Hope Uzodinma, the governor of Imo state, has said that some of the bandit attacks in the state are motivated by politics.
Uzodinma claimed in an interview with SaharaReporters on Tuesday that some politicians who haven’t conceded defeat following the state’s most recent elections are behind the politically motivated attacks. The interview was broadcast on Channels TV.
He said, “In Imo state some of the banditry here are politically contrived. Some are real attacks by bandits, so I think that the kind of politics with bitterness that’s going on in the state and some parts of the region should really be condemned. That’s why we have decided to embark on both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches, we have engaged the community leaders in vigilante approach.
“We have engaged people into dialogue, getting traditional leaders to embark on reconciliation, address the political grievances of some politicians who have not been able to manage the defeats or losses they got from the last election, we are on it and I think we are getting close to a final solution on the issue of banditry, kidnapping and all these sorts of crimes in Imo State.
“One thing we have not gotten right from 1990 till date is how to manage political defeat, how democracy is highly threatened because of that. People are not doing politics with the spirit of sportsmanship as it is practised in other climes. People are so bitter when they are not able to have their way and they can go to any length to make sure that individual or personal interest is achieved.”
Uzodinma, speaking about the “unknown gunmen” attacking people and wreaking havoc in South-East Nigeria, noted that investigations were being carried out to know the forces behind banditry in the state.
“All these jargons came from people like you, whether they are called unknown gunmen or they are called bandits, armed robbers or kidnappers, the fact still remains that the common denominator that people are being killed,” he said.
He also noted that “violence is being encouraged; even the Nigerian military has changed their curriculum and has now brought experts that will teach security agencies about this modern kind of crime that was not here before. Everybody was all taken unawares.”
Uzodinma said those criticising the region’s security outfit, Ebubeagu do not want peace in the state as according to him, “Ebubeagu (operatives) don’t kill because they don’t have guns or rifles like bandits”.
He said, “Ebubeagu is a vigilante group in Imo State. It (Ebubeagu) is a product of a legislature, there’s a law backing Ebubeagu by Imo State House of Assembly and the approach is to get communities to be involved, collect intelligence and hand this intelligence to security agencies and Ebubeagu has no sophistication like the kind of rifles, the kind of guns the bandits are carrying all along. They are not armed, Ebubeagu is a vigilante arrangement and when they see unusual movements, they pick it up and report to security agencies to work on it.
“It is not as if it is a kind of security force that goes to war or that can kill, so I’m saying that those who are not interested in having a peaceful atmosphere in Imo state are those that are criticising Ebubeagu.”
He alleged that bandits are now acting like Ebubeagu to carry out nefarious activities in the state.
He said, “Some of these bandits are now acting like Ebubeagu. Of late, we discovered that bandits will attack a particular place and the next thing because they have their syndicate, they come up with propaganda that Ebubeagu has attacked.”
Contrary to the suggestion made by his colleague in Benue, Samuel Ortom, that the state security outfit should be armed, Uzodinma said Ebubeagu operatives will not be armed.
He insisted that they will collaborate with other security agencies.
He also said there’s nothing like sit-at-home anymore in Imo as “people go about their businesses and work in the state”.
Speaking on national politics, Uzodinma said he didn’t want to take issues with the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi as members of the All Progressives Congress, APC are obedient to the APC.
“I’m a politician and they know my party is APC and I have my candidate in my party and I know that we are currently consulting and speaking to our people to vote for our candidate and I’m concerned about what will come out of my campaign for my party.
“I don’t want to join issues with Peter Obi who you know is not a member of my party and I know members of APC are obedient to APC,” he said.
Expressing confidence that the APC will do well in the 2023 general elections in the state, the governor said reasonable minds in Imo state will vote for APC.
“I’m very confident that the reasonable minds in Imo State will vote for my party,” he said.
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