The Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, said the killings going on in different parts of Nigeria can stop if Nigerians agree that it should.
“I’m almost certain that if all of us agreed today, that unknown gunmen and bandits must stop, they will stop,” Mr Uzodinma told reporters on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigeria has been grappling with diverse security challenges, including more than a decade of Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s North-east and the frequent deadly clashes between herders and farmers in several parts of the country.
Deadly attacks and abduction-for-ransom by bandits have been on the increase, daily, with the latest being the daring invasion of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, Nigeria’s North-west region, on Tuesday.
Two officers were killed and one senior officer abducted during the attack.
Governor Uzodinma’s Imo State and other states in the South-east region have similarly witnessed several deadly attacks by gunmen suspected to be members of the pro-Biafra group, IPOB.
Many police officers have been shot dead in the region, while public and private buildings, including Mr Uzodinma’s country home, have been attacked and set ablaze.
Six oil workers and one police officer were killed just about two weeks ago in an ambush in Imo.
Mr Uzodinma told reporters at the Presidential Villa that the killings in the country persist because those perpetuating it receive encouragement from others, mostly the political leaders.
He called on Nigerian leaders to protect the nation’s interest, respect the rule of law, and condemn criminal activities.
“It is condemnable that people kill human beings these days as if they are killing rams,” the governor said.
‘IPOB not a government in Imo’
Mr Uzodinma said he came to brief Mr Buhari on the security situation in Imo.
Despite the mounting killings in the state, the governor said Imo was “relatively very calm now.”
“People are going about their businesses without any molestation. The security agencies have risen to the occasion. And the new Imo is bubbling,” he said.
Mr Uzodinma also spoke on the sit-at-home order by IPOB, saying the order had not been obeyed in Imo.
“Most people in Imo are businessmen and women who depend on their daily activities and income to feed their families. So they cannot afford to sit at home idle and allow hunger to ravage the state,” he said.
He said it is only the governor that is vested with the power to ask residents to stay at home. “IPOB is not a government in Imo State,” he added.
Mr Uzodinma said Imo, unlike other states in the south, does not have an anti-grazing law.
Herders and farmers in the state, according to him, had signed an MOU and have been living together in peace.
“I think with the political will and cooperation of people, particularly our traditional leaders, we have been able to, a reasonable extent, manage to control criminality, and illegality in Imo State,” the governor said.
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