THE past week witnessed a breakdown of the security arrangements in Imo State. The state police command headquarters and the correctional facility were brazenly attacked by gunmen who brought the state’s security architecture to its knees. In a media chat later in the week, the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Muhammad Dingyadi, openly admitted that the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) was overpowered by the gunmen because they came fully prepared and in formidable numbers. This was despite the fact that the Department of State Services (DSS) reportedly gave the police command security alerts which the authorities in the state in their wisdom or lack of it chose to ignore.
It is disturbing that the attacks occurred in the same axis of the state without any resistance. The axis is reputed to be the second most fortified in the state because of the presence of key governmental institutions, yet it was breached with brazen impunity, and all that the Minister of Police Affairs could offer by way of an explanation was that the gunmen who perpetrated the attacks were more prepared than the police. Certainly then, there must be something wrong with the way situations are assessed by the concerned authorities in the country. During the ghastly attacks in Imo in which over 1800 prisoners were set free with very grave consequences for national security, there were no significant efforts to repel the gunmen. It is pretty obvious that Imo State has deteriorated very badly. It is in fact in a state of chaos.
Despite the gravity of the attacks, the state governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, would rather point fingers at some unnamed, frustrated and disgruntled politicians. The perpetrators of such infamy need to be identified, apprehended and hauled before the court of law so that they can answer for their crimes, but there is nothing to suggest that the governor has left the realm of politics to approach the security breach as a matter of state integrity. He cannot expect to be taken seriously while making vacuous and empty statements on such a grave issue. If ‘disgruntled politicians’ perpetrated the heinous attacks, what stops the governor from treating them in accordance with the laws of the land? Are these individuals too big to be named, or is Governor Uzodinma merely being flippant?
If care is not taken, Imo State risks replicating the situation in the perennially disturbed states in the North-East. This is unacceptable. We condemn the implied shielding of criminals under the pretext that they are “frustrated and disgruntled politicians.” We recall with indignation, a similar situation in Zamfara State when the state governor, Mr. Bello Matawalle, also declined to expose the perpetrators of banditry and heists. It is also instructive that, contrary to Governor Uzodinma’s submission, the police authorities linked the attacks to the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), an organisation which promptly denied responsibility for them.
To say the least, the attitude of people in leadership positions makes the fight against insecurity difficult, if not impossible, to prosecute. They make false equivalences and perpetrate the most egregious sophistry just to gain political capital and mileage. The political leadership should prioritise loyalty to the Nigerian state. We find its reluctance to do this really disturbing.
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