A security joint taskforce led by the Monitoring team of the Imo State police command has arrested some youths from Nekede community for allegedly invading into the State Zoological Garden and Wild life park in their locality on Friday with bulldozers to lay claim to a portion of the zoo.
According to a source, the youths were said to have massively pulled down the fence of the zoo , destroying some animal equipment in the process.
Meanwhile, the state government has advised the community to remain calm and wait for outcome of police investigation.
Special Adviser to governor Emeka Ihedioha on Security, Mr Ray Nkemdirim who gave the advice after talks with those concerned urged the youths not to do anything that will negate the existing peace in the community.
However, it would be recalled that the state government has been in a long time running battle with the community over ownership of the forest inside the zoo.
Some community sources claimed that a court of competent jurisdiction has ceded part of the forest to the zoo, while Imo government claimed that such judgment was unknown to it.
Nkemdirim informed that the police are currently investigating the issue, just as he urged the youths to allow the police to do their job diligently. “It is the duty of police to mediate into issues that can lead to bridge of peace.
“I can confirm to you that some youths who allegedly invaded the zoo were arrested but we are following due process in resolving the matter so that all parties will be happy”, Nkedirim said.
But the development has generated wide criticism against the action of the community.
A lover of nature who visited the zoo on Sunday Mr Jude Ozurumba criticized the action of the community and said such action could elude the zoo the big dream Ihedioha has for the facility.
He said government must not allow the selfish intentions of the community to prevail over the general interest of the people.
“This is the only surviving zoo in the South-East and the community wants to destroy it and government has not taken any firm decision on the matter.
“The zoo and the forest are both protected by the law of Eastern Nigeria, beside, government is the owner of all the land as prescribed by the land use act”. He said.