Traditional rulers and clerics in the South East region have urged politicians in Imo State to end their hostilities to save the state, stressing that the state has become a war zone.
In a statement issued by the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe and Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia, Chibuzo Opoko after their meeting in Enugu, they insisted that the state of affairs in Imo had led to loss of many lives, property, toxic business environment and debilitating public culture and trust.
They lamented the invasion of a church by officers of the Nigeria Police on December 26, 2021 to arrest candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) in the 2019 governorship election, Uche Nwosu, brought the troubling state of affairs in the state to the public consciousness.
“Even as we write this, exchange of gunfire between unknown gunmen and law enforcement officers, which may have left several people dead, was reported. Imo has become a war zone and the Igbo nation is appalled that those responsible seem unable to gauge the consequences of their conducts.
“The tension, violence and failing law and order have resulted in many deaths, including those of traditional rulers, missing persons and abduction of scores of youths presumably by law enforcement and non-state actors. Many attribute this to the prevailing political differences in the state. The arrested and kidnapped young men are being held in conditions of concentration camps,” the statement reads.
They also lamented that the state of affairs in Imo should be blamed largely on some politicians and their cohorts, who constitute an assault on the dignity and wellbeing of Imo people and the Igbo nation.
“This is unacceptable and must be brought to a speedy resolution. To pursue one’s political interest to the detriment of the people that one seeks to serve violates the essence of the Igbo way and good leadership. As such, we urge all the gladiators to allow peace to reign.
“We urge all the political leaders in contestation and their followers to desist from all actions that would escalate the situation in the state. They should examine their conscience in Imo State, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja or elsewhere.
“We trust that the Igbo Spirit, which guided our intervention in the run up to the November 6, 2021 Anambra State governorship election that resulted in peaceful and salutary outcomes, will lead the key antagonists in Imo State politics to collaborate with us to help reconstruct the social order in the state to greater civility,” the statement added.
They proposed to hold meetings with Governor Hope Uzodimma, former governors, former governorship candidates and elders of the state to review the situation and proffer a lasting solution.