Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has queried leaders in the State over their silence in the face of the persistent killings and kidnapping of innocent people by unknown gunmen.
Governor Uzodimma, spoke today, July 24, at the St. John Beloved Catholic Church at Umuna Ahu Uratta, Owerri, during a thanksgiving Service to mark one year of the death of Chief (Sir) Patrick Chukwuemeka Chikeka, husband of the Chief Judge of Imo State, Justice Theresa Chikeka.
Uzodinma emphasized, with regrets that leaders in the State, among who are former governors, deputy governors, Senators, Secretary to Government, have continued to keep silent over the insecurity challenge in Imo, leaving no one in doubt that either they are enjoying or sponsoring it.
He said that he expected them to condemn the attack on his country home, the attack on the country home of the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Professor George Obiozor, as well as the attacks on the homes of other government officials but they never did.
He said that while such so-called leaders in the State have not seen the need to speak up on kidnapping activities, beheading of Imo citizens, killing of traditional rulers and the act of cannibalism associated with most of the youths involved in banditry, they are quick to embark on condolence visit at Awo Omamma without even making efforts to ascertain the true position of things.
The Governor recalled the harrowing experience the Auxiliary Bishop Chikwe went through in the hands of the bandits when they kidnapped him last year and took him to Oguta before he was released, saying that what happened to the Bishop is not what one ought to experience.
Governor Uzodimma stressed that the primary reason government exists is the protection of lives and property of the citizenry, and that the worse thing that can happen to a society is if government abandons her responsibility to non state actors.
“There is no responsible government that would want to take life because the reason for government is to protect lives and property. There is also no responsible government that would encourage any act that would take human life, particularly innocent lives.”
The Governor advised the Church leadership to be painstaking in finding out the true position of things before taking a position, adding that through his actions and performance in the past two and half years, it is not in doubt that he has come to serve Imo people.
He challenged his opponents to point to what, where and how he has taking anything belonging to Imo people since assuming office, saying: “it is because they don’t have anything against me that they have decided to focus on my wrist watch as if they didn’t know who Hope Uzodimma was before he came into office.”
The Governor charged the leadership of the Church not to be deceived by misinformation flying around over the recent incident at Awo Omamma involving security operatives and some bad boys.
Uzodimma said that the Church must partner with the government to restore confidence in the larger society, even as he challenged the Church leadership to take seriously the activities of some desperate politicians in the State who work to destabilise the government, using false information on social media as tool of blackmail.
“When you see any story on the social media, please try and investigate it properly. Go further to do more investigation before criticising the security agencies so that they do not abandon us in the hands of non state actors.”
“My administration will never be part of the killing of my people,” saying that he hates blood letting as a true Catholic.
He said that he had had to drop all strategies that would have made insecurity a thing of the past in the State, but for the “collateral damage” and consequently, blood shed that would follow the implementation.
Governor Uzodimma said that though he is Chief Security Officer of Imo, but that he does not have total control of the security agencies working in the State to help government contain insecurity and restore peace in Imo.
“I am not completely in charge of the security agencies in the State. I am only the Chief Security Officer by mouth, without a barrack.”
Earlier in his homily, the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri, Catholic Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev Dr Moses Chikwe urged the congregation to be prayerful and to devote their time to praying for the Governor and his government so that God will use them for the good of the society.
Bishop Chikwe thanked Governor Uzodimma for honouring the Chikekas and St. John Beloved Catholic Church with his presence and that of his top government officials.
St. John Beloved Catholic Church used the opportunity to solicit for financial assistance from the guests for the completion of the Church building with Governor Uzodimma making a personal donation of N10 million while the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu gave N3 million on behalf of the Imo State Government.
The Deputy Governor, Professor Placid Njoku, the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Kennedy Ibe, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Barr Nnamdi Anyaehie, among other top officials from the federal and state governments attended the event.