NJABA KILLINGS: Let The Living Contemplate – Chinedu Asuzu

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Life, the sage of Ecclesiastics opined and rightly so, is vanitas vanitatum and death is its inevitable end. It happens to us all, on differing platters. The inclined will say: God gave, God have taken, glory be to God. Amen.

But then every keen soul will ask: Did God mandate some to take on his behest? It is the wickedness of men that has ruined humanity. This humanity in all of us, by the passing of everyday, seems dead in Imo State and Nigeria too.

The recent attack on Royal fathers and custodians of traditions at Njaba Local Government is a sacrilegious tale too many. Its heartrending as it is saddening. It places a question mark on all that bond us as humans and as a people. The pictures are even more gory. It pains my heart to pen down this thoughts and is encouraged by the earnest desire to encourage the living to contemplate and decide.

The killings were unprovoked and a cautious attempt to cause havoc. The planning of the attack seems masterminded by people in the know of events. Now, the available fact is that Royal Fathers who were attending a meeting at the Njaba Local Government Headquarters in Imo State at the invitation of the Local Government Council Chairman were approached by gunmen who in satisfaction of purposes unknown to us at the interim but in obvious demonstration of their cannibalistic tendencies and to quench their inhuman thirst for blood sporadically shot and killed two Royals amongst whom are Eze Anayo Durueburuo of Okwudor Autonomous Community and Eze Samson Osunwa of Ihebinoere Autonomous Community. Ndi Eze, la nu nke oma. Some of the remaining Ndi-Eze sustained varying degrees of grievous bodily harm. Let it be stated that there are uncertainties as to the number of casualties.

This is because Arise Television in their breaking news on that fateful day reported five traditional rulers killed in the attack, whereas Channels Television reported two monarchs dead. To the highly respected Ndi-Eze who were hit by the bullets of these purveyors of mayhem and are battling with their lives in various hospitals. It is our prayers that your lives be sustained,

It is reported that the Interim Management Committee Chairman (local government chairman) of Njaba Local Government Area in his official release did emphasize that his management took proactive measures at averting any security breach during the meetings as scheduled that day at the council headquarters, which included that of the traditional rulers, by making arrangements for adequate security, which in turn came, but before the commencement of the meetings left the venue, narrating in his own words as follows:

“In order to ensure security of lives and property during the meeting, I called one ASP Nwankwo, who leads the Njaba LGA Police Operation Search and Flush Team on 18 October 2021 and requested the presence of his tea at the council headquarters the next day for the above programme. He agreed to come with his team. The police also came to the council headquarters on 19th October 2021 with his team as agreed. But shortly before the commencement of the programme, the leader of the police team, ASP Nwankwo came to my office and informed me that their commander instructed them to return to Owerri. I refused to allow them to go in order to avoid jeopardizing the security of lives and properties in the environment, but they insisted to go. They finally left and told me that they would be back before the next two hours. The HOD Works of the Council, Mr. Emeka Uneanya, and a vigilante security officer of the council, Mr. Ernest Okorochukwu were witnesses to the argument between me and the police team leader in my office”

A meticulous reading of the above extract instructs either complicity or unprofessionalism on the part of the Police. Judging by the very statement of the local government chairman of Njaba as above quoted, it is very obvious that either the police on ground had a foreknowledge of the impending attack and retreated or they are culpable somehow, because you can’t wish stuffs like this away as mere coincidence, owing to the fact that the police team left the people fallow and at the mercy of hoodlums in which case they were called in the first place to forestall; either ways there is surely an explanation to be made by the head of the police team that left their assigned duty post at the time before the tragedy struck.

Imo state under the current leadership of Sen Hope Uzodimma has been in the news since inception of his tenure for a wide range of insecurity challenges, most of which on several occasions the governor and his government has attributed to the oppositions in the state. While the allegations has not been substantiated with verifiable facts, it largely remains to be seen the facts on ground to buttress the spurious accusations of the government of the day that opposition elements are responsible for the unabating insecurity challenges bedevilling the state, particularly since he assumed office as the Governor and Chief Executive Officer of the state.

