By Henr Ekpe
This past Easter made it one year anniversary dare devil Hoodlums stormed Owerri, the capital of Imo State and wreaked havoc.
They invading forces targeted the State Police Headquarter located at Shell Camp, attacked the Prison Yard that shared same fence with Police, and left carnage and destruction behind.
Apart from torching vehicles and buildings, Prisoners were released, including those serving and awaiting trial.
However, it was said that no life was lost, both from the security operatives and the invaders after the turmoil.
Hours after the incident Imo Government pointed accusing fingers at Sepratist Groups and later at politicians, dubbed “Opposition”.
Since then the peaceful nature which Imo State was known for has been shattered.
At the beginning of the Insecurity saga, even the State Capital, Owerri, was deserted because of occasional invasion by these Criminal Elements now called “Unknown Gunmen”.
However, the Government and the Security Agencies have since “recovered” Owerri, as peace and quietness have been restored in the former restless town.
Meanwhile, the “Unknown Gunmen” have changed pattern, as they moved to the “Soft spots” in the less Urban Areas of the State.
Now mainly under severe insecurity, is Orlu Zone, unfortunately the Area the sitting Governor, Senator Uzodinma comes from.
And the major “war zone” in Orlu Zone is Orsu LGA, where able bodied men have all abandoned their homes, leaving behind only women, the aged and sick.
No day passes without one incident in that hot place. A few months ago, Security operatives recorded a big fit when they stormed one of the hide-outs of the criminals in Orsu LGA. What they found there was despicable, barbaric and incredible.
Videos showed bunkers where human Bodies were thrown in like dogs, left to decay. Mangled legs and hands were seen hung and roasted.
After that successful outing by the Security Agents , most Imo citizens heaved sigh of relief believing that the “Heart” of the Dare Devil Criminals tormenting Imo State has been decimated, with their domain demolished.
But, it is not yet uhuru as the cannibals continued their ungodly acts. This time, they set the House of Imo State Attorney General, Bar C C Akaolisa on fire. That was after they had torched the ancestral residence of Ohanaze President-General, destroying records and rare Artifacts belonging to the urbane Gentleman, Prof Obiozo.
It may have been on account of these recent attacks that the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma was quoted to have made the Freudian slip of asking, why it was only those in APC in Imo State that are the target of these Gunmen.
That comment by the Governor attracted a lot of reactions, which were mostly in the negative, as many Imo citizens wondered how a sitting Governor and the State Security Officer could make such a statement that sounded provocative and inciting.
They argued that as the Chief Executive Officer of Imo State, the Governor should be for all Imo people, and not only for APC.
However, it must be stated here that Insecurity is not good for Imo State, and negatively affects the development of the State. Therefore, it is not what should be left alone for the ruling Government, because a flying bullet knows no political party, Religion or Local Government.
Indeed, it is unfortunate that while security operatives look towards another angle as the source of the Mayhem, the Government rather sees politicians, otherwise called “Opposition” as those heating the Imo polity through Insecurity.
Many had asked why “Opposition” would rejoice because Imo State is boiling?
What would “Opposition” benefit if Imo State is restless?
One, if Imo State is under chaos, “Opposition” will be affected too. And they cannot carry out a coup to replace the Government, since it must be through the ballot box.
Therefore, if Imo State is in a bedlam, who will come out to vote, much more knowing whom to vote for between the proverbial “Opposition” and Government?
In other words the “Opposition” will only pray for a peaceful environment for a free and fair election to take place in Imo State.
Even as Orsu LGA is in turmoil, has the “Opposition” and Government Allies not deserted the Area? Therefore, a war zone has no regard for any person, not even the political party you belong to.
The issue of Insecurity in Imo State is not what should be settled with partisan posturing and political mind set.
If Government has information on those causing the problem in the State, they should be fished out, prosecuted and jailed. That will serve as a deterrent to others.
The Government has the wherewithal to rein in the perpetrators, provided there is sincerity to curb the rampage, without political connotations.
In tackling the matter, the State Government must apply a holistic approach by involving all Imo citizens, both those in politics and non politicians.
There should be a genuine Stakeholders meeting that will cut across all party lines, where the issue of insecurity must be debated no holds barred to find a final end to it.
The Clergy, Traditional Rulers, Youths, Traders, Civil Servants, NGOs, Market Women, Artisans, etc must be gathered for a Town Hall meeting to find a solution to the carnage in Imo State.
This is not a PDP, APC, APGA, ACN, or political party matter. All must be involved. Enough of passing buck and blame game.
And the parley should commence from the communities where Traditional Rulers and PGs should take charge. And will climax at the State level. Government Agents should not boss the meetings, so that the people can speak freely.
It must start from the grass roots because every criminal has parents, siblings and kinsmen. Each community in Imo State knows their stubborn children, and even what they do for a living.
No matter how long this method or strategy may last, it will give more result than the frequent finger pointing at politicians and perceived opponents which has remained wild allegations against political Foes and “Opposition” without results.
Even the attempt the Governor made to openly name some of the criminals could not work because it is against the Law of the land.
It is only the police that is backed by Law to investigate matters and take necessary actions.
And Imo Government should engage the teeming roaming Imo Youths in meaningful ventures by creating jobs, which is the most important sector now begging for attention in Imo polity.
It is said that an idle mind is a devil’s work shop. Keep the youths busy and the crime rate will reduce.
It is true that no society can be eradicated of criminal elements, but it could be curbed if Imo Government thinks out of the Box, and see Youth unemployment as a priority that must be tackled.
No society records good success in a volatile situation and there is no substitute to peace, which powers development and progress.
It is now left for Imo Government and Security Agents to do the needful. Imo has bled enough.