The political crisis in Imo State reached an all-time embarrassing level on Sunday 26 December, 2021, when masked security operatives stormed the St Peter’s Anglican Church, Eziama-Obaire, Nkwerre, and like a horror movie, whisked away Uche Nwosu, the son-in-law of former governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha.
Nwosu had gone with his family for a thanksgiving service after successfully burying his mother, Madam Jemaimah Adaeze Nwosu, when the masked security operatives stormed the church, shooting sporadically into the air. The pastors and congregants ran helter-skelter for dear life. One of the church members captured the scene in a video which went viral on social media.
The circumstances of the arrest of Nwosu led to the conclusion that he was abducted by the now popular “unknown gunmen”. To save its face, the police was forced to issue a statement immediately, admitting that their personnel from Abuja carried out the gestapo-style arrest.
Nwosu said he was stripped half-naked in the vehicle, handcuffed, photographed, videoed and driven to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, from where he was flown to Abuja. According to him, he was accused of fuelling the insecurity in the state by supplying arms to militants. Perhaps, realizing how frivolous the allegation was, the Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Usman, ordered his release on the same day.
The embarrassing action of the police cannot be divorced from the power tussle for the control of Imo State by Senator Hope Uzodinma and his arch rival, Senator Rochas Okorocha. Both men even though of the same All Progressives Congress (APC), are sworn enemies and will not rest in their supremacy battle.
But what is so worrisome is that the police could allow themselves to be used so cheaply to settle unnecessary political scores. Nwosu was just a victim caught in the crossfire. He was never invited by the police on any allegation. He was not on the run. His Abuja and Owerri homes are well known to the public. He could have been arrested there and not a sacred place of worship like the church.
Even if the police in its insanity had chosen the church or had concluded that Nwosu was a confirmed criminal or terrorist, there was a better and more dignified way of arresting him without endangering the lives of others. The police carried out the dastardly act without a valid warrant of arrest. Considering Nwosu’s personality, he could have been accorded all the respect he deserves and not what transpired.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s silence in this case gives the impression that he tacitly endorsed it. Else he should have called the police and governor to order. Imo State has lost a lot since Uzodimma’s emergence, courtesy of the Supreme Court. Those who live there and know Imo very well will attest to the fact that peace has become an illusion. The once bubbling state is now a shadow of its old self because of the unstable political environment obviously created by the governor who seems not to be at peace with himself.
There has been a sad commentary of the state because of the wanton killings and abductions. It is still fresh in the minds of the people how a high profile murder was carried out involving a former Political Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak in broad daylight.
Indeed, Imo as it is now, represents the Hobbesian state of nature where human life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. This shouldn’t continue, at least for the sake of the innocent and law-abiding citizens and other residents.
Today it is Uche Nwosu’s turn, who by the way, is alive to tell the story probably because he is a politically-exposed person who is highly connected, tomorrow it might be someone else, who may not have anyone to speak for him or her. As the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine.
The good people of the embattled state deserves peace so, Ndi-Imo should wake up before it is too late.