With Christian Akpunonu.
As earlier discussed in one of my recent essays,the security situations in the country generally and Imo State, Southeast in particular is escalating uncontrollably. Nobody is comfortable any longer to move around and go about normal Businesses. Everybody is nearly caught in throes of virulent trepidation. It’s been all the detestably orgies of gloom and despondency everywhere,both in the remote rural areas and Urban nerve centres in the entire Imo State and across the most parts of the South-East region of Nigeria.Nevertheless, reports trickle in that so many parts of the North, especially the usual volatile Northeast and Southern Kaduna are equally boilling with escalating precarious security situations. The gruesome bloodletting across the country is worrisome.
Apparently, the entire country seems to have been approximately overwhelmed by the escalation of violent criminality. The entire Southeast and particularly Imo State is presently witnessing the presence of military and joint task forces raids, harassing, haranguing and embarrassing the peace-loving people at the too many check points and in the workplaces and residents. The heartland state of Imo is now brimming with the presence of army,navy, air-force, civil defense, police, Nigerian legion, and even paramilitary personnel.
The tension of survival in this life has never been like this before now .Nobody feels free, comfortable or happy about the parlous security situations in the country and Imo state particularly. Even to the extent, that, the Governor of Imo State, H/E, Sen.Hope Uzodinma was recently reported to have made a special appeal to the President Muhammadu Buhari, PMB for more security operatives to be deployed to the Imo State situation.
In spite of the embarrassing and scary heavy presence of the government security operatives of sorts in the Imo State,the security situations keep worsening .It’s been, killings, rampages, arsons, massacre, kidnapping and general insecurity on the increase everyday and every nooks and crannies of Imo State.
In fact,as it stands right now,to many people,life is no longer worth living .What shall we do, please,give your counsel? The trappings of peaceful and social harmony of the Imo State capital is fast waning. This is bound to have profound adverse economic effect on the state .If not put in check,this situation will destroy the future of Imo State.
Unfortunately, while still grappling with the upsurge in violent criminality,the clamp down on the organized crime is being brazenly executed by both the EFCC and NDLEA simultaneously in the same state that is nearly shattered by violent criminality-Imo State, particularly Owerri the state capital. The entire Imo State, especially Owerri, is as now as tensed as the battlefield. The only difference between Owerri Imo State capital now and the Russian bomb pounded Ukraine is that there is neither war nor official state of emergency declared. This is not euphemism. It is true account of the situational awareness of many people, including yours sincerely. Succinctly put, the Imo State capital of Owerri appears to be under a siege.
We are no longer safe and secure. The erstwhile peaceful and Serene ,clean and green city of Owerri and other Urban and rural areas of the state are being consciously and gradually turned into war zones. And, many unsuspecting innocent people are made spontaneous victims of cross culture of violent criminality, extra judicial killings, rampages, arson, massacre, kidnapping and general insecurity. Under the impression of the growing anxieties thick in the air,the organized crime fighting is being virulently carried out on streets of the state like never before. The situation is not describable. The private operatives are marauding the state unabated. The official Government security operatives are equally marauding, like armed robbers,raiding everywhere unrestrained .The EFCC and NDLEA checkpoints, and house to house raiding everywhere in Owerri, Imo State capital is strangely wrecking more havoc. The approach is not only embarrassing but scaringly constituting more nuisance of course bound to do more harm than good to the Imo State’s economy. While people are being kidnapped incessantly everyday in the rural areas and Urban centres, the EFCC and NDLEA are at their best in the numerous checkpoints extorting money, bullying the youths, breaking into and raiding houses carrying people (Youths especially) and their private properties including, exotic cars, electronics and telephone handsets .The ugly story goes, that ,at checkpoints, EFCC and NDLEA will stop young men and women with flashy cars, and even the ones inside commuter buses searching, bullying and brutalizing them with reckless abandon .Recently, the reports in Radio,Print and Social Media was that well over 75 youths were arrested by the rampaging EFCC and NDLEA operatives in Owerri environs for owing Posh cars, living in cosy apartments and brandishing opulence with luxurious lifestyles.And,just last week the EFCC raided so many homes and residents of so many youths in the New Owerri, World Bank Housing Estate and Imo Housing Estate, Spibat area, Ikenegbu, and Aladinma Estate neighborhoods.They were reportedly witnessed by many to have brutalized, arrested and dispossessed many unsuspecting innocent people of their cars and no private properties,carted away and carried to only God knows where and why. This is unacceptable .The prevailing social and economy environment is being rendered so hash and inclement for human survival .Is there any law that expressly makes an averagely surviving young person a suspect of organized criminality? We need to be clarified by the establishment. The bitter lessons of the historical end-SARS saga should be enough eye-opener.
Moreover, given the precarious security situations in the state occasioned by the uncontrollable violent criminality, the timing of the EFCC and NDLEA raiding is unwarranted and vacuous.Especially,when it is being obvious that the system is nearly being overwhelmed by the violent criminality, the clamp down on organized crime is allowed if guided by tenable intelligence report, but it’s wrongly timed at the moment; as if it’s done with prejudice. The dare consequences of brutalizing and embarrassing unsuspecting innocent youths in the guise of crime fighting is not only bound to be devastating, but , capable of escalating violent criminality more and more. If these youths are eventually frustrated into restiveness and violent criminality,hell may soon let loose on our streets and living here becomes more unbearable. The Governments should look inwards, particularly the Imo State shared prosperity philosophy and 3R Agenda Government.
Meanwhile, the harsh realities of the ailing economy is taking so much toll on the common man,to eke out living is now very difficult. The market prices of the essential goods and services, food stuffs are ever shooting up astronomically. The petroleum pump prices persistent hike and it’s multiplier effects erodes the standard of living so much, and people are miserable, frustrated languishing in hardship. The suffering is becoming so unbearable.
The other worrisome despicable angle of the whole scenario is the vexed allegations that the EFCC and NDLEA operatives are dispossessing innocent youths of their private properties including cars and other treasure-able items, appropriate them for their own personal use. This is quite bad, and nausea, sheer impunity and very criminal. It is an eyesore,ear-tingling to see or learn that Imo youths are brutalized, assaulted, and bullied for owning flashy cars and telephone handsets .The way their privacy are invaded is unwarranted and senseless. Does the law allow the EFCC and NDLEA operatives to extort money and invade the privacy of the youths inordinately and randomly? Why should someone’s mobile phone be taken forcibly, opened and scrolled through to intrude viciously into one’s privacy? Is this the way of crime fighting?What a shame!
Something needs to be done decisively to minimize the impending danger and looming disaster that may erupt as a boomerang. Imo people, especially the residents of Owerri, the State capital are psychologically traumatized. The EFCC and NDLEA operatives are carrying their legitimate function very far to the points of ridicule. The approach and strategy seems to be bereft of intelligence,but shrouded in barbarism and brutality. Their impropriety is bound to escalate the lingering precarious security situations .This is neither condoning organized crime nor encouraging it. But, caution , intelligence,should be applied, knowing too well that most of the victimized youths are mere victims of bad governance, failed economy and unemployment .The youths arrested for the use of narcotics such as Indian hemp are victims of circumstance, especially the addicted users. The dealers of such hard drugs should be sought to be flushed out and nabbed to face the wrath of the law in-lieu of the users, addicts who are mere victims .The users as victims need to be rehabilitated. There is no justification to dispossess, embarrass, abuse,
assault and brutalize unsuspecting innocent youths the way it’s being done with impunity these days. We deserve more civilized, intelligent approach to organized crime fighting than the barbaric and crude style.