January 1, 2023

‘It’s taboo in Igboland’ — Ihube residents condemn kidnapping of female army officer in Abia

gunmen in Imo

Imo ESN Sit-at-home


By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI

Varying reactions have continued to trail the kidnapping of a female military officer, the invasion of Ihube community and the burning of everything in sight, by military personnel.

The soldiers, Vanguard gathered, stormed the community on learning that one of their own and a newly commissioned officer, Lieutenant P. P. Johnson, was kidnapped, maltreated, and dehumanized in the area and her nude picture and video making the rounds in the social media.

A villager, who simply identified himself as Emmanuel, for security reasons, condemned the kidnapping of the military officer.

His words: “The act of kidnapping the female military officer, from her maternal home, is a taboo in Igboland. If there is any place a grandchild is respected, protected and honoured, it is in his or her maternal home. So, why was Ihube community desecrated by this condemnable act?

“This young military officer is from Ovim, Abia State, and a relation of the former Chief of Army Staff, General O. A. Ihejirika, and did the perpetrators of this dastardly act, expect Ihejirika or any serving army officer to be happy?

“She recently graduated from the Nigerian Defence Academy and was only on a visit to her grandmother, but was kidnapped at Mbaraukwa, her maternal home. This is sad enough.

“I also understand that messages were sent out to all the Presidents General, to immediately locate and return her, to avoid a military confrontation in the Ihube community.”

Another villager, who simply identified herself as Ngozi, equally condemned the kidnap act, but quickly added that “two wrongs do not make a right”.

Ngozi said: “Why should anybody humiliate a grandchild in her maternal home? What did the criminals gain by posting her nude picture and video on social media? Did the criminals expect that the military will clap for them, for taking the war into their backyard?

“The only thing that I am not too happy about, is that innocent people have suffered for no fault of theirs. I am not sure of the number of people who lost their lives in the military operation, but the damage is colossal.”

Reacting also, an Ihube son and member of Imo State Elders Advisory Council, Dr. Romanus S. Umeh, in an open appeal to Governor Hope Uzodimma, lamented that his heart bleeds.

His words: “Sir, my heart and indeed those of my relations of goodwill, bleed because of what is happening at Ihube.

“Sir, much as there could be justification for government’s action, if we realize that Ihube is located at strategic position, where her neighbours from Isuochi, Lokpa, Leru and Nneato, all in Abia State, and centred along Enugu/Port Harcourt express way, the happening may create the impression to the uninitiated that government is unfair to the people, especially where houses, filling stations, cars etc, (have been) burnt by soldiers.

“Again, innocent people are being killed and the entire people have left their place. Sir, my worries are: Our late brother, Engr. Ebere Udeagu, former Deputy Governor of Imo State, has been scheduled for burial January 6, 2023. How can this be done, when all Ihubians are in the bush?

“Many of our brothers and sisters served the Federal and Imo State (governments), at the level of Army Generals, Commissioners, Directors General and professionals. Now that the army is burning down houses, if they burn down those of the people in the above-mentioned categories, will posterity give credit to the government?

“Ihube has great men and women, who have been affected by the present state of fear. As the Chief Security Officer of the state, kindly consider the plight of the majority of our good people and use your executive powers as the Governor of the State, to at least, make the people return home and stop the burning of houses and the killing of innocent people.”

Continuing, Dr. Umeh said that Ihube people are by nature, very good people, but quickly added that “evil elements (have) infiltrated the place and are causing havoc”.

He called for the establishment of an army cantonment or a police post at Ihube, to checkmate the attackers, since, according to him, “Ihube has become a strategic security concern”.

Vanguard recalls that the female military officer has since been rescued and receiving medical treatment from an undisclosed hospital.