ON Wednesday this week, the Imo State government bemoaned the recent beheading of the Sole Administrator of Ideato North Local Council of the state, Chris Ohizu, describing it as benumbing and callous. In a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, the government called on security agents to apprehend the killers without delay. It described as unfortunate, the fact that critics who were quick to deplore insecurity in the state had not condemned cold-blooded killings in the past and were not saying anything about the latest killing. Nevertheless, it condemned “this cold-blooded murder on a Sunday” and appealed “to the perpetrators of the dastardly act and their sponsors to resist the temptation of going ahead with this bloodletting, which has plunged the state into the current state of uncertainty.”
According to the commissioner, “the government of Imo State is saddened by the brutal and cruel murder on January 22. Those previously murdered in cold blood include Orlu APC local council woman leader, Jenny Rachael Okonkwo (Iron Lady); Nze Chidi Ejiaka; Barr. Darlington Odume; Nze Nwachukwu Igboayaka; Mrs. Helen Nnakwe; Collins Okey Agah, Chukwudi Dimagwu; Eddy Ofuefule; APC chieftains from Orlu, and many others as well as Emma Mazi, former IMC chairman of Oguta local council.” The government charged security agencies to leave no stone unturned in finding those behind the killings and prosecuting them. It also assured that it would continue to collaborate with security agencies to ensure the protection of the citizens.
To say the least, the situation in the South-East has become virtually anarchic. On a daily basis, human life is taken in the most gruesome fashion across the region, putting the long-suffering and traumatised populace on edge. The list of horrors is unending: the decapitation of a military couple on the way to their engagement ceremony, the kidnapping and torture of a newly recruited Army lieutenant; wanton shedding of blood in markets, homes and streets, with gory pictures of victims widely circulated on social media. During the last Yuletide, indigenes of the zone who came home to celebrate with their kith and kin were cut down by outlaws.
Challenged but unbowed by the Nigerian state, members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) have made the South-East, one of Nigeria’s most beautiful environments, a war zone. They kidnap, rape and rob defenceless citizens, calling attention to their own brutality by pronouncing that it is happening “live and direct.” Pretending to be saviours and emancipators of the populace from state persecution and terrorism by herders from distant lands, they make life impossible for their own people. They close businesses and shut down livelihoods at will, decreeing a holiday every Monday and on whatever day suits their fancy. There are heart-rending videos of desperate victims begging for their lives to be spared by the merchants of death masquerading as freedom fighters. It is a fact that the entire zone has become ungovernable under the rage of non-state actors. Every effort should be made to douse the tension across the zone, including the granting of bail to the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, while the government continues its case against him in the court of law. Human lives are involved in this matter!
It is a fact that while the various governments concerned still consider the South-East as part of the Nigerian federation, the place has been ungovernable for a long time. The ubiquitous “Unknown Gunmen” and non-state actors have effectively taken over the space, with the stage governments and the Federal Government only acknowledging whatever new killings are recorded or instructions given to the hapless people therein. Killings are so pervasive that indigenes outside the place no longer venture to go near it. No sane person would contemplate going there for any kind of activity. The governors ought to be disturbed by the current turn of things within their space; they should come together and work out a viable strategy that will engender governance and peace in the zone and restore a reasonable degree of normalcy. The governors working together as a group should elicit positive reaction, cooperation and understanding from President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government, as nobody profits from the apparent anarchy that has enveloped the zone.
We call on stakeholders to show critical concern and not allow the South-East people to continue suffering needlessly. They must work out a purposive and purposeful solution to the crisis.