July 13, 2023

People obey IPOB sit-at-home order to avoid death — Uzodimma



—Denies knowledge of Asari Dokubo ‘men’ presence in Imo
–Seeks appointment with Tinubu for Igbo leaders
—Says he doesn’t have security votes
—Adds: Simon Ekpa’s case should be handled by FG

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja, Abuja

Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, yesterday, said that people in the southeast obey the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, just to avoid being killed.

The governor also denied having knowledge of the presence of the ‘men’ of the former Niger Delta militants, Asari Dokubo operating in Imo State to maintain peace as he (Dokubo) recently claimed.

This is as the governor said that the issue of the self-styled Biafran Prime Minister, Simon Ekpa, who stays in Finland to give stay-at-home orders in the southeast is to be handled by the Federal Government as the issue of foreign affairs is under the exclusive list.

Senator Uzodimma stated the above after he met behind closed doors with President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Imo State Governor, who is Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum whole briefing State House correspondents said that he was at the seat of power to seek appointment with the president on behalf of the region’s leaders.

He said as non-state actors, IPOB has no authority to issue the order but people stay away because of the amount of killing perpetrated in the area.

According to him, The situation in the southeast is not as simple as some people think. There’s no government directive for sit-at-home procedure to either local government directive nor any state nor the zone.

“But the situation is that because of the indiscriminate killing of people and high level of insecurity, our people are so afraid to come out, not only because there’s any sit at home.

“It is perception management that we’re trying to do. So, there is too much fear into the people. Otherwise, how can non-state actors give sit-at-home order and it will be obeyed.

“People are scared. People are afraid because of what they’ve seen in the past. And nobody wants to die. Neither me nor anybody.

“So, that is why the federal government comes in to step up very high security measures to manage the situation. The sense of security will come back to the citizenry and they will be able to go about their businesses.”

Uzodinma affirmed that his visit to the villa centred on the security situation in the country and a follow-up of the decision of the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo, governors of the southeast and the political leaders from the zone to seek an audience with the president.

He explained: “My visit has to do with the security situation in the country. If you recall a few days ago, we had a meeting of the leadership of southeast, political and non-political leaders in conjunction with the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo, and among the resolutions from that meeting was to visit Mr. President to support and intervene in our resolve in addressing the issue insecurities.

“The southeastern part of the country, of course, you are aware, has been bedevilled with this high level of security ranging from banditry, kidnapping activities of unknown gunmen.

“To the extent that most of the states, five states in the southeastern part of the country a lot of resources have been expended, community efforts have been invested, yet the problems seem not to be abetting.

“So, the leadership in the zone met and agreed that working with the forum of governors from the southeast, we come to Mr President to formally request his intervention and additional support from the federal government to ensure that there is peace in the southeastern part of the country.

“The people of the southeast believe in the unity of the country. And that’s an integral part of the Nigerian project also needs serious attention in terms of provision of security for our people to go about their businesses.”

On the impetus for the coming together of the leaders as against the situation under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the governor stated: “Well, this is not the first time we’re coming to he presidential villa.

“But under the current administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu that is barely 60 days old, we’re also coming to renew the request and also draw his attention to some peculiarities in the southeast that will require federal government attention to resolve.”

On the claim by the former Niger Delta militants that his ‘men’ were operating in different parts of the country including Imo State, the governor said he was not aware of anything like that.

He said, “I don’t know whether his men are police officers of the Nigerian army. I don’t know who are Asari Dokubo’s men and so there’s will be no way of me answering this question. Can you please find out for me who are his men? And how do we identify his men.”

On what he’s doing with his security votes, he said, “Security vote I’m not against it, but I don’t operate it in Imo state. Again, you should find out from my parliament, I don’t operate it in Imo State but I still think that governors should be given a headroom, governors should be allowed a window to have funds they can use to manage security issues.”

Fielding questions whether the leaders of Southeast are thinking of diplomatic options to follow up with one Simon Ekpa that stays in Finland to give stay-at-home order in Southeast, he said:

“So you can see again that diplomacy and foreign policy programmes are also on the exclusive list. And we are worried about the level of insecurity in the region and the contributions of some people within and outside the country.

“Federal Government still remains the only platform that can dress both foreign and local content contribution to this problem.