Imo and Cloud of Uncertainty Without Despair

By Chuks Osuji

A British Historian, Arnold Smith had written, “Even the best general surrounded by enemy soldiers with limited bullets do not despair even if the last bullet is fired.” Certainly, What has been happening in Imo State can be likened to the quotation above. What has been happening is enough to tremble a community of people in Imo State. Yet, in the early morning of Easter Monday after the foundation of Imo community was shaken by volleys of bullets,the people woke up, although threatened and frightened, gradually but steadily they moved around to their various destinations as if nothing happened. One by one, collectively and individually, they collected their luggage’s, articles of ware and other merchandises and went about their routine businesses.

Without doubt, those volleys of bullets which rattled the entire state capital in the wee hours of Monday were enough to force the population of Imo State capital to scamper for safety. Nothing of such happened.

Those of us who are old enough to be living in Owerri since the creation of Imo State in 1976 will agree with me that the state capital nay the state itself has witnessed serene environment. The only time that the peaceful atmosphere of the State capital was disturbed was in 1996 when a group of Super 419ners and ritual killers attempted to overtake the entire State. But they were stopped by a collective reaction of the people prompting one of the writers in the state to publish two editions of a book entitled, “A revolution at noon.” That was during the reign of Col. Tanko Zubiru. A northern Colonel who was touched by the depth of ritual murder in the state. In fact, he connived at the rampage of the citizens who went round the State capital destroying notable properties belonging to notable 419ners. This was triggered by the killing of a ten year old boy, Ikechukwu  Okonkwo whose severed head was aired on NTA news. After three days of unrest, police and soldiers were instructed,”Enough is Enough.” Then, sanity and tranquility returned to the State.

Honestly, with the exception of one or two night robberies at the Zenith Bank in Wetheral road which took place in the Midnight without any loss of human life, Owerri, the Imo State capital has enjoyed peaceful atmosphere.

Painfully and unfortunately, in the wee hours of Easter Monday the peace of the State capital was subjected to violent disturbance by some unidentified culprits who, according to some sources operated for over 3hours destroying police headquarters, burning vehicles and buildings and also rampaging the Correction Center(Owerri Prison) in the heart of the state capital. In the process of this “Mayhem” several buildings within the premises of the police headquarters were touched and many vehicles parked in the premises were destroyed or even burnt. By the time the attackers were through, they had no challenge of whatever kind.

Since then, the top five officials: the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Chief security officer of the state, His Excellency, Senator Hope Uzodinma have been busy trying to figure out how to respond to such carnage . Since then, as usual, tongues have started to wag as to who were the suspects?: why was there no challenge from any of the security agencies? And that’s why there was no slightest attack or challenge against the night marauders?

Certainly, while some of these questions were legitimate, many of them were misdirected because planners of such attack must have perfected their strategies over a period. I do not share in the blaming of security apparatus for so many reasons. The planners of the attack were no fools because they were professionals in their strategies, in choosing their targets and identified the time of the night when they would strike.

Those who were blaming the security operatives including police men who live in the barracks and soldiers at Obinze forgot that in every security command, that unless there is a raging war, no soldier or police officer can fire a gun at any target with his superiors command to do so. In other words, they do not have the command and amoury to mount an attack against their attackers. At that period of the morning, from the chief security officer to the last recruit, none without the superior’s command can come out to mount counter attack on the marauders

To my mind, the only blame that could be apportioned to security in the state is those not monitoring gatherings which would have given them a fore knowledge of the attack.

Therefore blaming security operatives of not mounting a counter attack or not having fore knowledge to the impending attack could be, to say the least over stretching the military. But now all is done and gone, they have the opportunity to show their class in intelligence strategy to unravel some of the mysteries and complexities surrounding this attack. It is only after a reasonable time has elapsed and nothing concrete found out of these great assault and insult on the people of Imo State by the security operatives that we can begin to apportion blames. On the other hand, we can still turn around to blame our collective selves that over  five million people in Imo State that there is obvious fact that few members of the public would have heard the slightest incling of this attack but why did they not speak up? Here, there is concrete evidence of reciprocal blame in the people of imo State. That having been said, the people of Imo State have once more demonstrated resilience without despair. After all, according to Hubert Humphrey one of America’s Vice Presidents, “The collective will of the people of United can stop a raging hurricane with their hands wide open.” We must not despair. And criticisms of the government, security operatives or all types of criticism will not solve our security problems. Because according to Walter Bagehot, “What touches all must be solved by all.”

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