While Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has repeatedly blamed his political opponents for the insecurity in the state, some stakeholders have asked him to sincerely search his conscience for any possible complicity in the unending malaise, Ejiofor Alike writes
Imo State, Governor Hope Uzodimma, last week blamed opposition politicians for the spate of insecurity in the state. The governor also raised the alarm that members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have become targets of attacks by politicians and their collaborators, who sponsor criminalities and killings.
Uzodimma who spoke at the wedding of Chinedu, son of business mogul and politician, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, at the Cathedral Church of Transfiguration of Our Lord (CATOL), Owerri, the state capital, said “wicked politicians have decided to hold Imo State captive, killing innocent ones and burning public and private property of Imo citizens, all in the name of politics.”
To buttress his point that wicked and mindless politicians are behind the killings in Imo, the governor wondered why all the victims – Ward Chairman, Ward Secretary and Woman Leader – in the incident which took place at Ogberuru in Orlu last week, were of the APC.
He said: “I have crosschecked since the inception of this mindless bloodletting in Orlu, Orsu and other communities in the zone, not one Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) person has died, neither were their houses burnt nor attacked. It is clear to me therefore that these killings are the handiwork of politicians who are after the APC members.”
The governor warned that the killings must stop now as his government is neither weak nor lacking in the zeal to deal with the perpetrators except that his administration has zero tolerance for bloodletting. He wondered how burning of police stations, local government headquarters and the killing of innocent and hapless citizens could help to advance the course or aspiration of any politician.
Since Uzodimma became governor in January 2020, Imo State has become the hotbed of insecurity in the South-east with news of killings, arson and abductions dominating the media. He has consistently reiterated that the resurgence of insecurity in the state is the handiwork of the opposition elements who are threatened by the success recorded by his administration.
Recently, he noted that “soon the government will identify and separate those using the name of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to perpetuate crime from those who are actual criminals, kidnappers and armed robbers.”
He noted that while citizens have the right to criticise government objectively, taking life and burn down government institutions and individual houses in the name of opposition or in any guise is not the way to go.
For close observers of affairs in the state, that the governor is pointing fingers at members of the opposition PDP as sponsors of insecurity in the state is not strange, especially with the 2023 general election fast approaching.
At the peak of insecurity in the state in 2021, Uzodimma had blamed insecurity in the state on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). After being tackled by the group, he shifted the blame to former governor of the state and the senator representing Imo West senatorial district, Rochas Okorocha.
But Okorocha and some stakeholders, including separatist agitators accused the governor of being behind the insecurity in the state, describing him as a usurper who simply used his connections to assume power in the state. They also accused him of attempts to silent those who are not happy with his style of governance.
The matter came to a head last January when the people of the state were kept in suspense following a failed promise to use the occasion of the sixth edition of the Imo stakeholders’ forum to name those allegedly behind the spate of insecurity in the state. But when the day came, the governor did not name anyone.
The State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Declan Emelumba had disclosed in a statement that the governor would use the occasion of the sixth edition of the Imo stakeholders’ forum to name those allegedly behind the spate of insecurity in the state.
“The governor will use the occasion of the sixth edition of the Imo stakeholders’ forum to name those who are sponsors and financiers of insecurity in the state. The government is in possession of crack evidence of the involvement of those responsible for the carnage. Apart from the public being availed of those individuals, the governor will update Imo people on his performance in the last two years,” Emelumba had said.
But Uzodimma failed to name anyone. Four days later, he said he would allow the security agencies to finish their investigation on the sponsors of insecurity. He however, called on Okorocha to allow him to rule Imo State in peace.
He said: “Let us allow the security agencies to finish their investigation and reveal the names of the sponsors of insecurity and they will be arrested. The difference between former Governor Okorocha and others who have ruled this state was that he wants to be the governor when he is out of office. Okorocha is the only governor that wants to take this state alone for himself. He should allow me to rule this state as the governor. I am his elder brother and I deserve some respect from him. We cannot allow one person to hold this state hostage.”
After the governor failed to name the sponsors and financiers of violence in the state as threatened, Okorocha accused him of knowing the killers of a former presidential adviser, Hon. Ahmed Gulak, who was in the state for a meeting, some traditional rulers and over 140 innocent people during the unknown gunmen’s reign.
Okorocha, who appealed to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba to investigate his claims, also challenged the governor to explain why he failed to publicly mention the names of sponsors of banditry, kidnapping, killings and other forms of criminality in the state.
“Through Hopism Security Forces (HSF) and Ebubeagu, he allegedly master-minded several killings in the state,” Okorocha had reportedly alleged.
According to him, “Mr. Governor should tell the world, who killed Gulak? Who killed the traditional rulers? Who killed the 140 people? Who beheaded those beheaded and displayed their heads as if they had won a trophy?”
Also following the failed abduction of the former governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) in the 2019 general election, Mr. Uche Nwosu, during the outing service in honour of his late mother, Jemaimah Nwosu, at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Eziama-Obaire in Nkwerre Council Area, on December 26, 2021, IPOB had mocked the governor, alleging that those who attempted to abduct Nwosu were the masterminds of insecurity and other crises rocking the state.
The secessionist group said the state government and others would have fingered it and its arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), if the truth about who the ‘abductors’ were had eluded the public.
“The incident has also further confirmed the complicity of Uzodimma and the APC in the insecurity going on in Imo State and South-east region. But for the dexterity and fighting spirit of Nwosu’s family and associates, Uzodimma, his co-travellers and some infamous media houses would have, as usual, pointed accusing fingers at ESN, IPOB and unknown gunmen. But God Almighty, Chukwu Okike Abiama, has exposed them this time around.
“We will not be surprised if Uzodimma fingered Nwosu and his in-law, Okorocha as the sponsors of IPOB, ESN, unknown gunmen and insecurity in Imo State. We know his antics and such options may not be out of the table,” the group reportedly said.
Eminent traditional and religious leaders in the South-east had raised that alarm that most people now perceive Imo State as a ‘war zone’ known for violence.
Speaking under the auspices of the South-east Council of Traditional Rulers and the Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops on Peace and Conflict Resolution, they decried the deteriorating security situation in Imo State.
The statement titled: “Imo politicians must de-escalate hostilities to save Imo State,” was jointly signed by the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, and the Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia, Chibuzo Opoko.
They blamed the failing law and order situation in the state on selfish politics and urged all the political leaders in any form of contestation to cease and desist from actions that would further escalate or compound the tensions in the land. They proposed urgent meetings with Uzodimma, his predecessors, all former governorship candidates in Imo as well as the elder statesmen in the state with a view to proffering a solution to the problems.
While Uzodimma is still blaming the opposition for the violence in the state, his opponents are asking him to sincerely search his conscience for any possible complicity in the unending malaise, which has turned the state to a killing field.