…Says 50 arrested over Owerri Police, Prison attacks
…Alleges some people outside Southeast behind Imo attacks
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State on Friday, charged the security agencies to publish names of those sponsoring banditry and terrorism in the country so as to shame such persons.
The Governor also said that about 50 persons have been arrested in connection with the recent attacks of the Police headquarters and Correctional Services in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
Speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja, the governor revealed that some of those arrested in connection with the Owerri arson are neither from Imo State nor Southeastern geo-political zone.
He said that his meeting with the President centred more on security matters.
Recall that many divisional police offices in Imo State have been razed by unknown gunmen in recent times.
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But the Imo State governor alleged that those behind the dastardly act were funded by disgruntled politicians, adding that it was a high time the names of the sponsors were made available to the press.
He described the meeting with the President as successful as he had the opportunity to discuss all the security challenges facing the state.
Asked what she discussed with the President, he said, “Of course, there is nothing new, you must have heard of the various banditry activities in Imo State and how even at a time a few weeks ago, the Police Headquarters was attacked and a correctional services facility was also attacked, inmates released and since that time, there have been a couple of breaches here and there.
“Thank God that the federal government came to our aid and beefed up security. The situation in Imo State is now relatively calm. Every other support I asked for the President also approved and granted.”
On the of support he was asking from the government, he responded, “To increase manpower and also give the security agencies logistic support to be able to do their job.,
Fielding question on the recent revelation from the Close Circuit Television, CCTV, that those behind the recent attacks in the state are not from Imo State, he said that not only that some of them are not from the state, investigation revealed that they are not from southeast.
According to him, “It is not only CCTV, some of those arrested by security agencies, some of them are not from Imo State or the Southeast, it was a combination of those within the state and those from outside the state.”
On the number of arrest made so far over the incident, he said, “As at the last count, we arrested almost 40 to 50 people who also made useful statements and confessed to the crime.
“I continue to tell you that this issue of banditry is something that we must all rise up as people to condemn and then support security agencies to be able to provide an enabling environment for people to go about their businesses, without fear of any molestation.
“The job of security of a country cannot be left to security agencies alone. The job requires the citizenry to support security agencies through intelligence gathering, also government at all levels, including traditional leaderships to support government because the bandits stay among us, the criminals live among us and if we are not in position to report them, or report their activities to security agencies, then we are undoing ourselves.
“So I encourage everybody to see this as a collective challenge that all of us must join hands; whether you are from the local government, community level, to state, up to the federal government, we must join hands because we don’t have another country.
“The only country we can beat our chests and call our own is Nigeria and we must work to towards ensuring that the integrity of our country, the security situation in our country, is such that allows people, residents and citizens to go about their businesses without the fear of molestation
“Any problem anywhere, in any part of the country is also a problem everywhere in the country. Today it may be Imo State, you don’t know when it will be your own state. So if we don’t come now and nip this thing in the bud, it means that one day we may not have a country. So let us defend our country, it is very important.”
Also asked how much confidence he has with the new proposed security network by governors in the Southeast, Ebube Agu, Uzodinma said he believes in the Constitution of the country.
He said,” Well, I believe in the rule of law and the Constitution has a procedure and the punishment for every criminal, If confirmed a criminal, is also defined in the established statutes.
“So a criminal is a criminal, once confirmed, but what I don’t agree to is that anybody will want us to discuss and negotiate with confirmed criminals.
“What is important is making sure that the person has been confirmed to be a criminal and through due process, the confirmation came, you must face the law of the land.”
Further asked his opinion on how Nigeria could manage the sectional and ethnic crises and the cessesionist agitations so that they don’t go out of control, the governor said the country would be better staying together than being disintegrated.
“I don’t think that I will support any call for cessation, I want a united, strong Nigeria. Our strength is in our diversity and today, we are supposed to play a leading role in this continent.
“We don’t want to whittle down our strength. Rather, what I advise is that we must appreciate the gift of nature, in our land and support the government. Listen, let me tell you something, this country is blessed by God.
“From 2015 till today, I thought what the problem would be is people saying that there is no job creation, people are not feeding, salaries are not paid, infrastructures are going down, social interventions are not approved by the government.
“These things are there, available, a passmark for the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Now, people are no longer talking about that, rather what they are doing is to sponsor crisis, to the extent that those funding this banditry are politicians, which I challenge and call on security agencies to make their names available to the press because what they want to do is to distract a government that is focused.
“If this government is not doing well, I will be one of those that will declare that the government is not doing well, but a situation where you will live the formal way, ethical way of doing politics, and you are now sponsoring banditry to bring down a government, for Christ’s sake, we should rise up and condemn it, all of us.”
Asked to mention names of those suspected to be sponsoring banditry and terrorism in the country, he said,”This is a security issue, a lot of investigations are going on here and there, preliminary reports are there. People are furthering the investigations. I think I have given you something to go home with. When you go home, think about it and do the homework by yourself.”
Further asked how the President feels about the happenings in Southeast in the 40 minutes meeting, Senator Uzodinma said,”I know the genuine interests of the President for Nigerians, I have had series of discussions and at every given time I have asked for one intervention or the other, it is given to me and it is for the interest of my people.
“But then, for those things to function, we need an enabling environment. That is why the enemies of progress, not deterred by the progress the government is making, are now out to scuttle good governance
“Opposition and politics are about the people. Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Why are people hiring people to kill the people? There is no responsible government that will not want those who voted him or her to power to be happy and this government I have seen is a responsible government.
“This party, APC, is a responsible party. That is why some of us are members of this party and we promised that we would deliver to our people, and I am committed that this government will deliver.
“However, I think we are rising to the occasion. I can tell you that sooner than later, today will become a thing of the past and Nigeria will move forward.”