Imo state governor, Hope Uzodinma has expressed no regrets over his decision to invite the Nigerian military to crush shootings and violence in Orlu area of the state. The governor who was at the presidential villa, Aso rock in Abuja met with President Muhammadu Buhari to give an update on the security situation in the state.
The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, an outlawed group by the Nigerian government had raised an alarm that the governor deployed military to kill its members including operatives of its newly formed security network ESN.
The governor had faced numerous criticism over the military deployment while many had compared his actions against those of northern governors who preferred to negotiate with terrorist groups that have been involved in violent crimes in the north.
“ You recall, during the ENDSARS protests, a lot of properties were damaged in Imo state, police stations were burnt down, soldiers were killed, their rifles removed from them. And immediately after the ENDSARS, we thought it was over then issues of kidnapping, where you know, a Catholic bishop was kidnapped and killed.
“ And this militants come out and begin to shoot. We’ve lost lives, market women were killed, old women were raped in Orlu area of Imo state and they visited this serious terror on the citizenry. And I came here, pleaded with Mr. President for his support and he sent additional support by sending in police and the military also came in. And that is where we are.
“It was on my invitation that the military came. And I did that because I know the situation was beyond the local arrangement, we needed help. And the help was given to us. And as I speak to you the situation has come down to normal, people are now going about their businesses,” Gov Uzodinma said.
He said those arrested will soon be charged to court: “And those caught will soon be charged to court. And all those military riffles from the army, the police, AK 47, and so on, were recovered by the people that came. We are a government level responsibility to protect lives. And while we have the Nigerian Army, Nigerian police security challenges, we invite them to go to work.”
Responding to questions that he sold out his people, the governor said it was his duty to protect the vulnerable in his state. “Nigeria, is a federation, Imo state is a federating unit, and all over the world, you have Provincial Police, you have federal police. So there was a need for me to report situation and that I did and we were supported to deal with the situation.
“It is not about crushing anybody and those that came didn’t do any crushing. Those that came through their intelligence identify where these people were and I can tell you, all the people arrested, all the rifles recovered are intact, the people are under interrogation, not even one, not even one soldier, or one of those militants died in the process. I must commend DCP Abba Kyari for a brilliant job he did. So let anybody politicize it. But I have a responsibility to protect the lives of my people,” he said.
On allegations of a plot to assassinate former governor Rochas Okorocha, he said “ Who will assassinate him? I don’t know about any attempt to assassinated Okorocha , rather what I know, because I have no personality issues with Okorocha. You will recall that before I became the governor, the Ihedioha administration set up a judicial panel of inquiry to look into acquisitions and allegations of lands, converting government lands to personal property, and then removing private lands from individuals and given to other individuals. The judicial panel of inquiry chaired by a judge met and they concluded our job. And a white paper has since been raised.”