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Friday, March 24, 2023

Njaba Killings: Questions Uzodinma Must Answer

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By Collins Opurozor

On Tuesday, a festival of blood took place in Njaba area of Imo state. Gunmen invaded a meeting of traditional rulers and rained bullets on the royal fathers. Two of the monarchs were confirmed dead on the spot, and one also reported dead before the fall of dusk. In one fell swoop, Imo lost three respected kings in the most brutal, sacrilegious and reprehensible manner.

What Imo people find disturbing is that between March and October that the state has been the hotbed of killings, arson and abductions in the entire South East, the regime of Chief Hope Uzodinma has done nothing to stem these atrocious acts. There is absolutely zero effort to remedy the situation. Beyond his once-in-a-while press statements on the issue, which are always miserably poor in grasping the dynamics of the insecurity, Uzodinma has not budged about the ongoing carnage in Imo.

He, in most cases, does not even utter a soothing word of condolence to the bereaved families. Remember Noel Chigbu, the hardworking young shawarma vendor who was murdered on his way back from work at Amakohia Flyover in Owerri, four months ago. Till this day, the regime in Imo has neither unmasked those behind his death nor reached out to his family in commiseration. His pregnant wife has continued to mourn endlessly. 

What about Darlington Odume, the young lawyer popularly known as Omekagu, who was murdered in Orlu nearly two months ago? Till this day, nothing has been said by Chief Uzodinma about his death. Not even the usual assurance of bringing the perpetrators of the dastardly act to book has been given by Uzodinma. Remember also Divine Nwaneri, an IMSU undergraduate who was shot dead just a step away from the Government House, Uzodinma’s dwelling place. 

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Reflect on the ordeals of HRH Eze (Engr.) Ralph Ekezie, a prominent traditional ruler in Orlu whose palace was last month burnt down in the middle of the night and his aides abducted, yet till this moment Uzodinma has not said anything about that. Also, the family of Oguchi Unachukwu, the businessman from Germany who was killed in Owerri on his way to the airport in June, got no words of commiseration from Uzodinma and his regime of cankerworms till date. 

Chinonso Uba had his hotel in Orlu razed and Hon. Gozie Nwagba, former Leader of Orlu Legislative Council, had his residential building burnt to ashes, and no reaction came from the regime headed by Uzodinma. The dozens of decapitated human heads that have flooded Orlu are mysteries which only the government must unravel and explain to the citizenry. This has not been done. Today, Orlu, Orsu and Oru East – a territory that is nearly twice bigger than the country called Malta – has been deserted under the watch of Uzodinma. Imo is now an ungoverned space!

The truth, therefore, is not so much that Uzodinma’s security policy has failed than that the man has no security policy in the first place. Worse still, his silence over these outrageous killings passes an unbearable signal that he may just be comfortable with the situation as a retaliation for the people’s unwavering refusal to support his ill-gotten gubernatorial mandate. 

It is now time for Uzodinma to answer very seriously for his inability or refusal to secure the lives and property of Imo people. And it is time, too, for Imo people ask questions about his bizarre and celebratory silence whenever our compatriots are mowed down by killers. Are the killings in Imo objectless? If no, then what are the remote and immediate causes, and what has Uzodinma done to address the causes? 

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Is Uzodinma not aware that his catastrophic failure to create opportunities for Imo youths is responsible for the restiveness and insecurity in the state? Does Uzodinma not know that it is cheaper to train people and engage them than to buy guns, build prisons and fight wars? What has Uzodinma done to address the employment miasma in Imo, a state that is currently rated as the unemployment capital of Nigeria with 83% youths totally jobless? What has Uzodinma done to engage the agrressors the appreciate substance of the entire debacle? How have his boastful utterances and threats of fire and brimstone, or even his thoughtless unleashing of troops on innocent citizens, helped the situation? These are soft security questions which the regime in Imo has inexplicably failed to address!

The trouble with Imo, in the words of the quintessential Chinua Achebe, is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. And as a Chinese proverb of nearly five hundred years says, “The fish rots from the head.” 

May the souls of the slain monarchs rest in peace and may God restore good leadership in Imo state.

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