Last weekend the Izombe community, an oil producing area of Imo State was invaded by the military following a clash between it, suspected oil bunkerers and the youths which led to the killing of a young man by the soldiers.
In the ensuing reprisal attack by the aggrieved youths, two soldiers who had taken refuge in the home of the traditional ruler lost their lives even as the natural ruler’s palace was burnt down.
The soldiers regrouping stormed the area reportedly with over 15 Hilux vans and 2 war tanks during which it burnt and destroyed over 70 houses, over 40 vehicles and motorcycles, sacking the entire community who now sought refuge in neighbouring towns.
The calamities suffered by the town no doubt would have set that area back for over two decades. The mental trauma and sudden blood pressure incidents suffered by the indigenes cannot be quantified.
The incident is not one that should be swept away with a wave of hand. At a time the government launched Exercise Golden Dawn, an operation for the military to enthrone peace and stability; it is now the same soldiers that are now destabilizing the society. It is difficult to explain what could justify the soldiers taking laws into their hands by attacking an unarmed civilian soft target.
Assuming but not accepting that they have been provoked into the action should they not have exercised restraint and explore all useful opportunities to seek redress. How has the humongous pains and injury inflicted on a town resolved their grievances? What is their benefit after all?
The soldiers are paid and funded by the tax payers’ money including proceeds of oil from Izombe. Why would they now bite the finger that is feeding them? This is a clear aberration and totally unacceptable and against the rule of engagements.
The South East region has suffered related incidents of this nature and the soldiers aided by our tolerant disposition and silence of our leaders has walked away like that without sanctions. Recall the killing of 28 boys at Afara Ukwu Umuahia in September 17, 2017 during the raid of Nnamdi Kanu’s home.
In another incident at Enugu in 2019, about 30 boys tagged Biafra boys were dispatched to their early grave by a combined team of the Directorate of State Services, the police and soldiers while holding a meeting. No compensation or action was taking nor was there a panel of inquiry.
The governors of Abia and Enugu who are the chief security officers of their state pretended it was no matter to challenge the military authorities and now this.
News Echo wishes to alert the federal and state government of the need to institute a judicial panel of inquiry with a view to bring the culprits to book. The rascality of the soldiers especially in the South East region must be brought to a halt. Turning the guns against the people they are supposed to be protecting is not tolerable.
We also call on the government to take steps to halt further aggravation of the crises that provoked this violence as well as compensation and rehabilitation of the displaced residents. It has been a tale of two many killings in this government which detracts from the peaceful nature of the people.