February 25, 2021

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Uzodinma, Ohanaeze differ over military invasion of Orlu

8 min read
Protesting Catholic women ground Owerri over Bishop Chikwe's kidnap 
Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State.

…As Uzodinma explains why he invited military

…It’s another war —IPOB

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Steve Oko

Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has decried the use of force by the military in Orlu  to  tackle  the Eastern Security Network, ESN, even as the Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma,yesterday,  explained why he invited the military to the state.

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President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor on Monday,  expressed dismay  on the use of force, intimidation and violence in the crisis in Orsu in Orlu zone of Imo State, adding that it will amount to national catastrophe.

According to him: “The use of the violent method will lead to a synchronised national crisis and ultimate disintegration of Nigeria and this too must be avoided”.

The Ohanaeze leader who spoke on Monday when his team visited the traditional ruler of Amaifeke in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State, said that those who preached or preferred  military  solution to Nigeria’s problem were equally a threat to Nigeria’s unity as those enemies they were fighting.

He said:  “Nigeria is in a precarious situation and a great caution must be taken by the leadership to avoid events that have the capacity of incrementally aggravating or opening more threats of national crisis.”

He stated that insecurity in the country was real and should be treated as a matter of national emergency.

Obiozor, however, thanked the South-East traditional leaders for their role in maintaining peace in the zone, adding that the Orlu senatorial zone was relatively the most peaceful in the country.

In his reaction, Eze Okeke, who is the chairman of the state Council of Traditional Rulers thanked God that peace  had eventually returned to Orlu.

He said that the recent crisis between the Eastern Security Network, ESN, of Indigenous People of Biafra and the military started from the #EndSARS riots.

The  monarch said: “It is surprising to people that this crisis is happening in Orsu in Orlu zone. It should have taken place in the bush instead of the town. We don’t want war but peace.”

Why I invited military to Orlu—Uzodinma

Explaining why he invited the military, Governor Hope Uzodinma  yesterday, said the military came to Orlu as the situation at hand was beyond the capacity of the local arrangement.

Governor Uzodinma, who stated this after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said it was the responsibility of government to protect lives.

Speaking with State House Correspondents after meeting with the President, the Imo State governor explained that his decision to invite the military was to douse the uprising in Orlu district, adding that his action was precautionary especially with the experience and the destructions that followed the #EndSARS protests.

He said that the situation in Orlu region  of the state had gone beyond what could be handled locally, hence his invitation to the military.

According to him, “On the  issue of bringing the military to Imo State,you would recall during the #EndSARS protests that a lot of properties were damaged in Imo State, police stations were burnt down, soldiers were killed and their rifles removed from them.

“And immediately after the #EndSARS, we thought it was over but issues of kidnapping began, where you know, a Catholic Bishop was kidnapped who was killed. And these militants came  out and begin to  shoot. We’ve lost lives, market women were killed, old women were  raped in Orlu area of Imo State  and they  visited this serious terror on the citizenry.

“And  I came here (presidential villa), pleaded with Mr. President for his support and he sent additional support by sending in more police. The military  also came in and that is where we are.

“It was on  my  invitation that the military came. And I did that because I know the situation was beyond the local arrangement. We needed help  and the help was given to us.

“And as I speak to you, the situation has come down to normal. People are now going about their businesses  and those caught will soon be charged to  court. And all those military  riffles from the army, the police, AK 47, and so on, were recovered by the people that came.

“We are a government. It is our responsibility to protect lives and we have the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police. We had security challenges and we invited them to go to work.”

Governor Uzodinma has been  under serious attack  that he brought the military to crush the people he was supposed to protect, unlike some of his governor colleagues who are  negotiating with bandits to solve their security problems.

But he denied the insinuation,  saying that he used the security personnel he invited to restore peace and normalcy.

“I don’t know what you mean. I told you that our initial intelligence and the  efforts to control the sporadic shootings in Orlu that led   many  to death, innocent women in the market being killed by a group of people that we were not able to identify. Preliminary intelligence reviewed where they were in a bush. Our local police and local military who went there and confronted them were  repelled.

“So, we discovered that the people had serious fire power. And that, of course, Nigeria is a federation, Imo State is a federating unit and all over the world, you have provincial police, you have federal police. So, there was a need for me to report the situation and that I did and we were supported to deal with the situation.

