Just a few days after the peaceful celebration of Christmas and New Year activities in Senator Hope Uzodimma led Imo State, trouble has resurfaced in the state thereby putting both the rich and the poor in a state of total jeopardy. The upsurge in violence and kidnapping started as early as January 6, 2024 when the former chairman of Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Eze Samuel Ohiri of Orodo town Mbaitoli LGA was kidnapped and tortured for 12 days. From the day the monarch was kidnapped, it was as if the kidnappers were waiting for the celebrations to come to an end before they launched their unending offensive in the state. There are reports of other commando-like kidnapping incidents in the state which other communities in the state have witnessed in the new year.
In Njaba LGA, a commercial motorcycle operator was slapped and his motorcycle snatched at gunpoint in Umuezeala Uba Umuaka Njaba LGA by some heavily armed men who operated in a mini bus referred in the local parlance as “keke bus”. There are other several stories of violent crimes in the state which Umuaka Times could not confirm by press time as at last week but the good news is that, the police in the state have so far made some arrests. Umuaka Times investigations show that a big forest which cuts across Ihiagwa, Obinze, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nekede and Avu towns are the most fertile grounds for kidnapping and other criminal activities in the state.
Reports which emerged last week disclosed that security has been beefed up in the affected areas of the state. On January 29, 2024, the Imo Police Commissioner, Aboki Danjuma with his team stormed the forest in question and made some shocking discoveries such as human parts, decomposing bodies of kidnap and ritual killing victims and more. It was also reported that the arrests that were made showed that five persons from Jau LGA in Jigawa State named, Ozeru Sabo, Muazu Awuta, Bashir Yahaya, Saddam Suleiman and Abdullahi Abubakar were among the suspects in connection with the kidnappings and killings.
In response to the current development, Imo communities have also launched a fight back defence mechanism; Umuaka Times local affairs reporters gathered last week that a good number of communities in the state have properly equipped their vigilante groups and many more security gadgets acquired. Another method such communities employed to safeguard themselves was to use the Whatsapp digital platform to circulate messages in the state. For now, Imo residents are warned to be careful in their movements and report any suspicious movement to the appropriate authorities as the police work hard in synergy with relevant authorities and stakeholders to control the situation.