Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State has explained why he invited soldiers to troubled areas in Orlu local government area of the state.
According to him, the reason for the invitation was to avoid more bloodshed, following various skirmishes that had led to the loss of innocent lives in the past few months.
The governor stated this in reaction to the ongoing military action in some parts of Orlu Senatorial District of the state which began last week Wednesday.
The state governor insisted that no amount of pressure on his administration would make him yield to pressure to withdraw soldiers from the affected area.
Speaking at a press conference in Owerri, the state capital on Friday, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Cyprain Akaolisa, said the narrative by the proscribed IPOB, that innocent people were being killed by the military was intended to shift attention from the despicable activities of the group in Orlu.
Uzodinma also added that the decision to invite the military came after intelligence reports revealed that there were deliberate attempts by IPOB to attack Orlu people and the government in the guise that they were looking for Fulani herdsmen.
These attacks, the governor said, started during the #Endsars protests in October 2020.
“The attacks on police stations and killing of policemen during #Endsars were carried out by IPOB and not protesting youths for the sole purpose of hijacking and stealing weapons.
“They are now using those arms to destroy Orlu.
“They killed 10 policemen, a prominent Orlu son, Ignatius Obiezu, and one Emmanuel Okeke (Soludo) and collected their Hilux vehicles.
“The IPOB also shot and killed four Muslims doing their business in Orlu.
“IPOB said they were looking for herdsmen, but these victims they killed before the crisis, were they herdsmen?
“We heard Nnamdi Kanu celebrating the activities of his men in Orlu, that they are doing well by killing innocent citizens. There’s no Fulani herdsmen in Orlu.
“So, we asked ourselves, what is the colouration that IPOB is trying to give this onslaught in Orlu?
“That’s why our government decided to invite military to flush out IPOB and their so called ESN.
“We discovered that there was a camp which IPOB established at Umutanze, Orlu, and we sent police to dislodge them.
“But, it happened that they attacked the policemen and killed two of them.
“It was after they killed those policemen that government had to bring in the military.
“It was not easy for the military to push them out of that place. But the military succeeded.
“That was why they came on a reprisal attack and killed the innocent ones.
“They also relocated to Udah in Orsu LGA, a camp at a boundary between Imo and Anambra States. The place is a very depressed groove that no one can easily enter.
“For the past two weeks, surveillance was monitoring that place and there were more than 200 people being trained in that camp.
“The military had to deploy their arsenal to diminish the IPOB people there.”
Reacting to calls for the withdrawal of the of the military men, the governor expressed surprise that anyone could make such a call when the area was still restive, insisting he would not budge to such clamour.
“We can’t do that. We can’t fold our arms for these boys to continue to kill people everyday”, he said.