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Still on Imo and south east insecurity

By Editorial Board
31 December 2021   |   3:36 am
The resort to cannibalism by daredevil kidnappers in an Imo State community has introduced a dangerous and frightening dimension to the criminality ravaging parts of the South-East.

Nigeria Police

The resort to cannibalism by daredevil kidnappers in an Imo State community has introduced a dangerous and frightening dimension to the criminality ravaging parts of the South-East. The development is condemnable in its entirety. Government should rise up to the challenge. The degenerate state of insecurity in Imo State, of recent, has become another source of headache to the authorities that are battling a war-like situation across Nigeria.

For Imo State and indeed the entire South-East that have traditionally been a haven of peace, the sudden turn of events, for the worse, has confounded both the authorities and the citizens. That a section of the state has literally been overrun by kidnappers and sundry criminal gangs operating as unknown gunmen raises the question as to what the government is doing to stop the menace. With an epicenter in Orsu in Orlu zone, the kidnapping and murderous spree has extended to Okigwe and Aboh Mbaise communities, among others. This is unacceptable, to say the least.

According to reports, Orsu community which could be likened to a war zone since March this year has been deserted and abandoned to the control of the kidnappers who had sacked the indigenes. In the last one month, for instance, no fewer than seven monarchs have been abducted with one killed in parts of Imo State. The victims include Damian Nwaigwe, the traditional ruler of Mbutu Ancient Kingdom in Aboh Mbaise Local Council and Edwin Azike, the traditional ruler of Njaba council area. While Nwaigwe was later released, Azike was gruesomely murdered and his body dumped at the market square.

The traditional ruler of Achi Mbieri in Mbaitoli Local Council of the state, Eze Henry Madumere, had earlier been kidnapped on November 19, while heading to a public function. The monarch, who is the father of a former deputy governor of the state, Eze Madumere, was released after six days in the kidnappers’ den. That was preceded by an attack on the monarchs who were having stakeholders meeting at Njaba council headquarters, Nnenasa, in which two were killed, while others sustained injuries.

In all of these, the state Governor, Hope Uzodimma, and security agencies had kept reassuring the traditional rulers and residents that the insecurity in the state would be arrested. But despite the assurances, the situation keeps getting worse.

The Chairman, Imo Traditional Institution/Community Policing, Eze Emmanuel Okeke, expressed shock at the unbecoming situation. He could not understand why traditional rulers who he noted are custodians of culture should become targets of kidnap and murder. He described the incidences of abduction and killing of monarchs in the state as abomination.

“This is abominable in Igbo culture. I don’t know why traditional rulers are being hunted like this. We are not politicians. We are only custodians of the culture of our people. We are highly saddened by this situation,” Eze Okeke lamented.

The incidences of abduction and killing of royal fathers is seen not only as an abomination, it portrays a stark failure of security, if not that of the state. Such incidents are plausible only where a government so-called is not in control but only pretending to be so. No Nigerian is impressed by the regular lamentations of government and its officials whenever heinous crime is committed. What will impress Nigerians is the arrest and successful prosecution of the culprits such that citizens can sleep with their two eyes closed; and not subjected to daily sleepless and anxious nights.

Security forces performed well when, in a joint operation, they raided a hideout in Orsu Local Council and border community, Uli in Ihiala Local Council, Anambra and arrested 30 suspects while Eze Acho Ndukwe was rescued. One would expect that reprieve would come the way of monarchs and residents. But it is hardly encouraging that little has since been heard about the suspects. Who are they? What are their motives and who are their sponsors? Why is their identity seemingly shrouded in mystery? Is it to avoid a compromise of investigation or is there a cover up somewhere? Who is shielding who? Briefing newsmen in Owerri, the state Director of Department of State Security, Wilcox Idaminabo, said they were stunned by what they saw in the camp of the kidnappers.

“We saw a lot of dead bodies. What they do is kidnap and kill some of them…We discovered a lot of decapitated bodies. We noticed that people still practice cannibalism here. We saw human flesh being roasted. It was an eyesore.”

The spate of abductions and killings certainly require extra security measures before the situation gets out of control. Nigerians believe, and there is ample evidence to support them, that the police as presently constituted cannot contain the insecurity in the land. Unbundling the force into state and community police is a way forward to secure remote communities where the federal police are not effective. This in fact should be the aim of emerging regional security outfits such as the Amotekun security network in the South-West., which the other zones are gearing up to replicate. It is regrettable that instead of giving this need expedited approval and implementation; the authorities are dragging feet over it. The issue is being politicised while people are being killed daily. The country is fast turning to that where life could be snuffed out swiftly and in a very violent manner.

The authorities should stop playing the game of death with Nigerians whose lives now have no meaning, as they could be killed, kidnapped or raped anytime without any official reaction. Investors, both local and foreign, are scared. As a former military Head of State, now President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, General Buhari should be sufficiently motivated to fully resolve the country’s insecurity. Enough is enough of the killings and let the people have peace.