By Dr Ugoji Egbujo
One day I watched a thug slap the daughter of a former governor. The thugs said they were in her home for assets recovery. They were sent by the state government. The state government did not bother to tell us what it did to its agent who who slapped a woman in a broad daylight.
Another day we saw thugs, with policemen behind them, jump into a mall and take away chairs. The thugs said the chairs belonged to Imo state government. And that the state government had licensed them to do assets recovery. The governor hasn’t told us why he is chasing rats after telling that we were invaded by elephants.
On a daily basis, thugs, masquerading as members of a certain task force on assets recovery, roam the state, invade and violate the homes and premises of the main political opponents of the state governor. The new state government had cheerfully announced that it would use citizens to recover stolen assets. I had thought it was a joke. Because it’s simply barbarous. But the state government appears determined to do things the way only motor park louts would. And the state government tell us it came to rebuild Imo.
The EFCC has a file on the past Imo government and its financial misdeeds. The EFCC has sealed some properties belonging to the former Imo governor. So no one can complain that anyone is being shielded. The Imo state government must be told that Imo people will do nothing with old chairs and tables and cars . It should help EFCC trace looted billions. These thugs it has paid to run around the state looking for spoons and kitchen utensils cannot recover more than what he would spend on them. And they will ultimately leave his hand with some blood stains.
The Imo state government has commissioned a forensic audit of the state’s accounts. It has announced it is probing into the affairs of the previous government of Rochas Okorocha. Let the Gov Ihedioha probe Rochas Okorocha and his government thoroughly and hand over findings to his Attorney General, the police and the EFCC. All those who may have stolen from Imo state must be brought to book.
But state sponsored thuggery is criminal.
The Imo state government knows lawful and peaceful ways to recover stolen assets. It knows that the law doesn’t permit thugs regardless of what uniforms he issues to them to roam around in. Only courts can seize and confiscate assets of people suspected of embezzlement of public funds and corruption
The method chosen by Ihedioha is lawless . And it’s a recipe for real disaster.
Imo must not become Rivers. But not even in Rivers state have we seen a sitting governor send thugs and policemen to rummage through the houses of a former governor and his family.
A few days ago the Secretary to Imo State government gathered thugs from all local governments in the state. They drove in buses and congregated at the Imo airport. At the airport the state’s secretary to government addressed them. He said they had come to fight Rochas Okorocha. And that the sort of fight he had in mind was not the type that could be postponed. They were at the airport to prevent him from coming into the state. The SSG wanted Ihedioha’s political opponent banished.
They waited for hours. Rochas Okorocha didnt arrive. He told the thugs that numbered over a thousand to retire to Imo conference center to refresh and wait. He said he suspected Rochas could have, out of fear , used an alternative airport. But he swore they would find him even if he was hiding in his village. And that they would chase him out of the state.
This was an address made by the SSG in daylight. Imo must not become another Rivers. But even in Rivers state this sort of abomination is unheard of. Imagine Governor Wike mobilizing militants to the Port Harcourt airport to stop Rotimi Amaechi from coming home.
But where are the elders?
The police have watched these videos of incitement to violence against a serving senator and kept quiet. The DSS knows that what is brewing in Imo threatens national security but the DSS is quiet too.
I once watched a certain Osun politician incite the youths to violence against Bola Ige. The elders did nothing. Ige was killed. And people gathered to shed crocodile tears.
One must then wonder whether it would take only a huge body bag count to jerk the security agencies to life against merchants of political terror.
The presidency cannot sit astride and watch a once peaceful state become a hotbed of political violence. The nation’s security forces are already stretched thin. We are spending too much containing violence across the nation. So one would have thought that we would have learnt early prevention.
Violence begets violence. And it didnt take so long. Another video has gone viral. The chairman of Ihedioha’s assets recovery team was seen in a gutter being beaten by thugs. The state government has claimed that Rochas Okorocha hired thugs to inflict violence on the states asset recovery team that went to search a property that belongs to Rochas Okorocha. The state government wants Rochas arrested. Rochas spokesman has countered. He said that the impunity of Ihedioha’s thugs was resisted by aggrieved citizens.
But we all saw it coming. We cannot deny it. We all knew that at some point those whom fingers were being poked into their eyes would react, and violently too.
The thugs mobilized by the SSG to the airport went after Rochas Okorocha as instructed. When they arrived his premises at Spibat they were ambushed by a rival set of thugs perhaps hired by the senator to protect him and his assets.
My worry is not the big men. If the crises becomes really ugly one or two of them may die. The rest will settle their differences quickly, and resume attending the weddings of their daughters in turns.
My worry is the fate of the young men – the thugs. In a single explosion of violence across the state, many will die needlessly. And once political violence takes root in the state, it will consume the lives of poor young men, on a daily basis, for a long time.
Imo cannot become another Rivers.
I dont know how the police watched the video where a secretary to a state government was openly inciting thugs and the public to violence against a serving senator of a rival party and failed to arrest and prosecute him.
Imo now needs nine stitches. If they don’t come in time, the consequences would be dire.
This is the time to cry for Imo.