The Labour Party has condemned the killing of security agents in Imo State by gunmen and the subsequent burning of houses and businesses in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area by soldiers.
The party, in a statement on Saturday, by the National Vice Chairman (South East), Chief Innocent Okeke, described Governor Hope Uzodimma as clueless in the face of the killings and destructions going on in the state.
The PUNCH reported that on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, some gunmen who were yet-to-be-identified, attacked and killed five security agents attached to the Joint Task Force, Operation Search and Flush and subsequently burnt their two patrol vehicles along a road at Obowo community in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of the state.
Later, soldiers of the Nigerian Army allegedly returned to the community and burned down markets, houses, and businesses in what appeared a reprisal attack on the community.
Reacting to both attacks, the LP condemned the rampant killings that are occurring daily in Imo state without any form of restraint noting that the recent incident in Ehime Mbano was the climax of it all.
According to the party, “the purpose of governance becomes futile if the lives of both the governed and the security agencies are not ensured as the case in Imo state. The state has regrettably descended into a state of lawlessness and total anarchy where individuals are uncertain about their safety for another thirty minutes without nursing the fears of death.
“Despite these distressing circumstances, the Nigerian government and the Imo State government have failed to take proactive measures to forestall further occurrences and adequately protect its citizens. They passively observe as lives are being destroyed daily.
“On Tuesday, 19th September, in Ehime Mbano, security officers who were recruited by the federal government of Nigeria were killed, humiliated, and their bodies burnt beyond recognition. These officers had families who depended on them for daily survival, and it was unjust that they had to answer national calls with their lives. Unfortunately, this is one of many incidents in Imo state that have been underreported and uninvestigated, and no significant measures are being put in place to forestall further occurrence.”
The party regretted that instead of finding lasting solutions to the problems, the “gospel of re-election is the only thing paramount on the lips of the government of Imo state, while the people are left defenceless.”
It added, “The high level of governmental intimidations, harassment, and threats to any group or individual who tries to come up with alternative ideas is another issue of concern today.
“It is beyond comprehension that the government of Imo State has been unable to identify the group responsible for these atrocities over the years and find a way to engage them positively. Instead, all we hear is the term “unknown gunmen,” leaving one to question the effectiveness of the state’s intelligence departments.
“The government of Imo State must identify the source of these unknown gunmen within their territory, what their agitations are, and how the government can engage them in dialogue.
“Over 14 Local Government Areas out of the 27 in Imo State have been overrun by insecurity and killings, with death becoming a normal way of life. Unfortunately, the government of Imo State seems more interested in reelection than finding solutions to this dire situation.”
The party, however, condemned the reprisal attack by soldiers on defenceless citizens of Ehime Mbano, describing it as horrendous.
“On issues such as this, intelligence should be gathered, and the security can’t get credible intelligence from the people by burning their shops and inflicting pain on them. Even in the heat of provocation, our gallant officers must exercise restraint and control their emotions. Theirs is to protect lives and property, not the reverse.”
LP asked the federal government to take a special interest in the current security situation in Imo State and the broader South East region, adding that the restoration of peace in this region would undoubtedly contribute significantly to the overall recovery of the Nigerian economy.