Chief Innocent Okeke, the Labour Party (LP) National Vice Chairman for the South-East, has expressed his deep concern over the escalating violence and killings in Imo State. He called for unity in addressing the crisis and criticized both the Federal and Imo State governments for their passive response to the deteriorating security situation.
His remarks came following the tragic killing of security personnel in Ehime Mbano, Imo State, and he specifically challenged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Governor Hope Uzodinma to set aside party affiliations and collaborate in identifying and bringing the perpetrators of the violence to justice.
Okeke remarked that effective governance hinges on ensuring the safety of both the governed and security agencies. He lamented the descent of Imo State into a state of lawlessness and anarchy, where individuals live in fear for their lives on a daily basis.
He said: “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 in another thirty minutes without nursing the fears of death.”
He asserted that despite the dire circumstances, the Nigerian government and the Imo State government have not taken sufficient proactive measures to prevent further violence and adequately protect citizens. Instead, they have observed passively as lives continue to be lost.
“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 on a daily basis.”
Okeke emphasized that the incident in Ehime was just one among many similar occurrences in Imo State that have not been adequately reported or investigated. He pointed out that there have been no substantial efforts to prevent further incidents.
The LP chieftain raised concerns about the overriding focus on reelection by the government of Imo State while the people are left defenceless. He also highlighted issues of governmental intimidation and harassment against those who propose alternative ideas.
Okeke called on President Tinubu to recognize that issues affecting any part of Nigeria should concern him, as Imo State is part of the territory he governs. He urged Tinubu to transcend party lines and govern for the benefit of all.
“The gospel of reelection is the only thing paramount on the lips of the government of Imo State, while the people are left defenceless.
“The high level of governmental intimidation, harassment and threats to any group or individual who tries to come up with alternative ideas is another issue of concern today.
“As the president of Nigeria, Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu should understand that issues affecting any segment of Nigeria should be his concern.
“Imo State is part of the territory he governs, and he should be concerned about the lives, properties, and wellbeing of the people of Imo State.
“President Tinubu should rise above party affiliations and offer governance to everyone.
Imo State, according to Okeke, has tragically become a place where violence and death have become the norm. The sound of firearms has become a daily occurrence, causing significant stress and health concerns for residents of all ages.
“The state of Imo has been tragically reduced to a graveyard, where the populace no longer fears the sight of blood and death as it flows and litters the streets on a daily basis.
“The sounds of firearms of varying calibres have engulfed the state, causing tensions that pose serious health concerns to both adolescents and the elderly.
“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.
He called on the government of Imo State to identify the groups responsible for the violence and engage them in dialogue. Okeke expressed concern about the state’s inability to identify these “unknown gunmen” and questioned the effectiveness of its intelligence agencies.
“Instead, all we hear is the term ‘unknown gunmen’, leaving one to question the effectiveness of the state’s intelligence departments.
Okeke stressed the urgent need for the government to take decisive action to restore peace and security in Imo State, which has seen unprecedented levels of insecurity and death. He called for the return of displaced residents and the attraction of investors to the state.
“It is imperative that the government of Imo State identifies 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.
“This level of insecurity and death is unprecedented in the history of Imo State, and it is high time that the government takes decisive action to restore peace and security to the state.”
In conclusion, Okeke appealed for openness to criticism and ideas, and he condemned reprisal attacks by soldiers on defenceless citizens. He urged restraint and empathy among security forces and called on the federal government to take a vested interest in restoring peace to Imo State and the broader South East region, as this would positively impact the Nigerian economy’s overall recovery.
“It was imperative that the inhabitants who have been forced to flee the state for the past four years be allowed to return, and that investors once again find Imo State to be an attractive destination for investment, and the state returns to its normal life.”
“The government must equally embrace criticism and ideas from people.
“The habit of accusing opposition parties in Imo as being responsible for insecurity in the state is pedestrian and must be discontinued.
“I condemn the reprisal attack by soldiers on defenceless citizens of Ehime Mbano. 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.
“I implore the federal government to take a vested interest in the current security situation in Imo State and the broader South East region, as the restoration of peace in this region will undoubtedly contribute significantly to the overall recovery of the Nigerian economy,” he added.