By Sunday Ani and Chukwudi Nweje
Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, has said banditry in the state was politically contrived by those who practise politics of bitterness even as he noted that the scourge was not limited to the state.
Governor Uzodimma, who made the declaration during a monitored live broadcast attributed the cause of insecurity in the state to politicians who have not been able to manage defeat in the last election.
He also noted that the state has risen up to the security challenge by embarking on both kinetic and non-kinetic approach to deal with the situation.
“In Imo State, the peculiarity is politics of bitterness; politicians who have not been able to manage defeat in the last election are the ones behind the insecurity in the state but we are close to getting solutions to banditry and other crimes in Imo State.”
He noted that whether they were called unknown gunmen or bandits, the major point is that people erre being killed, property destroyed and violence encouraged.
“The good news is that we have risen to the occasion and we are getting to terms with the reality of the moment and very soon, investigations would be concluded and everybody will know the truth.”
On how he controls the excesses of the state vigilantes and Ebubeagu security outfit, he said the recruitment process was such that the community leaders through their town unions and traditional rulers were the ones that submit names of those who are willing to help fight insecurity in the state.
He noted that they get communities involved in security of the state, stressing that allegations that they were unknown gunmen was a ruse because they were not armed.
“There are vigilante arrangement that when they see unusual movement, pick it up and report to the security agents, who take action based on such reports. Those who are against peace in Imo are those criticising Ebubeagu. Ebubeagu doesn’t have the capacity to attack men with sophisticated weapons,” he said.
On whether he is considering arming Ebubeagu like his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom is advocating, he said: “I was a lawmaker and I have always been of the opinion that untrained people should not be allowed to carry arms. Members of Ebubeagu have not been trained to bear arms. Moreover, arms and ammunition are in the Exclusive legislative list; so the Imo State Government cannot legislate to arm Ebubeagu. So, I won’t arm Ebubeagu rather they should work with the security agencies that are sufficiently armed because I don’t know where I will get the authority to do that since they have not been trained.”
Governor Uzodimma also said the Monday sit-at-home which has become a norm in the five states of the South East is no more operational in Imo State.
“There is nothing called sit-at-home any more in Imo State. People go about their businesses and workers go to work. The security people have been charged to ensure that the people are adequately protected and they have been doing that. So, there is no sit-at-home in Imo State any longer.”
On the ‘Obi-dient’ movement sweeping across all parts of the country, he said: “I am a politician and my party is the All Progressives Congress (APC). I am campaigning for my party and I don’t want to join issues with (Peter) Obi who is not a member of my party but I know that members of the APC are obedient to the APC. The reasonable minds in Imo State will vote for APC when the time comes.”