Imo now known as war zone — Obi of Onitsha, others lament

Obi of Onitsha

Eminent Igbo traditional and religious leaders, on Monday, said most people now perceive Imo state as a ‘war zone’ known for violence.

They blamed the failing law and order situation in the state on selfish politics and urged all the political leaders in any form of contestation to cease and desist from actions that will escalate or compound the tensions in the land.

Jointly led by the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, and the Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia, His Grace Most Revd, Chibuzo Opoko, the group spoke under the aegis of South-East Council of Traditional Rulers and Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops on Peace and Conflict Resolution.

In a statement on Monday night, they proposed urgent meetings with incumbent Governor Hope Uzodinma, his predecessors, all former governorship candidates in Imo as well as the elder statesmen in Imo state with a view to scoping the problem and proffering a solution.

The statement by the joint body reads, “The dramatic and condemnable invasion of a place of worship by officers of the Nigeria Police Force on 26 December 2021 ostensibly to effect the arrest of a former Governorship candidate in Imo State has brought to the public consciousness the long-running troubling state of affairs in the State, which has led to the loss of many lives, hundreds of millions of Naira of property, a deterioration of the environment for business and a debilitating poisoning of public culture and trust.

“Even as we write this statement, a report is breaking of an exchange of gunfire between unknown gunmen and law enforcement officers, which may have left several people dead.

“Imo has become a war zone and the Igbo nation is appalled that those responsible seem unable to gauge the consequences of their conduct.

“The tensions, violence and failing law and order situation has resulted in a significant number of deaths, including those of traditional rulers, a considerable number of missing persons, and the abduction of scores of youth presumably by law enforcement and non-state actors.

“Many attribute this to the prevailing political differences in the State. These arrested and kidnapped young men are said to be held in concentration camp conditions.

“This state of affairs in Imo State blamed largely on a few politicians of the State and their cohorts, constitute an assault on the dignity and well-being of Ndi Imo and the Igbo nation. It is unacceptable and must be brought to a speedy resolution.

“To pursue one’s political interest to the detriment of the interest of the people that one seeks to serve violates the essence of the Igbo way and good leadership.

“As such, we call on all the gladiators, requesting that they note that the ethos of Ndi Igbo is steeped in ‘egbe belu, ugo ebelu’ (live and let’s live). We know what fate is cast on the one that does not allow the other to perch.

“We, as the clergy, traditional rulers and elders of conscience of Alaigbo, under the auspices of the Joint Body of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops on Peace and Conflict Resolution are compelled to intervene.

“First, we urge all the political leaders in contestation and their followers to cease and desist from all actions that will escalate or compound the situation on the ground in the State.

“Next, we ask for an examination of conscience of the actors in Imo State, Abuja, or elsewhere.

“We trust that the Igbo Spirit, which guided our intervention in the run-up to the recent Anambra State governorship election and resulted in peaceful and salutary outcomes, will lead the key antagonists in Imo State politics to collaborate with us to help reconstruct the social order in Imo to greater civility.

“Finally, we propose to immediately commence meetings with the Governor, the past Governors, the former Governorship candidates, and elders of the State to scope the problem and proffer a solution. May peace and good order reign in Imo State.” Vanguard


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