The attack by gunmen on the country home of the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor, in Oru East and the setting ablaze of Umuguma Police Station in Owerri West had disrupted the relative peace in Imo State. Unfortunately, the incidents, which took place on March 19, 2022, led to loss of some security personnel and destruction of property estimated at millions of naira. Prof. Obiozor’s home was reportedly razed with improvised explosive devices.
In the assault on the police station, no fewer than 12 vehicles were burnt by the arsonists. There were also threats by gunmen to bomb schools reciting the National Anthem and National Pledge in the South East. Due to the threats, some schools in Owerri metropolis were forced to end sessions abruptly and the students asked to go home. On Monday, there were clashes between security agents and gunmen in some parts of Enugu, Anambra and Imo states as a result of the usual sit-at-home orders. This is, indeed, not the best of the times for the South East on account of the rising insecurity in the region and the weekly disruption of economic activities.
We condemn the heinous attack on Obiozor’s country home and the torching of Umuguma Police Station by gunmen and call on the police authorities to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to book. There is no way Imo State can move forward with the rising insecurity and anarchy. It is time for the governors and other stakeholders in the region to act decisively to ensure lasting peace in the region. The South East cannot develop with the current spate of arson and lawlessness.
The political leaders in the South East should rise up and check the deteriorating security situation in the region before it is too late. The governors and other Igbo leaders must dialogue with the agitating youths for peace to return to the region because the South East is gradually sliding in almost all indices of human development and businesses are daily relocating to other zones.
A 2020 report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) ranked the South South geopolitical zone with 37.0 per cent unemployment rate as the highest in the country followed by the South East with 29.1 per cent. However, with the rising insecurity in the region, the South East must have overtaken the South South in unemployment. The Monday sit-at-home order, which the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has cancelled but still enforced by some amorphous groups, is not helping matters. Anambra State governor, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, has recently noted that the state loses N19.6billion each time a sit-at-home order is observed within its territory. No doubt, other states in the region are also witnessing similar economic losses.
Therefore, the governors and other leaders in the region must holistically address the disturbing security situation. Apart from providing good governance, the governors should create jobs for the restive youths. Good enough, Soludo has urged the youths to embrace dialogue. Other governors in the zone should follow his example. The rising insecurity in the South East is already a present danger to the zone. If the recent threat on schools in the region is anything to go by, the future of education and children, the leaders of tomorrow, will be compromised.
The South East has already lost a lot in terms of human and material resources to insecurity. We appeal to the Federal Government to quickly review its approach in tackling the crisis in the region because the situation has gone beyond the deployment of force. We think that the use of kinetic measures alone cannot bring lasting peace to the region.
We believe that the deployment of carrot and stick approach is the best way to resolve the security challenge in the region. There are issues that are better resolved through dialogue and the rising insecurity in the South East is undoubtedly one of them. The earlier the challenge is resolved, the better for the region and the country.