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International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), a non-governmental organisation, has called on democratic stakeholders in the country to urgently rescue Imo State from the hands of political gangsters fomenting trouble in the South Eastern state of Nigeria.
In the statement signed by its board chair, Emeka Umeagbalasi, and other principal officials, the society condemned the heightening political banditry and brigandage in the state ahead of the November 11, 2023 governorship election.
It said it was saddened that the state is dangerously going “through political gangsterism, killings, abductions, disappearances, house burnings and other property violence”.
The statement noted: “We are also deeply concerned regarding the intensification of military and police terror in the State; to the extent that over half of the State’s 27 Local Government Areas and most of their ‘autonomous communities’ are under military and police siege and terror.
“We are deeply alarmed that conventional security forces deployed to the State have fully transformed into terror squads and become more criminals than those they were deployed to lawfully checkmate.”
The full statement reads:
The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has noted with deepest dismay the heightening and intensifying political banditry and brigandage in Imo State-ahead of the State’s Nov 11, 2023 Governorship Election. It shocks and saddens our heart that the State is dangerously or gravely going through political gangsterism, killings, abductions, disappearances, house burnings and other property violence, etc. We are also deeply concerned regarding the intensification of military and police terror in the State; to the extent that over half of the State’s 27 Local Government Areas and most of their ‘autonomous communities’ are under military and police siege and terror. We are deeply alarmed that conventional security forces deployed to the State have fully transformed into terror squads and become more criminals than those they were deploy to lawfully checkmate. The security forces have not only become a nightmare to Imo residents, but also it is very difficult to differentiate them from men and women of underworld or non state actor felons. The worst of it all is the culpable role of the State Government including aiding, abetting and using State public or taxpayers’ funds to ground the State and degrade, suppress and oppress its citizenry. The sum-total of the above is found to be politically motivated and ill-conceived and dangerously aimed at ‘retaining gubernatorial seat’ at all costs in the Nov 11, 2023 State’s Governorship Poll.
The Beginning Of The Imo Disastrous Journey To The State Of Nature And Predatory State
The State was one of the most peaceful and lesser crime-infested and politically progressive States in the East until ‘the 1996 Otokoto Ritual/419 Saga’ when an eleven-year-old Ikechukwu Okonkwo; a groundnut seller, was on 19th Sept 1996 used for ritual and murdered by Chief Vincent Duru and his gang. The saga also debased the State’s ethical culture and threw up a culture of egregious corruption and immorality till date which marked the beginning of political darkness in the State including producing persons of questionable character in the majority of the State’s elective and appointive public offices. The State politically deteriorated further and became a killing field following ‘the Imo Governorship roguery of 2019-leading to Nigeria’s Supreme Court “canonization” of the present Governor in Jan 2020. Since then, Imo State had been turned upside down; forcing it to become a ‘killing field and South-East capital of political banditry and corruption.
Time For Democratic Forces To Rescue Imo
Democratic forces must congregate and aggregate to rescue Imo State from another four tortuous and bloody years in the hands of the gubernatorial incumbent. The democratic forces in Imo and their outside allies including uncompromised CSO and Media leaders or activists must be worried and concerned by ongoing sponsored political defections and organized killings, maiming, abductions, disappearances and property violence. The leaderships of leading parties like APGA, PDP and Labor must live above board, shun transactional/money politics and join hands to rescue Imo State. Political defections in Nigeria have rubbished and messed up the country’s leading political actors and ruined their characters and integrity. In Nigerian context and in democratic elections, political defection has no bearing and value. This is more so when most of those defecting in Imo are those that lost their legislative seats in the recently conducted polls. It is therefore time to join hands to rescue Imo State. The three political parties above mentioned must ensure that their candidates are not planted moles and persons with minus character. Those already chosen must be worked on and democratically transformed to understand that ‘it is not business as usual’. Such candidates must also be seen to be capable of being popularly and credibly voted for and they must understand that ‘the effects of the Obidient ballot tsunami’ have clearly shown that the era of snatching gubernatorial seat through the window or backdoor is gone for good and forever especially in South-East Nigeria.
Presidential Poll Court Processes Must Not Be Stopped By Sponsored Political Party Crises
Circumstantially speaking, the ruling APC and the camp of its “INEC-declared President-elect” are found to be remotely behind the sponsored crises in the Labor Party-with intent to destabilize the party and truncate the pending 2023 Presidential Election Petitions at the Court of Appeal. This is evidenced by the body language of the Labor Party group under APC clandestine sponsorship which has hurriedly and hastily addressed a media or written to the PEPT, urging it to “dismiss the pending case filed by the Party and its flag-bearer against the declaration of Mr. Ahmed Tinubu as “president-elect”; a clear circumstantial evidence of where the sponsorship is coming from. The above moves are also a clear invitation to anarchy and must not be left unmasked and unchecked.
In a civilized and well-conducted Society, the above moves would have been ignored, but Intersociety is deeply concerned because Nigeria has become a country where anything goes and anything can happen especially under the current APC controlled political dispensation. This is more so when before our very eyes, the Supreme Court awarded victory to a fourth place finisher in a Governorship Poll as “Governor of Imo State’. This was after a controversial Catholic Priest was presidentially contracted to make an immoral pronouncement: “I see hope coming to Imo State”. Therefore, if a fourth place finisher could be made a Governor by Nigeria’s Supreme Court by usurping the functions of INEC and awarding figures that never existed, then is it not correct to say that the APC clandestinely sponsored LP’s factional leadership’s call on PEPT to throw away the Party and its flag-bearer’s presidential petition may judicially get through if allowed or not unmasked?. The remote macabre dance of APC in the Labor Party’s leadership crisis was similar to that that took place in the then APGA over the Anambra Governorship Poll petition in 2004/2005 when internal wrangling through offering of bribes worth millions of naira was planted by PDP with intent to scuttle the then pending Governorship petition-leading to the bought-over party leadership withdrawing its involvement and participation in the Petition and Court’s proceedings and express endorsement of Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige to continue as interloper Gov. The interloper Government of Ngige was later in August 2005 and March 2006 ousted by Justice Nabaruma led Tribunal and Justice Mohammed led Court of Appeal, Enugu Division.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety)
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Criminologist/Researcher
Board Chair @Intersociety
Obianuju Joy Igboeli Esquire
Head, Civil Liberties and Rule of Law Program @ Intersociety
Chidinma Udegbunam Esquire
Head, Campaign and Publicity Department @ Intersociety
Head, Int’l Contacts and Mobilization @ Intersociety
Mobile Phone/WhatsApp: +2348174090052