The governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, said the security situation in his state is ‘better’ when compared with “what is going on in other parts of Nigeria”.
“I can even tell you that the Imo case is better, apart from one or two cases that involved very important personalities. There has never been a time that 20 persons died (were killed) at a time or school children were kidnapped, and all that,” Mr Uzodinma told reporters at the Presidential Villa after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
It is not clear which state(s) the governor was specifically referring to as there have been several killings across the nation in recent months including high profile cases of school children being kidnapped especially in parts of the north.
‘Epicentre of violence’
IPOB, a pro-Biafra group, which has been proscribed by the Nigerian government, has a high concentration of its members and supporters in Imo State which appears to be the epicentre of the group’s activities in the country’s South-east region.
Apart from the frequent deadly attacks on security officials, there have been reports of police, including the Nigerian military, carrying out indiscriminate killings and arrests of civilians in the state.
The recent killing of Ahmed Gulak, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and a former political adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, in Owerri highlighted the level of insecurity in the state.
Governor Uzodinma’s country home in the state was attacked in April by gunmen who set ablaze part of the building.
“We have been doing our best to see that cases of security breaches are reduced to the barest minimum if not eliminated,” said Governor Uzodinma while speaking with the reporters at the Presidential Villa.
The governor said insecurity is a nationwide challenge. He, however, said Imo was relatively safe now for people to visit and also do business.
“We are doing our best. So far, the situation is relatively okay in Imo State than it was. Imo is okay now, people can come around and do their businesses. The normal life and activities have resumed in Imo State, security agencies are on top of their situation.”
The governor said he was open to suggestions from people on how to improve upon the security situation in the state.
“I did not closed no door (sic),” he said when asked if he had shut the door against negotiation with people he thought were “causing trouble” in the state.
“In Imo State, as I speak to you, only me cannot restore security. Only me cannot guarantee security. I have to work with traditional rulers, I have to work with opinion leaders, I have to work with the youth leaders to be able to deploy a community kind of security programme, to be able to resist what is going on today.
“But you have heard how people will come from outside the state in the name of unknown gunmen. I don’t know when we will begin to know these people and they will commit atrocities, and they will now flee,” Mr Uzodinma said.
“I want to use this opportunity to invite all leaders, religious leaders, political leaders, community leaders, and traditional institutions to join hands, because the only country we have is Nigeria, we don’t have another country. And if we’re not united, we will achieve nothing.
“We must contribute our quota, however it is, to ensure that Nigeria remains strong, united, a place that we will go about our businesses, equity and justice is guaranteed,” he added.