The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Imo State has urged president Muhammad Buhari to declare a state of emergency over worsening insecurity and attacks in the state.
The party said there were growing threat to its preparations for and voters’ participation in the impending general elections.
Engr. Charles Ugwuh, State Chairman at a press conference on Wednesday said that Over the past three years, there has been a steady degeneration of the security situation in the State characterized by kidnapping, arson, attacks and gruesome killing of innocent citizens.
He said Imo people have been traumatized by this unending reign of terror, which has created widespread fear and anxiety in the State, threatening to paralyze social and economic activities.
According to him, in response to the people’s concern for safety, and to complement the efforts of the regular Security Agencies, the Ebubeagu Vigilante Initiative was evolved.
“Unfortunately, rather than deploy the Outfit to address the security challenges in the State, it is being abused as an instrument of suppression and vengeance against perceived enemies of the State Government.
“It is worrisome that Ebubeagu, which appears currently positioned as a hit-squad under the DSS, represents a worse nightmare to the people of Imo State, than the organized network of bandits and kidnappers it was established to confront. Indeed, since the deployment of Ebubeagu against separatists groups and agitators, there has been a spike in insecurity to new and intolerable heights, characterized by a vicious cycle of extra-judicial killings and reprisal attacks.
“The result is that Imo State has been transformed into a theatre of war and butchery, where daily extra-judicial murders have become so common that the incidents no longer merit media headline attention.
“It is indeed regrettable that over these past years, our advice to the State Government to evolve a creative solution to the insecurity in the State has gone unheeded.
“Unfortunately, it is in this environment of terror and public anxiety that INEC recently lifted the embargo on electioneering campaigns. Since the flag-off of our campaigns in December, 2022 our efforts to reach out to the electorate through open Rallies have suffered severe setbacks on account of the atmosphere of fear and anxiety that has enveloped the entire State.
“Our candidates for the elections, leaders and stakeholders of our Party are being warned and threatened by unidentified persons to stop all forms of political activities or face unpleasant consequences. This being a consequence of the Governor’s continued worry why members of the opposition are not being targeted by unknown gunmen. In furtherance of these threats, our campaign Rally in Ahiazu Mbaise on 14th January, 2023 was belatedly visited by gunmen, and would have ended in horrific tragedy, but for Providential intervention.
“While still in shock over the missed attack, news of the brutal and fatal attack on the country home of our House of Representatives Candidate for Ideato South/Ideato North Federal Constituency in Akokwa on 14th January 2023 by over 50 gunmen hit the airwaves.
“The combined effect of all of these threats and attacks, is that the fear for personal safety they have created may disable political Parties from openly canvassing for votes, and also discourage voters from coming out to vote on election day which appears to be the aim of the purveyors of insecurity and their sponsors in the State.
“Again, the tragic irony in all of this is that the State Government under Senator Hope Uzodinma, which has a primary responsibility to protect lives and property, is not only incapable of securing the State, but also appears complicit in the escalation of insecurity. Indeed, the APC Government of Imo State is widely perceived as a sponsor of terror against political opposition and perceived enemies.
“Our deep concern therefore, is that under the current state of terror and public anxiety for personal safety, it will be foolhardy to further undertake any form of voter mobilization and vote canvassing in Imo State.
“Faced with imminent general elections to prepare for in an atmosphere of widespread insecurity and fear, we wish to request your urgent intervention to adequately secure the State, and therefore pray as follows:
“In view of the use of the Ebube Agu security outfit as a private Army by the Government of Imo State.
“Considering that the outfit has escalated rather than reduced the security challenges in the State.
“Worried that the outfit may have been infiltrated by non-State actors. Realizing that the make-up of Ebube Agu are shrouded in secrecy. Aware that members of the outfit which now bears arms are not trained, the Peoples Democratic Party Imo State calls for the immediate disbandment of Ebube Agu in Imo State.
“That since H. E. Senator Hope Uzodinma claims to have knowledge of the agreement between Ikenga Ugochinyere and the Unknown Gunmen, he should release the agreement and names of the unknown gunmen to Security Agencies for arrest and immediate prosecution.
“PDP Imo State calls for the immediate arrest and questioning of Mr. Chinasa Nwaneri following evidence of his threats to Ikenga Ugochinyere before the attack.
“That all Security Personnel attached to Chinasa Nwaneri be withdrawn since he is not entitled to such
“That Ugochinyere Ikenga and indeed all PDP Candidates and Leaders be provided with police security in view of evidences of threats to their life.
That the intelligence gathering capacity of the Security Agencies in the State should be further strengthened through the deployment of technology, to enable them adopt a preventive approach to security management in place of the current counter-productive combat strategy.
“That your office should take any other steps deemed appropriate to adequately secure the State and restore public confidence in this regard, particularly before and during the elections.
“We call on the National Security Adviser, the Inspector General of Police and the Director–General of the Department of State Security to review the entire security architecture and security personnel deployed to Imo State with a view to tackling the fostering insecurity in the State.
“That if the insecurity in Imo State persists, the President and Commander in Chief, Mohammadu Buhari should declare a State of emergency in Imo State.
“As responsible and patriotic stakeholders in Imo State, we can no longer continue to live in denial of the fact that Imo is a peculiar conflict State that requires creative and responsive intervention to manage.
“Since time is of the essence of our request, we are confident that you will appreciate and respond to our concerns in your usual timely manner”.