By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI.
The proliferation of lethal weapons appears to taken a new dimension in Imo State, as Governor Rochas Okorocha’s Imo Civil Guards, ICG, now carry pump action rifles.
Vanguard recalls that before this development, the Imo Security Network, ISN, and Imo Community Watch, ICW, which are the two other security outfits put together by Okorocha, were seen at different fora with pump action rifles.
Although it was not clear at press time if the status of the personnel or law establishing the outfit has changed, but some operatives of ICG were spotted at a social event involving their boss, Mr. Donatus Ejifugha, carrying pump action rifles.
The presence of the armed ICG personnel elicited uncomplimentary remarks, even as doubts were expressed about their proficiency in bearing arms.
When contacted for the stand of Imo State Police Command on the issue, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Andrew Enwerem, a deputy superintendent of police, DSP, said they have no power to bear arms.
“The Imo Security Network, Imo Community Watch and Imo Civil Guard, are security outfits established by Governor Rochas Okorocha. They are not authorized to carry firearms”, the PPRO said.
According to Mr. Enwerem, the Command has not only made this position known to the security outfits, but also made arrests in the past.
“We disarm and arrest them whenever and wherever we see them with firearms. None of them, including their boss, is above the laws of the land. We will continue to arrest them on sight”, Enwerem said.
The PPRO also said that since the Command was “making serious efforts to mop up unauthorized firearms in the state, any attempt by anybody or group to scuttle the plan would be stoutly resisted”.