck and on my waist. They hit me until I fell down and I didn’t know what happened again. Where I got myself was in the Niger Foundation hospital. I saw one policeman holding gun, standing with them when they were beating me.
“When they were beating me and I feel down, I asked them to help me with my inhaler because I was breathing fast but they were busy beating me. That was the more reason why I lost consciousness.”
A neighbor, Ijeoma Igegbe said: “I went out that day and on my way coming back, I learnt ENSWMA people came here the first time so I decided to drop the drugs I bought for my Mom. So when I opened my door and dropped my handbag, just bolted the door from inside and came out from another entrance, I went down to give my mother the drugs because she was in my brother’s house.
“On my way going down I started hearing noises, people carrying guns and running up and down and the whole place was as if there was war. Those ENSWAMA people came with SARS policemen, they were scattered everywhere. So I hid in one place. I stayed long there and after some time I started hearing noises—they’ve killed Nonso oh, they’ve killed Nonso oh, Nonso is dead, Nonso is dead!!. So I rushed up but somebody else had helped him to the main road to take him to the hospital.
“So when I came up I said let me close the door, when I came, I saw my door open, I rushed inside and saw that they had scattered my house, they pulled the ceiling to check if there was money there, they carried the mattress up, the jewelry box that I sell was on the table, they pulled it down with ones in the nylon, they took the valuable ones, the costly ones, the wrist watches, they took the N8, 000. 00 on top of the table there, they searched my handbag and collected about N2, 800. 00 and other valuables that I can’t even remember now.
“I don’t know the actual person that took them because I don’t know the person that entered my room. When I now came out they said they have taken Chinonso to hospital because he was almost dead. He was on the floor lifeless, he has already fainted, he couldn’t even breathe, fume was on his mouth and his inner eyes had already gone inside before my neighbour, Mr. Ben, took him to hospital.”
When asked why the ENSWAMA personnel were in the area, Ijeoma said “We don’t know why they came because there was no demand notice, had it been that they came here with demand notice, it will be a different thing but this one they did not bring anything. This is pure intimidation and assault. They felt that we are poor and helpless, that was exactly what happened.”
On his own account, one of the leaders in the cluster community, Engr. Ben Itumor said “It was in the afternoon when I came back to see my family at home, because I went to work. I came inside I did not see anybody; I heard a noise and people started running and I started hearing of doors being broken. I was peeping through the door I saw policemen running up and down with some boys, I started wondering what the problem was and the next I heard on my door was a smash. They brook the net, the door and they came inside my house and I challenged them with my cutlass and they ran outside. I dropped my cutlass when I saw about 3 policemen standing with them with guns.
“I dropped my cutlass and said to policeman, so you are here; you followed criminals to break my house by 12 noon. I said you came with armed robbers to break my house. I said to the policeman, you can never go free from this. Immediately I was talking with them I saw Nonso lying down, vomiting blood in his mouth, his nose and in his ear. His eyes had turned white, I shouted for people to come and help me take him to hospital. I told the police that they will not go out and that they must take Nonso to hospital and they started running and a policeman was telling the ENSWAMA guy that you people should go and carry that boy that the boy wants to die.
“As they were saying that, they all ran away. I pursued them till we got to the main road and luckily I saw the DSS people coming and asked the DSS people to block the fleeing policemen and the ENSWAMA people but they moved with their three buses. We arrested one bus and out of annoyance small boys used stones to break the bus and the driver escaped. Even the SARS people ran away and lied to the DSS people that it was the residents that called them to help the that ENSWAMA people were attacking them and they ran away.”
Some of the residents of Ugbo Lawrence who were taken away by the agency said they were summarily tried at the ENSWAMA mobile court and driven straighten to the Enugu prison where they stayed for 24 hours before other residents mobilized for a protest to the government house where Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi intervened before they were released from prison custody.
After four attempts to hear from the agency, the Managing Director on ENSWAMA, Mrs. Amaka Anajemba paraded four of the young men together with a uninformed Man who said he was a policeman who allegedly participated in raid of Ugbo Lawrence.
On why the policemen supervised such an abuse, the Enugu state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu said it would be difficult for any policeman to agree to have participated in such an exercise “because you know such a thing is an illegal job.”
Amarizu said that if any of the affected victims could identify any of the police officer that participated in the exercise, the police will take it up for investigation and do justice to the matter.
All attempts to get the Department of State Security, (DSS), report on the matter proved abortive because of the special working style of the agency, but ENSWAMA officials accepted that they have been meeting with the DSS on the matter and accused some DSS staff of having interest on the matter “because one of the girls is their girlfriends.”
Ugbo Lawrence community is a stone throw from the DSS office in Enugu which made the operatives to intervene when the incident took place.