By Collins Opurozor
Last Thursday had Chief Hope Uzodinma at Orlu where he flagged off a military campaign, something exactly like the infamous”Operation Python Dance”. His charge to the military was clear and unambiguous. Ending his speech, Uzodinma openly promised to personally reward the officers and men if they succeeded at the tasks for which they were called upon.
Barely twenty-four hours later, the tasks began. The military invaded Izombe in Oguta LGA of Imo state and burnt down over seventy residential buildings, including the palace of a revered monarch, and brutally murdered tens of unarmed young persons. These were done in flagrant violation of all rules of engagement.
It was reported that the military personnel were on an illegal duty, taking sides in a dispute between oil thieves and cultists when one or two of the personnel got killed. In keeping with Uzodinma’s charge to them to crush, to destroy and to annihilate, the full might of the military was let loose on the entire community. Izombe was up in flames!
Till the late hours of Friday, gory images of slain young men kept pouring out from the area. Burnt buildings, weeping mothers, despairing kids, and a crowd of people racing along and fleeing the community were some of the outrageous and mindboglling scenes that emerged from Oguta on that day.
The morning of Saturday saw Izombe an empty, deserted town. It had been overrun, sacked and destroyed. It had become a ghost town. On the soil of Imo state today, Izombe people have become internally displaced persons in a heartbreaking manner. When theirs is added to the other areas which had earlier been torched, destroyed and deserted, like Orlu, Orsu and Oru East, it means that under the watch of Chief Uzodinma a territory in Imo almost the size of Malta has been destroyed and deserted within six months.
What troubles everyone is the reason Uzodinma is always fast to call the military on his people. It also baffles the world that no degree of onslaught against his ostensible citizens can get him to speak or act. If he chooses to speak, it is always to justify whatever misery that his militarization has brought on the people and to threaten to do more. “It was on my invitation that the military came” and “I have identified three locations in Njaba that I will bomb” are statements by Uzodinma which everyone must never forget.
Three days since the flow of blood and rage of fire began in Izombe, nothing has been said by Uzodinma. He has, worse still, left the state in pursuit of mundane pleasures in Abuja, while literally handing over the hapless citizens to a military whose profile in human rights violations is legendary. Resolution of dispute between criminal gangs is completely far from the mandate of any army in the world. Yet, this is the anomie which Uzodinma has brought to Imo state. And the people are paying with their lives!
The Izombe carnage should once again remind Imo people that they are living at the mercy of God alone. Those who swore to an oath to protect lives are now culpable in a festival of blood! Everyone is a casualty in the face of the ongoing battle which Uzodinma fights against his own people. All mortuaries in the state have been filled up with corpses to the extent that none accepts fresh ones.
The killings in Izombe will only make matters worse. Imo is finished! The FMC in Owerri recently announced plans to conduct mass burial for the countless unidentified corpses dumped in their morgue. Who killed them and dumped them there? Why would a so-called governor watch his citizens gruesomely murdered? Why does Uzodinma want Izombe wiped out? What has befallen Imo state? God please save Imo people!