The once convivial atmosphere the pervaded the serene city of Owerri and Imo state is gradually giving way to security-tensed state as several kidnappings and murders are unresolved leaving the residents gasping for breadth
Once upon a time the state prided itself as the most peaceful, most secure and most stable state in the country. Successive governments and the citizenry regaled whoever cared to listen with tales of the second to none serenity and hospitality of the state. It did not take long before this mellifluous tune permeated the soul and mind of neighbouring states and indeed, Nigerians. Imo became the preferred destination for leisure and tourism in the country.
Today the story has changed. The state has been formally deflowered as vices hitherto alien to the state have built nests in all its nooks and crannies. From the enviable height of the most peaceful and secure state it has tumbled down to the dust as the most kidnapping and most assassinating state. In fact, as one commentator pointed out Imo State is gradually and steadily assuming the unenviable status of Nigeria’s killing field.
For those not resident or conversant with what goes on in the state this may sound like a bogus unrealistic claim. But, to Imolites this is a hard truth, they ceaselessly pray should develop wings and fly away. Unfortunately, it seems this earnest wish would remain in the cooler for a long time to come.
Investigation conducted by Nigerian Orient News revealed that between January 2012 and January 2013, more than twelve people have been sent to the world beyond by the combined team of kidnappers and hired assassins. More than double that figure were lucky to come back to their kith and kin after coughing out huge ransoms.
Till date however, one particular kidnap incident has remained a big jigsaw puzzle for all in the state. We are talking about the kidnap of Mr. Emenike Ihekwoba Principal Secretary Imo State Deputy Governor Sir Jude Agbaso who was taken hostage in August 2012 and has not been seen since then.
While the Principal Secretary’s where about remain a big mystery innocent citizens have continued to succumb to the superior fire power of the hoodlums. Among those missing include Uchenna Emmanuel Alaribe, Eze Stanley Akuneto, Nze Hilary Onuoha, little Miss Chinaza Onuwa, Chukas Ekeopara, Chief Charles Nwosu Laz Anyanwu and Dr. Nwiche.
Most of these missing people are bread winners of their respective families and many others. Their brutal departure therefore, has wrought untold hardship, grief, sorrow and pains to those left behind. Also, the way and manner they were abducted have continued to draw tears to the eyes of anyone that hears the story.
The story of Uchenna Emmanuel Alaribe of Umuokeada, Logara Ngor-Okpala L.G.A is one of such pathetic stories. Before his kidnap on January 19, 2012, the 35year old man was the Director of Alaribe and Sons Nigeria Limited, a company that is into distribution of drinks. He had also diversified into the transport sector owning some tippers that truck sand and gravel to building sites.
With regard to his main business the young entrepreneur has within a space of ten years transformed his late fathers business into a big company that had distributorship with major breweries like Nigeria Breweries, Guinness Nigeria Plc and Consolidated Breweries. Due to expansion he recruited over 20 youths who worked for him. Similarly, his patriotic spirit and love for his people made him locate his head office in Nnorie community, also in Ngor-Okpala L.G.A.
But, sadly, all these were not enough for the dare devil kidnappers some of whom allegedly hailed from the same council as Mr. Alaribe as they invaded his office that evening of January 19, 2012, as he took stock of the days sells. The kidnappers allegedly overpowered him the reportedly drove off in his 2012 Toyota Camry car and by the morning of January 21, 2012, his badly mutilated and decomposing body was found in a farmland between Obike community in Ngor-Okpala L.G.A, and Ndasi Rivers State.
It is a similar tale of horror in the case of the abduction and killing of little Miss ChinazaOnuwa. According to reports it was all confusion, tears and anguish as the body of the little girl was recovered from a ditch where the killers had dumped it after their dastard operation.
Little Miss Onuwa it was gathered stopped going to school for undisclosed reason midway into last term of the 2012-2013 academic session. But, as cruel fate would have it the day she resumed this year was her waterloo as she was allegedly killed, her body parts removed and her remains dumped into a ditch.
Expectedly, these blood cuddling killings that read like scenes from Hollywood horror movies have sufficiently repulsed Imolites to the extent that the reign of self help is palpable everywhere. The people seem set to re-enact a repeat of the violent revolution of the Otokoto era which swept away the murderous gang that held the entire state at the jugular that period.
It could be recalled that it was killing of eleven year old innocent Ekechukwu, a groundnut hawker that unleashed the unprecedented angst of Imolites on the criminals and lay waste their ill-gotten and wealth properties.
The first sign that this wave had started to gather momentum occurred a few weeks ago in Obilubi, Mbaitoli L.G.A. Sources told this magazine that angry youths of the community had descended on the newly built mansion and restaurant of one of alleged kidnap kingpins in the area and laid them to waste. The Kingpin had allegedly demanded a ransom of N7 million from the family of a woman he kidnapped. Unknown to him the ransom was tracked by security agents who promptly swooped on him in his hotel hideout and arrested him.
