Again, Uzodimma vows to crush IPOB mercenaries in Imo
By Our Reporter
Imo state governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, over the weekend, reiterated his administration’s resolve to use any means necessary to, according to him, crush “rogue elements and some unrepentant political enemies” trying to undermine security of lives and property in the state.
Uzodimma, who made the declaration in his address to Imo state stakeholders on Saturday, said his administration was determined to tackle disturbing security challenges and some bizarre happenings in the state. He identified rising wave of kidnapping and criminalities as well as the recent activities of Eastern Security Network (ESN) operatives in Orlu area which culminated in a bloody clash with security operatives as top of his priority.
He said: “The recent kidnap of the Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri, Rt. Rev. Moses Chikwe, and the burning of a police station in Aboh Mbaise, a few days ago, among other crimes, were part of the challenges we have faced. Even as we were grappling with those issues, some hoodlums and mercenaries went and took over Orlu in the name of protecting the people from invading herdsmen.”
“Before we knew what was happening, innocent citizens and even security operatives were killed. Women, among them grandmothers were raped. Indeed, anarchy loomed and we had to act fast as a government. We had to secure the area with additional security drawn from the military.
Uzodimma, however, blamed those he called “mischief makers and unrepentant political merchants and alarmists” for the controversy the military crackdown on ESN operatives generated in recent weeks. He argued that they twisted the story of Orlu military intervention upside-down.
“It smacks of sheer mischief for anyone to claim that what happened in Orlu was a military invasion. The military is in Orlu to protect our people from blood-thirsty mercenaries who were killing, maiming and raping them”, he clarified.
The governor further claimed that IPOB hired mercenaries to terrorise residents of Orlu in the guise of chasing armed Fulani herdsmen. He also dismissed IPOB’s claims that it was agitating for Biafra, insisting that the Igbo nation was not at war with Nigeria.
“These militants who terrorised Orlu for weeks and months ago, most of them are not Igbos. The evidence emerged when some of them were arrested. They have made useful confessions and we now know that they were imported from outside the South East to come and turn Imo state into a theatre of war under the guise of IPOB or Eastern Security Network though working with IPOB members.
“The truth is that these are mercenaries imported into Imo state to create the impression that another Biafra war has started from Imo state. The politicians behind this plot know themselves and they will not be hidden for too long.
“I want the good people of Imo state to know that what these politicians are desperate to achieve is to pitch Imo people against the federal government. They want the federal government to believe that another Biafra war has started from Imo state. Thank God that this callous plot has failed because the federal government knows better,” he added.
He further declared his administration’s determination to win the war against its enemies. “Let me make this very clear, my administration will use all the powers at our behest to protect our people against any form of violent harassment by any armed group, be it mercenaries, ESN or IPOB. The military in Orlu is strictly keeping to their rules of engagement. No innocent resident or visitor is being molested. It is only the guilty that is afraid. Criminals being sponsored by political enemies of the state will continue to be afraid. Orlu is calm. Take it from me. There is no plan to wage war against Ndigbo.”
On the Biafra struggle, Uzodimma said: “The civil war ended many years ago. Igbos are not at war with anyone and they do not desire another war. What Igbos want is justice, equity and a level playing ground for all. These we can achieve through constructive engagements, not through violence or war. Make no mistakes about it, the military is in Orlu to flush out criminals and mercenaries from the area. And that is exactly what they are doing.”