Agreed that insecurity challenges is not the peculiar preserve of Imo state in recent times, as other southeast states likewise sparingly experiences the spate of insecurity challenges in their various states, other zones of the country are likewise not insulated from the gory tales of insecurity challenges as well; nevertheless, while some other zones, particularly of the northern hemisphere could be said to be well known for random and most times persistent terrorists and banditry attacks, such quantum of terror attacks as being experienced of late in Imo state is not only unheard of in the state but way off the expectations of Ndi-Imo, as what they never envisaged or anticipated has become almost a daily occurrence in the once peaceful, accommodating, serene and boisterous state, which lately has suddenly turned to become a theatre of war where the safety of lives and properties of the people are no longer guaranteed.

There is this Igbo adage which readily comes to mind whenever I contemplate on the heightened insecurity in Imo state and the approach of the current state chief executive at tackling the menace, this adage simply states: “Agadi nwanyi daa nda ada n’abu aguu nhe obu na ukpo onu”, loosely translated (if an old woman stumbles twice while heading home from the market, wisdom depicts that the contents of her basket should be checked to ascertain the weight of her wares), the government of the day needed some introspections likewise on this issue of heightened insecurity under their watch, indeed they should be humble enough to search inwards for answers, it could yet be that the solution to this impasse might be found inward in this retrospective search, rather than the resort to blaming everyone else but themselves which is not helping the situation at all.

In lieu of the prevailing ugly scenarios occasioned by the heightened insecurity in the state, though accusing fingers steadily pointed at opposition elements by the government of the day as sponsors, truth is that what is glaring for all to see is that there is no smoke without fire, such that pointing accusing fingers will not in anyway solve the situation at hand, hence the need to reevaluate approach and methodology is becoming increasingly imperative.

The governor has since adopted a stiff combatant stand in tackling the myriad of terror attacks in the state, hence the state is become *over* militarized in the bid to combat the insecurity challenges, while one cannot authoritatively state that the approach is not yielding the desired results, however, one is wont to ask at what costs is this approach to the state, costs here should not be narrowed down to finance, rather the concomitant human casualties involved in the military incursions, as just few days back the Federal Medical Center Management in Imo state raised an alarm to the effects that their morgue is filled to the brim of unclaimed and unidentified corpses, and the news making the rounds is to the effect that those unclaimed and unidentified corpses littering the FMC morgue facility are dead bodies of individuals killed during some of the raids carried out by the military in the state, and in most cases innocent civilians caught in the web of the crossfire between the hoodlums and the military, now such is the humongous wasting of lives in the state since the inception of hostilities between the unknown gunmen and the security agencies of government trying to restore normalcy in the state.

Admittedly, the governor Sen Hope Uzodimma surely could be said to be keenly interested in restoring law and order in the state under his watch and he has likewise adopted a security strategy he believes is the best in tacking the issue, but the question here should be, is this his all out military offensive towards the insecurity challenges good enough, or is there a more amenable and less costs effective method or strategies to be adopted towards cutting costs of both monetary and human casualties in the bid at securing the state?

Another like it, to whose advantage is this all out military offensive for, and are we indeed better secured under this arrangement than we used to being? If the answers are NO, as I thought, then is there no need for the government of the day to tinker with the idea of dialogue in arriving at amicable resolution of the unwholesome debacle that is become our lot in the state of late? I say this because most times in either broadcast or interviews the governor is always insistent on saying that those sponsoring the hoodlums are known by him via intelligence reports available to him, if such is the case, can’t the mechanism of dialogue be put in motion now to put paid to further waste of lives and properties of citizens?

It’s so because common sense application is that when you are doing things in a particular way and getting same results that isn’t what you anticipated, the only way of probable positives is to apply alternative strategies, luck is that the one might hit at the solution quicker than continuing with the strategy that continues to provide same unhelpful results.

Another very disturbing angle to this issue is the almost fixated belief of the governor that only bringing in more and more military and having numerous security checkpoints and influx of different security agents and agencies into the state will solve this issues, now the military men are on rampage burning down houses with reckless abandon, killing, maiming, maltreating, harassing and taking prisoners of natives, first in Igombe tales of woes, Orsu, Orlu, Egbema et al not spared the onslaught of the military invasions; in askance mode, is rendering people homeless the panacea to the insecurity challenges in the state?

The governor was heard recently saying he has brought in “both known and unknown security into the state”, while he is being applauded for trying his best at securing the state by his believed approach, he should likewise be made to understand that in leadership carrot and sticks approach has been found effective in resolving intractable challenges most often than not, as such, he should try likewise to implore alternative measures towards ameliorating or totally halting the very parlous and precarious security situations the state is facing now, likewise he should advise the military not to resort to burning down people’s houses in the quest to secure them.