Says Attacks Sponsored by Aggrieved Politicians to Bring Down APC Govt.
Embattled Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma Wednesday night blamed two successive attacks on public infrastructure and government facilities in Owerri, the state capital, on some aggrieved politicians whom he said were trying to paint the picture of lack of governance in the state under his watch. Uzodimma also said the attacks were not only a direct attack on his government, but also on the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC federal government “to bring the government of Muhammadu Buhari to disrepute”. He disclosed that about 85 out of the 1,844 inmates who escaped from the correctional facility have returned with the expectation that more would come.
Recall that on Monday, some gunmen unleashed mayhem on the correctional facility in the state setting free the inmates, before they set the building on fire. They also attacked the headquarters of the state police command, and torched the building and several vehicles. On Tuesday, the rampaging hoodlums attacked another divisional police station outside the state capital. Recall also that no sooner the incidents happened than the immediate past Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in a police preliminary report, fingered the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, and the Eastern Security Network, ESN as being responsible. Uzodimma however exonerated the groups.
Speaking on Channels Television current affairs programme, Politics Today, Governor Uzodimma said he had received information that some of the fleeing inmates had been calling through their lawyers to secure assurances that if they turned themselves in, they would not be charged again “and if this assurance is given to them, that they would willingly come back to the facility”.
Giving his perspective on what happened, the visibly disturbed governor described the attacks as “unbelievable” stating that “the incident happened to all of us as a surprise and we’ve commissioned a full-scale investigation into the matter and as I speak, the investigation team is busy working”.
According to him, “A group of hoodlums of course sponsored by some known politicians in Imo State decided to destroy public infrastructure and government facilities and attacked the correctional centre facilities and also attacked the police state headquarters; put so many vehicles ablaze, broke the correctional facilities open, and inmates escaped. However, as at this afternoon, over 80 of these inmates have returned to the facility while police and the security agencies are still fishing, identifying some and bringing them back to the facility.
“But what is important here to take home is for Nigerians to know of the plot by a group of aggrieved politicians to destabilize the government of APC. I have done some thorough investigation and I have a credible lead as to those who are sponsoring these activities of these hoodlums. I don’t want to pre-empt the other investigation by security agencies, but I can tell you we are working hard to ensure that the sponsors of this dastardly act must be brought to book”.
The governor further stated that the government was in possession of “credible evidence leading to those who paid the hoodlums, where they met, and how they met. And security agencies are already working with this information”. Buttressing his position that what happened was not only a direct attack on his government and the Buhari administration, Governor Uzodimma said “Let me tell you; the situation in the country currently is that some people are trying to sponsor what I can call a synchronized national crisis to bring the government of Muhammadu Buhari to disrepute. Otherwise, tell me why these things are happening at this time particularly in Imo State, APC state; particularly in Ebonyi State, APC state. What is it?
“People are sponsoring these things and some of them already caught have made confessional statements. I am going to forward my report to the central government and I must follow up to ensure those behind these things are brought to book.
In a veiled reference to his predecessor, Rochas Okorocha with whom he had been having a running battle over properties seized from the immediate past governor and members of his family, Governor Uzodimma said “What I do know is that we are operating a 3 R government here – government of reconstruction, government of rehabilitation, and government of recovery, and that means that some toes have been matched and those who are against this reconstruction and recovery, of course would do everything within their best to stop us from serving the people. But however, we are determined; we are going to serve our people”.
He said people were already holding press conferences in Abuja to paint a picture of loss of governance in Imo State. He promised that as soon as the report of the security agencies investigating the matter was ready, “I will make available the report to the public. Details of the modus operandi for the operation would be contained in the report”.
Debunking the allegation of involvement by IPOB and ESN, the governor explained that the perpetrators’ “tactics is that they try to identify grievances of people in a particular area. If it is Imo State and probably there are some IPOB people who are not happy, they hire hoodlums from outside Imo State, they bring them in pretending to be IPOB, and they commit this crime and they go away. So, it’s not about IPOB. Yes, we agree we have aggrieved IPOB members, but I can tell you those who are doing this destruction, most of them were brought from outside Imo State”.
On the link between ongoing military operations in the state and the recent attacks, the governor insisted that there was no correlation. “As I speak to you, honest political leaders and religious leaders have approached me to encourage the military to come around because these people are creating fear in the citizens by their dastardly acts; so, it is not about military. If for anything, our people want the military around so they can have a sense of security and go about their businesses without fear of any molestation”.
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