Monday, 05 June, 2023

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Why Police must speak out over killing of Imo monarchs —Igbo leaders


Last week, gunmen invaded Nnenasa, the headquarters of Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, venue of a meeting of monarchs from the council. They killed two of them and left three others with gunshot wounds.

The royal fathers were holding the meeting with the leadership of Njaba Council. The ugly incident, no doubt, is a dangerous dimension to the insecurity bedeviling the South-East region and it calls for serious concern.

If revered royal fathers could be attacked and killed while having a meeting for the progress of their communities, then Igbo land is in big trouble; it portends serious danger to Igbo land and must not be allowed to fester.

With the dimension the attacks and killings in Igbo land are taking, there is now a general belief that fifth columnists are actually at work to destroy the South-East region.

And from the account of the Njaba incident as given by the Chairman of the local government area, Mr. Emeka Iheanacho, the police definitely have some explanations to give on the Njaba attack.

Ihenacho said the police he invited to provide security for them suddenly withdrew, claiming they were recalled to Owerri by their commander.

Their absence gave the gunmen opportunity to attack. The action of the police must be investigated as there appears to be more to their sudden withdrawal from their duty post.

Governor Hope Uzodinma must, therefore, task the Federal Government to demand from the Imo State Police Command, what they know of the Njaba attack.

Perhaps, the action of the police, who suddenly withdrew from duty before the attack, when fully investigated, would provide guide to unraveling those behind the so-called unknown gunmen terrorizing and causing havoc in the entire South-East zone.


In the accounts of the council chairman, Emeka Iheanacho: “The Interim Management Committee Chairman of Njaba Local Government Area scheduled three major programmes for October 19, 2021, at the council headquarters, Nnenasa. The programmes are: Distribution of 20, 000 exercise books to heads of primary and secondary schools in Njaba LGA. Njaba LGA Stakeholders’ meeting for submission of community project needs for Imo State 2022 budget.

My monthly meeting with Njaba LGA Council of Traditional Rulers.
“In order to ensure security of lives and property during the meeting, I called one ASP Nwankwo, who leads the Njaba LGA Police Operation Search and Flush Team on October 18, 2021, and requested the presence of his team at the Council Headquarters the next day, for the above programmes. He agreed to come with his team.


“The police also came to the Council Headquarters on October 19, 2021, with his team as agreed. But shortly before the commencement of the programmes, the leader of the police team, ASP Nwankwo came to my office and informed me that their Commander instructed them to return to Owerri.

“I refused to allow them to go in order to avoid jeopardizing the security of lives and property in the environment, but they insisted on going. They finally left and told me that they would be back before the next two hours. The HOD , Works, of the council, Mr. Emeka Uneanya, and a vigilante security officer of the council, Mr. Ernest Okorochukwu, were witnesses to the argument between me and the police team leader in my office.


“Our meetings and programmes however commenced as we hoped on the return of the police team as they promised. But three hours after the commencement of the meeting, we did not see them. I then called the team leader to know why they have not come back, but he told me that their commander had not yet released them.

“Our usual monthly meeting with the traditional rulers, which happened to be the last programme for the day, was about to be concluded when we saw some armed men approaching the council hall where the meeting was taking place. The unknown gunmen on reaching the door to the hall, opened fire and shot at some of us, as we were scampering for safety.

“Unfortunately, we lost two traditional rulers, Eze Anayo Durueburuo of Okwudor Autonomous Community and Eze Samson Osunwa of Ihebinowere Autonomous Community who died on the spot. Three traditional rulers also sustained gunshot injuries.

“They are A. N. Onyeka of Nkume Autonomous Community, P. C Ukonu of Ugbele Aka Autonomous Community and Eze Uche Nwaka of Umunnam Autonomous Community.”
Iheanacho thereafter urged Governor Hope Uzodinma to direct “the DSS Operation Search and Flush Team, and NSCDC Operation Search and Flush Team posted to Njaba LGA, to report and commence work in the council with immediate effect, to beef up security in the area.”


Mourning the slain monarchs and sympathizing with the injured ones, Ohanaeze Ndigbo condemned the attack on the traditional rulers and described the ugly incident, saying it “calls for deep worry” as destroying of human life was alien to Igbo society.

The spokesman of Ohanaeze, Alex Ogbonnia who lamented the attack, said that “destruction of human life is a dangerous dimension that is very much alien to Igbo society.”

“In the past, any person that spills human blood is forced to exile as unworthy of humanity. Apart from the ostracism, several traditional functions are performed in order to cleanse, recover and reinstate the culprit to his community after a stipulated period in exile. On the other hand, the traditional vengeance that goes with killing a human being is so unfathomable that a rational Igbo cannot contemplate such an evil.

“The book, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, throws more light on the Igbo cosmology with respect to spilling of human blood. That informs the preponderance of opinion that fifth columnists are at work in Igbo land; especially coming so close to the high profile killings in other states of the South-East.

“On the other hand, I doubt if a true Igbo can purposely kill a traditional ruler. Be that as it may, Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Ambassador Professor George Obiozor condemns such dastardly acts in strongest terms. We urge the government of Imo State to do everything possible to bring the cowardly assassins to book. This will surely serve as deterrent to others.

“Ohanaeze uses this opportunity to once again call on the South-East governors to hasten their efforts in the inauguration of the Central Command of the Ebubeagu Security Outfit. With Ebubeagu, the role of the traditional institution and town union as the fourth tier of government, will be more manifest. The collaboration of state governments, local governments, traditional rulers, town unions and the Ebubeagu Security operatives will help to reduce all these strange crimes to the barest minimum. Security the world over, is a collective responsibility.

“It is regrettable that the South-East of Nigeria which before April 4, 2021 was a reference point as the safest zone in the country, has dramatically yielded to the unknown dark forces. Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide pleads with everybody to join hands in lifting the South-East from the Frankenstein abyss we have found ourselves in.”

Chief Augustine Okwudili, Secretary Human Rights and Justice Advocates, HRJA, said the Police should just apologise to the people especially Njaba people for failing to discharge their responsibility and stop the weak defense they are making about Njaba killing.

Credit: Vanguard News Nigeria

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