The wave of violence by unknown gunmen against Imo citizens has escalated a few days to the general elections.
Despite efforts of security agencies, killings by unknown gunmen have surged in many parts of the State.
MEZIESBLOG reports that Imo residents live in fear of being attacked in their homes or on the streets, especially in Ideato North, Arondizuogu, Okigwe, among other places. Majority of the attacks frequently target innocent people, politicians, security services, government officials, and facilities.
In Orsu LGA, thousands of terrified natives have abandoned their communities, leaving behind their cosy homes and productive farmlands.
Only recently, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) released video evidence of the third attack by unidentified gunmen on the rural home of its spokesperson, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere on February 7, 2023.
This third attack, according to CUPP, occurred less than a month after the second attack on January 14, which left four people dead, including his uncle. The gunmen also destroyed property worth more than one billion naira, including homes and more than thirty-two vehicles.
The organisation claimed that the Imo State Governor, led by Hope Uzodimma, and the Commissioner of Police in Imo State knew more about the attack than they were ready to admit.
It made the allegation in a press statement signed by Mr. Mark Adebayo, the coalition’s second spokesperson, made available to reporters. He said that the footage allowed them to identify individuals, including members of the Ebubeagu Network, Imo State Police Command, and at least one officer from the Force Intelligence and Investigation Bureau.
So, they requested that the Inspector General of Police look into the incident in order to solve the puzzle of the unknown gunmen in Imo State.
Ikenga and the PDP’s voter education and campaign materials were allegedly taken by the Imo CP, with the directive of the state’s ruling party, and individuals in possession of the documents were held for six days and subjected to torture, according to Mr. Mark Adebayo, the coalition’s second spokesperson.
However, he claimed that a lawyer, who went to arrange for the bail of the individuals, was also detained and released after three days.
They also urged the IGP to forbid Governor Hope Uzodimma from visiting Ideato on election day, February 25.
Due to the actions of Governor Hope Uzodimma and his party, CUPP urged local and international election observers, as well as foreign delegations to take Ideato into consideration as a potential hotspot for election-related violence.
There have been two divergent accounts of the murders. While some claim that the assassinations were carried out by unknown gunmen, some allege that the governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, and his administration knew more about the dreadful occurrence.
Just last month in the Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State, gunmen also murdered the president of the Ejemekwuru Customary Court.
Nnaemeka Ugboma, the judge, was killed by gunmen who entered on a motorcycle and opened fire as he presided over a court proceeding.
“They (the shooters) entered the court, pulled him outside, shot him, and then took off. Many in court started to leave as his corpse was still there,” according to an unidentified source.
Inquiries also turned up evidence of the same terror in places like Oguta, Njaba, Okporo Orlu, Ihube Okigwe, among others.
According to information from media sources, there is no police presence in Arondizuogu, nor are there any patrols, checkpoints, or stations between Akokwa and Umulolo junction, Okigwe.
“We the youths have tried since two years ago, arming our neighbourhood vigilantes but no support from the police yet”, according to a resident who begged anonymity out of fear of victimisation.
“Even after submitting many reports, neither the former PPRO nor the CP has responded to any of them verbally or in any other way. And things are getting worse every day.
“How can a sitting LG chairman be taken hostage and killed like common poultry in my town? It’s depressing. We beg the police to assist the residents of Arondizuogu. These people are kidnapping people and stealing cars virtually every day,” he further lamented.
Chijioke Udensi, another local, claimed that robbery attacks were becoming common occurrence everywhere, including Owerri, where he resides, next to Akwakuma Female Secondary School and Kings Park Hotel.
Recall that in Oguta Local Government Area, gunmen also destroyed the Oguta High Court, located within the council’s headquarters.
The attack resulted in the burning of the Magistrate’s Court Registry, Appeal Court record office, file room, Secretary to the High Court Judge’s office, Office of the High Court bailiff, and the High Court Judge’s chamber.
Meanwhile, the Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Hon Declan Emelumba, has dismissed all the allegations against the State government.
He said: “Ugochinyere is queer and perverted in every sense of the word, resulting in a manifest, lifelong cantankerous conduct that has defined his infantile political adventure for long.”
He added that, “naturally, Ikenga picks enemies the way magnet picks pins and therefore should look inward to know where his problem emanated.”
He accused the PDP candidate of violating an agreement which he allegedly reached with unknown gunmen.
The Imo State Government blamed the opposition party for the security breaches, noting that it (PDP) was still bitter that it lost the 2019 governorship election in the State.
He said the PDP had been a sour loser bent on rocking the boat, after it was sacked by the Supreme Court in 2020.
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