The anger recurred with even greater intensity and vehemence in Amaimo, Ikeduru L.G.A recently when it was revealed that those that kidnapped and murdered Mr. LazAnyanwu were his kinsmen. Before his gruesome killing Anyanwu worked as the Director of Protocol to the state Deputy Governor Sir Jude Agbaso.
Mr. Anyanwu whose killing also drew the ire of Owerri residents, it later emerged was kidnapped and killed by UdokaIbe of same Amaimo and Chigamezue Onyenwenu of Orodo, another community in Ikeduru council area of the state.
Nigerian OrientNews investigation revealed that this disclosure from the Police Public Relations Officer VitalisOnugu so incensed youths of the community who headed straight to UdokaIbe’s father house. The angry youths not only set the house ablaze but also killed his (Udoka’s) father.
The heavy cloud of insecurity hanging over Imo State has brought everybody on the alert as people now sleep with both eyes open. Unlike in the past when issues of security of life and property was left entirely in the hand of security agencies individuals, groups and communities are paying greater attention to such issues. Thus, issues like threat to life which few years ago was treated with levity is in the front burner at the moment.
The on-going investigation of threat to life leveled against Chief Christian NnadumijeIgwe, Special Adviser to Gov. RochasOkorocha on industrialization is proof of these changing times.
An Owerri based journalist Mr. Ifeanyi OkponwaEze had raised the alarm of threat to life against the politician in a petition to the state Commissioner of Police Mr. Adisa Bolanta headlined “complaint of threat to life against Chief Christian NnadumijeIgwe”.
In the petition a copy of which was obtained by this magazine Okponwa Eze alleged that Mr. Igwe issued threats to him following an article he published in the Imo Trumpet, an Owerri based newspaper captioned “On the tussle for Ideato North council chair”.
According to him the same day the piece appeared Mr. Igwe called his phone number which he never answered. Chief Igwe he alleged never stopped at that but proceeded to send a text message which read. “Bustop troubled, Idi Amin Tried, OhiahuruAguUbometc did the same, now Ifeanyi Okponwa. Ifeanyi Okponwa Ha! Ha!”
The petitioner stated that the text sufficiently convinced him that Mr. Igwe was indeed serious considering that all the four persons mentioned in his text who lived in Ideato North L.G.A were all dead. They include Mr. Romanus Ginigeme (aka Ohiahuruagu), Mr. Paul Ihionu (Idi Amin), Mr. Alexander Emezu (Bustop) and Mr. Fidelis Ihemeghai (Ubom). He attached photographs of three of the deceased to corroborate his allegation.
Nigerian OreintNews reliably gathered that Mr. Igwe has been a guest to the police Special Investigation Bureau (SIB) on two occasions. Police authorities are said to be keeping a close tab on the matter due to its weighty nature.
The daily rising rate of kidnapping, assassinations and other violent crimes in the eastern heartland has becomes a source of worry to Imolites. Only recently the news made the rounds that the state Deputy Governor Sir Jude Agbaso has relocated his family abroad because of the high level of insecurity in the state.
Expectedly, Sir, Agbaso has come to the open to refute the rumors but this magazine can confirm that Mrs. Agbaso is rarely seen in public functions in recent times. At least she was conspicuously missing at the Tuesday February 12, 2013, declaration for the All Progressive Ground Alliance (APGA) by Mrs. Ugochi Nnanna Okoro Commissioner for Community Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. Mrs. Nkechi Okorocha, wife of Gov. Okorocha and other top women of the government graced the occasion.
Mr. Christain Oguoma state secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is one person having sleepless nights over the spate of killings and kidnapping going on in the state. Oguoma told Nigerian OrientNews that kidnapping is a serious national problem that governments should work round the clock to curb. “Kidnapping is a serious national security problem; therefore governments should step up security to curb the problem.”
His sentiments are echoed by Mr. Ikechi Emekwe president Umuofor Amaimo Town Union and president Owerri Zone council of Town Union Presidents. Emekwe is worried that despite efforts of government to check the malaise it had continued to degenerate.
In his word: “That explains the level of moral decay and poverty in the land. In my own opinion, government should pay more attention to polices that can create wealth especially at the grassroots for we know the idle man is the devils cheap workshop. “He concluded.
Government on its part says it has continued to give priority attention to security of life and property. Chief Macdonald Amadi, Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Rochas Okorocha told this magazine that government decision to pull down houses belonging to kidnappers is one way of trying to reduce the vice to the barest minimum.
He pointed out that the state vigilante group known as Imo Security Network has equally been complementing efforts of security bodies in the fight against kidnapping and other violent crimes.