Fear grips residents as insecurity heightens in Owerri zone
The insecurity situation in Imo State is currently on the upswing, as unknown gunmen and kidnappers have taken over most parts of the state.
DAILY POST reports that even the peaceful Owerri Senatorial district is fastly becoming the latest flashpoint.
Orlu and Okigwe zones have experienced severe insecurity which has resulted in at least a thousand murders and the destruction of property worth hundreds of millions of naira since the inception of Senator Hope Uzodinma’s administration three years ago.
Owerri zone, the only zone out of the three that the gunmen spared from their attacks, killings, kidnappings, and in some cases arson, is gradually losing its revered status as the most peaceful part of the state.
It has fastly turned into a flash point in the past three months.
Within the last 3 months, Ngor Okpala, one of the worst hit, has experienced three fatal gunmen attacks. The first occurred in the final week of March when gunmen ambushed members of the civil defence corps who were on patrol along the constantly busy Orishueze-Eche Road, killing three people instantaneously and leaving two more seriously injured.
Five police officers were also brutally murdered on the 21st of April 2023 at Okpala junction axis in the Ngor-Okpala council area after they entered a canteen on the Owerri-Aba Express Road by gunmen said to have been following the officers.
Sadly, the canteen’s owners, a husband and wife, were not spared by the hoodlums; they died alongside the security operatives.
Barely one month after, precisely, last Saturday, gunmen again ambushed and killed two policemen and injured one at a checkpoint at Okpala Junction in the Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of the State.
The recent attack caused panic and unrest in so many communities in the areas, as people continued to complain about the incessant attacks.
A resident of Umuhu community, in Ngor-Okpala LGA, Chief Chibuzo Nwachukwu, informed DAILY POST that people no longer slept with their eyes closed in the area.
“Tension is present everywhere,” he said.
According to him, “The hub had been Orlu where destruction of life and property resulted from a confrontation between the gunmen who started by attacking police stations and security personnel, but it appears the focus has now turned to Owerri Zone, where there has been a spate of gun violence over the past three months by the killing squad.
“For now, we don’t feel secure, as we are scared and always on high alert and lock our doors and gates as early as 7 pm to avoid uninvited guests.
“I earnestly implore the security services to investigate this situation as soon as possible to identify the perpetrators of this heinous crime and apprehend them.”
Findings also show that recently, unknown gunmen attacks are becoming a norm in the Amakohia Ubi community in Owerri West, another council area in Owerri Zone.
Residents of the community which has a common border with the Agwa community in Oguta LGA, have lamented how unknown gunmen from the Agwa axis, while enforcing the sit-at-home order on Monday, reportedly shot three persons to death.
A community source who pleaded anonymity told DAILY POST that the first victim, from Umuoka Amakohia Ubi, was a police officer identified as Chidiebere Akunna who wasn’t in police uniform but was returning from duty that morning.
He said the second victim, a minibus driver popularly called Bus Imo was reportedly gunned down and his bus set ablaze. The parents of the victim were said to be police officers serving with the old Fire Service Police Station.
He said the gunmen after dealing with their victims and looting some stores headed towards Ndegwu but suddenly made a detour and headed back to Agwa axis.
The source further said the military came with their armoured car and other military equipment immediately after they had zoomed off.
Another resident, Nze Opara likened the situation in Owerri zone to ‘war,’ saying: “We are at war and the earlier our leaders realise this, the better for all of us. We urge the government to intervene in our situation and rescue the community members from the hands of the hoodlums.”
Opara further appealed to the government to intervene and stop the incessant invasion of the community by hoodlums.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Henry Okoye while confirming some of the attacks appealed to Imolites to join hands with the police and other sister security agencies in the crusade against terrorism and to report any suspicious activity or person(s) seen with or treating gunshot injury to the nearest police station.