By Ori Martins
The facts are clear. It is no longer hidden. Yes and indeed. The military bears its fangs!
Last week’s military invasion of Umuokwu village, Aborshi Autonomous Community, Izombe in Oguta LGA of Imo State is a confirmation that the Igbo nation, particularly, the Eastern Heartland, is in grievous danger. The matter at hand is, according to a published report; “over twenty houses of different shapes and sizes were reported to be on fire at Umuokwu village, Aborshi Autonomous Community, Izombe in Oguta LGA. They were on fire arising from a crisis that spiked off between some youths of the area and soldiers.
“Sadly and most unfortunately is that the houses that were burnt and looted mostly belong to the innocent people who were neither part of the problem nor involved in whatever that led to the carnage”.
If the above revelation aches, then the following account can be heart tumbling. Check it out: “There was an issue between two factions of the boys involved in oil deals at the community resulting in one of the factions inviting the military against the other faction. The unconfirmed report intoned that the military upon arrival at the scene allegedly ordered the boys from the opposition faction to lie down and allegedly began torturing them. Suddenly, one of the boys undergoing the military torture got up and started running in a bid to escape from the manhandling resulting in one of the soldiers shooting at him and he died instantly”.
The source added; “Consequently, the youths of the area got enraged on hearing about the death of the young man and temper rose . Meanwhile, the soldiers were reported to have abandoned the dead guy and fled to the house of the traditional ruler, HRH Eze P. Muforo. The Youths of the area mobilized in their numbers and went to the Eze’s house where they confronted the soldiers and in the course of the melee, two soldiers were reportedly killed and their riffles taken away by the boys while some soldiers were said to have narrowly escaped unhurt even as a military van was set ablaze.
In return, soldiers regrouped, stormed Izombe, razing and burning down houses as the residents of the community fled. Again, after the incident in the morning, the military returned to Izombe in the evening apparently to carry out another round of reprisal attack but this time Maj. Gen. Kalu Egwuagu (Rtd), an indigene of the area was said to have intervened and stopped the soldiers from carrying out further attacks on the community”.
We can gleam from the above account that there was a lack of tact from the soldiers in carrying out their duties. It can be said that the soldiers took the law into their hands. What they ought to have done would have been to arrest the alleged culprits and hand them over to the police for prosecution. This does not in any way mean that they youths behaved accordingly. It is not in the interest of Izombe, Imo State or Nigeria for the country’s soldiers to be slaughtered like a Christmas fowl! In this regard, the soldiers acted ultra vires just as the youths never comported themselves as expected. In all of this, the soldiers stand indicted for firing the first salvo.
It may interest you to note that this is not the first time the military or other security forces have carried out such a dastard act. Recall vividly that in 2019 that the combined team of DSS, police and the army stormed a venue where an alleged pro Biafra group was having meeting and fired at them, killing more than 30. In 2017, during the Operation Python Dance implementation, the soldiers were said to have exterminated Igbo wards in Aba, Umuahia and Port Harcourt. It was on account of the forgoing that IPOB ordered a sit –at –home directive in memory of the September 17 killings particularly in Afara, Umuahia. And since this year, the soldiers have expired so many lives in the Orlu area of Imo State.
The Izombe killings and destruction is one incident too many.
Meanwhile, what is more shocking is the way and manner Governor Hope Uzodimma treated the entire episode. He was in Abuja when the ugly news filtered through. It took him about three more days before touching down to base. And he eventually visited Izombe it was a carnival of sorts. An event, by its rude nature that was supposed to be solemn, was made a red carpet reception.
Uzodimma went to Izombe like a governor campaigning for his re-election. His convoy was packed with colour and funfair. While in Izombe, the governor who ordinarily was expected to be sober and invoking the solemnity of the occasion, insulted the psyche of the innocent persons whose houses were burnt as he praised the soldiers for their heroism and heroic feats! He blamed the youths of the area who he labeled as bandits for killing two solders but never saw anything wrong on how the soldiers descended heavily on defenseless villagers.
This is another blunder from Uzodimma who has compared himself with Ben Johnson, a banned drug performer. The governor has also said he was saving two billion naira monthly for the state – it is high time we asked him to give account of the several billions saved! Uzodimma flagged off billions of naira rabbit empowerment for Imo youths. We want to know who and who have benefitted from the scheme.
In fact, the governor claimed there are eight billion naira empowerment project for Imo youths. The masses are demanding for the identities of those who have benefitted from such projects.
Perhaps, nothing could be more nauseating than the governor’s terrible stand on salaries and pensions payments. While the governor and his armada of not well tutored media men falsely mount the podium saying they are not owing any worker or pensioner, it can be confirmed that Uzodimma only pays between 43 and 47 per cent of the workforce even as the salaries are grossly irregular and suffer unlawful deductions. The fate of the pensioners is worse as most of them have died because they cannot buy their routine drugs.
It is this bad for Imolites and Ndigbo.