It is no longer news in Njaba LGA and other communities in Imo State and Southeast Nigeria generally that bushes and farmlands are indiscriminately set ablaze by yet to be identified criminals. From Umuaka to Ekwe, Orodo, Okwudor, Isu Njaba and more, the story is exactly the same; farm crops and other valuables worth millions of Naira have so far been lost to the act of indiscriminate bush burnings by unidentified arsonists.
About two weeks ago, a community school in Eke Ibele community was seriously burnt down after the school field and compound had been burnt. By the time Umuaka Times arrived at the school, the administrative building of the school had been burnt about 30 percent and there was no means of putting off the fire outbreak. Also in Umuaka, directly opposite the popular Emeghara Ibe Filling Station was also set ablaze by unidentified persons. Had it not been the prompt intervention of some youths who put off the fire on time, it could have been a serious disaster as the fire outbreak was seriously gathering momentum towards reaching the palace of HRM Eze Justin Ezeala of Obinwanne Umuaka Autonomous Community.
The sad story is also the same in Isu LGA and other parts of Imo State. Last week, indications emerged which strongly suggested that “motorcycle boys” may most likely be the ones behind the violence of fire outbreaks.
A security man who works in a yet to be completed building in Umuaka who did not want his name mentioned, disclosed to Umuaka Times last week that he had witnessed two young boys on a bike who set fire on a long farmland and climbed their bike and zoomed off the moment the fire gathered momentum.
Another fellow who was busy working in her farm told Umuaka Times that she also witnessed about three young boys who went into the bush to smoke and after smoking, the set the bush on fire and disappeared.
There were also indications which held that in the 80s and 90s, bush burning was as a result of cigarette smokers who would throw unfinished burning cigarettes to the bush and fire would consequently start after a couple of minutes. Today, youths hardly smoke cigarettes; they all smoke hard drugs and when they are high, they set the bushes around them on fire by intention and disappear. These were the indicators that emerged last week.
Communities in Njaba LGA are hereby called upon to watch their environments and monitor the activities of “motorcycle boys”. Across the Njaba LGA, several women, most of them widows, have continued to lose a lot to preventable bush burning.