Proherbarium

“It is not about crushing anybody and those that came didn’t do any crushing. Those that came through their intelligence  identified where these people were and I can tell you, all the people  were arrested, all the rifles recovered are intact. The people are under interrogation, not even one soldier or one of those militants died in the process.

READ ALSO: Umahi: We’re working on more governors to join APC ― Uzodinma

“I must commend DCP Abba Kyari for a brilliant job he did. So, let anybody politicize it. But I have a responsibility to protect the lives of my people.”

On his meeting with the President, he said he informed Buhari about the progress on the effort to tackle insecurity.

“I informed Mr. President that we  were already  making progress. And of course, you know, the President is a very peaceful man.

“The federal government maybe negotiating with the Boko Haram but God knows that if I have the opportunity to see any man who is taking lives, I will confront the person head-on. That is why we are government.”

No personal issues with Okorocha—Uzodinma

Governor Uzodinma also dismissed allegations that he has a personal score to settle with his predecessor, Rochas Okorocha and  denied  there was an assassination attempt on the former governor.

“Who will assassinate him? I don’t know about any attempt  to assassinate Okorocha. What  I know  is that I have no personal issues with Okorocha.

“You will recall that before I became the governor, the Ihedioha’s administration set up a judicial panel of inquiry to look into acquisitions and allegations of lands, converting government lands to personal property and then removing private lands from individuals and giving to other individuals.

“The judicial panel of inquiry  chaired by a judge  met and they concluded the job and a white paper has since been raised. You know institutions and agencies  that are involved with implementation are doing their job.

“And the only thing I know is that few  days ago, the  former governor  went with his thugs to one of the properties sealed by government. You people saw it, it was was live. He went there with thugs himself physically, wounded the policemen  there, wounded the Civil Defense Civil people, the Civil Defense officer is  currently   in the hospital and then broke in .

“Of course, you must have heard him saying that he is richer than government and that he is above the law. I am not directly involved. It is a position taken by government. There is a difference between governor and government.

“The government of Imo State sealed a property. And I think that if there is anything anybody considered that is not right, the person should go to court to address the issue and not to take laws into their hands.

“I remember that under Ihedioha, there was a recovery  committee chaired by  one Jasper Ndubaku. When they tried to visit Okorocha’s house, they were beaten to a stupor. And the same man who did that  is now also doing the same thing and almost killed the man who did it during his time.

“So, I don’t want to go into that matter because government is  a serious  business and I’m very serious. I don’t even have enough time to run the  affairs of the state.

“But people should know  the difference between being a governor and the government decisions and policies.

“And you  know, we took oath to protect the rule of law, to protect our laws and we shouldn’t be part of any arrangement to violate our laws”, he said.

It’s another war —IPOB

In his reaction to the military  raid , the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu said that the Orlu military raid marked the beginning of the second Nigeria/Biafra war and vowed to mobilise the people in defense of their ancestral land “no matter the consequences”.

He said that besides state-sponsored persecutions and brazen infuriating marginalisation and exclusion against Biafrans, killer herdsmen and terrorists have continued to raid communities in the region unchallenged by the security agencies.

” Herdsmen will attack us, rape our women, destroy our farms,  kill our farmers and nobody will arrest them but when we try to defend ourselves, government will come after us rolling out the tanks and using their helicopter and gun boats”, he fumed.

Kanu explained that the incessant unprovoked genocidal attacks by herdsmen and the docility of the Nigerian authorities gave rise to the formation of the Eastern Security Network, ESN, to protect the hapless Biafran locals against terror.

But he regretted that instead of going after the perpetrators of the heinous crimes against innocent citizens, the Nigerian State  rather chose to declare war against  a mere vigilante volunteer group.

” If defending our ancestral land against conquest by Fulani Janjaweed invaders will take me to the Hague, I am ready to go to the Hague”, Kanu thundered.

” The world has the indicting report by the UN Reportuer against Nigeria but they have not done anything. Do we have to wait until we are all killed before we defend ourselves?”

Kanu expressed shock that the world had helplessly watched the Nigerian State use brute force against mere peaceful agitators while on the other hand, dialoguing with and facilitating amnesty and payment of ransom to bandits and terrorists who have not shown any remorse or sign of ceasation to their killing spree.

According to him, world leaders ought to have demanded probe of Nigerian leaders including some northern governors and Islamic clerics over their romance with bandits.

Vanguardngr.com

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