A major crisis was averted, weekend, in Eziowelle community, Idemili North LGA of Anambra State after a group of men who claimed to be Covid-19 Task Force team invaded a funeral ceremony and started extorting money from the bereaved family.
However, the police in Anambra State reacted swiftly by ordering immediate clampdown on the illegal team vowing to prosecute anybody involved in extortion, harassment or intimidation of people under illegal Covid-19 task force.
The illegal task force team, which claimed they were authorized by administrators of the community chased away sympathizers and stopped mourners from burying their mother, a 65-year- old woman who died after a protracted illness.
The group who were accompanied by armed policemen reportedly succeeded in extorting about N90,000 from relations of the dead woman before angry youths in the community confronted them resulting in a free for all.
It was gathered that elders of the community quickly intervened and stopped what could have resulted into a bloodbath.
Chairman of the aggrieved youths, Chief Ugochukwu Asikwo told newsmen that they were pushed to the wall because of the illegal activities of administrators of the community whom he alleged connived with the illegal task force and police to effort money from the bereaved family.
According to him, “they claimed they were after security and development levies but there is no such thing in our community because we have since rejected administrators of our community because of the atrocities they have been committing”.
Another leader in the community, Chief Anthony Ojemba Chigbo alleged that the rejected administrators in the town have been using the illegal task force team to extort huge sums of money from members of the community under one guise or another and called on both the police and government to intervene without delay.
An elder in the community, Chief Emeka Molokwu also stated that government gazzette stipulated N1,500 for burial ceremonies but the illegal team collects more with threats, harassment and intimidation.
A statement from the police spokesman in Anambra State, SP Haruna Mohammed on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, John Abang stated that the clampdown is against all persons involved in incessant extortions, harassment, intimidation, assault and wearing of masks claiming to be enforcing Covid-19 measures.
It further stated that the hoodlums wear reflective jackets and operate in shuttle buses/Keke with stickers bearing Covid-19 Task Force and said that no such task force was constituted to operate in the state.