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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Ohaji/Egbema Crisis: Palace, Many Houses Burnt

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…As Army Captain Blames Govt. Forces

Kingsley Ogbonna

As the crises ravaging Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State continues unabated, gunmen, Thursday night set ablaze the Palace of the traditional Ruler of Etekwuru community (Ezeali), even as they also burnt his Sports Utility Vehicle.

Atlantic Reporters gathered that the traditional ruler, His Royal Highness, Eze Okwodu escaped unhurt.

Trouble started, when some youths engaged soldiers in a gun duel, leading to loss of lives of some soldiers.

The soldiers, according to an eye witness account reinforced and invaded the community, setting some houses ablaze, while yet to be ascertained number of lives were lost.

Giving an update on the matter, an indigene of the area and ex-Captain of the United States Army, Captain Bishop Johnson, in a WhatsApp post said:

“Good morning all. While this approach will bring a new and positive dimension in the relationship between the leaders and the led, and could lead to resolution of certain other ills of the community and society sort to say, it may not likely resolve the issue of attacks on security agencies by some youths. I am careful here to not say ‘the youths” instead I said ‘some youths” bcos my research and understanding of the issues particularly the issues that took place in Izombe, Etekwuru and Umudike shows that those who attacked the security agencies are one of the same class of youths. This class of youths or these particular group of persons are less likely to participate in any form of community forum or engagement. In fact, they will be ‘No Shows” and even the communities themselves are so afraid of them that they can’t engage them in any discussions. If they even show in any forum by accident, many other people in the communities will excuse themselves and abscond. You are talking about cultists, hardcore criminals, prison escapees who spend most of their time in hiding in various camps from Imo State all the way to Bayelsa State.”

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He blamed the law enforcement agencies for being complicit in the problem.

“The security agencies themselves are complicit to the problems. Bone of contention in these two instances had been purely economical, emanating from disputes over monies in bunkering activities and related security checkpoints and security personnel at those checkpoints and in those communities.”

“Only houses of those in Etekwuru and Umudike suspected to be involved in the killing of the soldier were burnt. All through yesterday and this morning I HV been on the phone with the sector commander Egbema Production Center, Ukwugba, Capt Hamza who led the operations, to ensure that no innocent person is hurt and he gave me his word. I can report that the operation is over and no innocent life was lost and no property of innocent people was torched. This morning again I have spoken with Capt Hamza and the traditional ruler of Obuomadike Autonomous Community, Eze Dr Sylvester Okwodu and arrangements is ongoing to inform all residents of Etekwuru and Umudike communities to return home to their normal lives.”

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