GOVERNOR Hope Uzodinma has stood by his decision to invite the Nigerian Army to put down protests in Imo State saying that the soldiers will remain in Orlu until they have routed the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) group.
Last week, Governor Uzodinma invited the army into the state to confront the Eastern Security Network (ESN), a local militia formed by Ipob to provide security. Ipob said the ESN was needed across the southeast geo-political zone to protect Nigeria’s Igbos from armed Fulani cattle herdsmen.
Over recent years, these herdsmen, equipped with AK47 assault rifles have spread terror across Nigeria as their livestock destroy farms and when communities complain the pastoralists respond with brutal armed attacks. Of late, the herdsmen have graduated to committing other forms of violent crimes including kidnapping, rape, banditry, murder and armed robbery.
Exasperated by the activities of the herdsmen, the governors of the six states of the southwest geo-political zone formed a regional militia called Amotekun to provide local security. In the southeast, however, the governors backed away from forming a similar regional security network, leading to Ipob filing the vacuum by floating ESN.
However, it appears that this move has not gone down well with Governor Uzodinma, who invited the Nigerian Army to Orlu last week, where soldiers engaged ESN in a military confrontation. Despite the widespread condemnation of the high-handed move, Governor Uzodinma has vowed that his administration would not yield to pressure from those calling for withdrawal of the soldiers.
He added that he invited soldiers in Orlu to restore calm in the area after Ipob members killed policemen and citizens. According to the governor, there were deliberate attempts by Ipob to attack the Orlu people and the government in the guise that they were looking for Fulani herdsmen.
Governor Uzodinma said: “They are now using those arms to destroy Orlu. They killed 10 policemen, a prominent Orlu son, Ignatius Obiezu and one Emmanuel Okeke Soludo and collected their Hilux vehicles
“Ipob also shot and killed four Moslems doing their business in Orlu, saying they were looking for herdsmen but these victims they killed before the crisis, were they herdsmen? We heard Nnamdi Kanu celebrating the activities of his men in Orlu that they are doing well by killing innocent citizens but there’s no Fulani herdsmen in Orlu.
“That’s why our government decided to invite military to flush out Ipob and their so-called ESN. We discovered that there was a camp which Ipob established at Umutanze, Orlu and we sent police to dislodge them.”
He added that the attacks on police stations and the killing of security personnel during the #EndSARS riots were carried out by Ipob for the sole purpose of stealing weapons. According to the governor, after the military succeeded in dislodging Ipob, its members went on a reprisal spree and murdered people.
Governor Uzodinma said Ipob relocated to Udah in Orsu Local Government Area, to a camp at a boundary between Imo and Anambra States. He disclosed that the place was under surveillance for two weeks and it was discovered more than 200 fighters were being trained.
According to the governor, the military had to deploy their arsenal to diminish Ipob there. Governor Uzodinma stated that his administration would watch and allow the killing of citizens everyday.