In Imo, security crisis abates, but its not over
By Tony Opara
Calm seem to have returned in Imo State especially the state capital, Owerri following a security crisis and spate of violent attacks starting from attacks on the state’s correctional centre and later the state Police headquarters.
At the correctional centre, the doors were thrown open and some prisoners took advantage of this and escaped. Some were later found as far as Lagos.
At the Police headquarters, cars were burnt, the police armoury vandalized and scores of policemen injured.
It is instructive that both the Correctional centre and the Police headquarters are both a walking distance to government house.
Indeed, Owerri people also affirmed that they had heard the sounds of gunfire on that fateful day and were afraid, thinking that the infamous Boko Haram or the herdsmen had arrived.
A day after the attack the Governor Hope Uzodimma blamed his political traducers for sponsoring the attacks. He later recanted saying that a CCTV installed near Govt house caught the attackers speaking in the Hausa language.
Before the dust settled, further attacks ensued as unknown gunmen came into the scene. The home of the Governor was burnt by unidentified gunmen later christened unknown gunmen. A London based politician, Ezennaya Don Chiekezie told Difference Newspaper that the violence can be situated in the political race to the Imo government house which threw up Chief Emeka Ihedioha, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps of the Peoples Democratic Party as initial winner. He had not settled into office when out of the blues the nation’s Supreme Court, the highest court in the land held that Hope Uzodimma of the All Progressives People’s Congress APC who came third in the election be sworn in as Governor. Imolites protested but the law took its course and Governor Uzodimma became. The people however preferred to address him as Supreme Court Governor.
The short lived administration of Ihedioha had shown the people how the state would like it. He started clearing up several months of unpaid emoluments owed civil servants and retirees and commencing work on several strategic roads and other infrastructure. The politician further posited that the former Governor now a Senator whose plot to install his son in law Uche Nwosu in his place failed spectacularly may be fingered as part of the problem.
On his part, the Ose Oji Owerri, Charles Opara told the Difference Newspaper that during the political contestation, thugs were procured and armed by political actors and the men who took up arms may be thugs adding that at the end of political contest they could not retrieve the arms which the thugs turned to their use. So the politicians fuelled insecurity by their inability to control thugs employed to deal with political opponents.
When Chief Uzodimma’s residence in his home town was burnt he had to appeal to Abuja to send in the troops to help. It was like the signal Abuja needed to up the ante by bringing in the troops who started an indiscriminate killing of young people.
In the midst of all this chaos, the Nnamdi Kanu’s ESN had emerged to protect Igboland against Fulani herdsmen. In series of broadcasts MNK of IPOB stated that his men will never point guns at fellow Easterners but that they were out to engage herdsmen. Orlu, the home of the Governor became a theatre of violence with ESN operatives burning police stations and in places like Enugu setting ablaze INEC offices. They accused Governor Ugwuanyi of colluding with Abuja to cede grazing rights to the herders. Things were getting out of hand. Governor Uzodimma had through legal means sought to recover properties of the government wrongfully acquired by Senator Rochas Okorocha and his wife. The Court acquired the properties and dared the former Governor to explain how he acquired such government properties and some belonging to political foes and other Innocent bystanders.
In this fray stepped in Alhaji Gulak, an APC operative who came visiting the Governor. He was returning back to base when gunmen killed him by the Obiangwu airport junction. The Governor was fingered but before any investigation commence the killers of the politician were all killed and their vehicles burnt beyond recognition. The question of who killed Gulak has remained unanswered but fingers are pointing in many direction. However, everybody is saying that the APC knows what happened. Muslim youths said they will avenge his death but that would after they find his killers.
The Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Archdiocese Dr Anthony JV Obinna visited the morgue where bodies of Igbo youths killed by soldiers were deposited and branded IPOB operatives. Moved by what he saw he visited the Governor and pleaded with him to withdraw soldiers from the state as according to him, there will nobody to rule if they kill the youths.
Gov Hope Uzodinma of Imo State