· Say victims, not ESN members
-Deaf and dumb, Lunatic , under age among those arrested as unknown gunmen-Ojinika
Hundreds of angry and distraught women from Orsu Ihiteukwa in Orsu LGA of Imo State on Wednesday, December 29 embarked on a protest march along some major roads in Owerri Municipality in a bid to draw the attention of the State governor Senator Hope Uzodinma to what they referred to as the indiscriminate, unlawful and unjustified arrest and detention of their sons and husbands by the Joint Task Force (JTF), comprising police, military and DSS personnel.
The women who took off from Freedom Square to Government House roundabout brandished different placards with inscriptions such as, “Governor Uzodinma, please release our sons and husbands”, Orsu Ihiteukwa women, ask for justice, “we say no to unlawful arrest of Orsu Ihiteukwa sons” among others, presented an open letter to the governor.
The letter dated December, 29, 2021 with the caption “RE: WRONGFUL ARREST OF SOME INNOCENT SONS OF ORSU-IHITEUKWA BY JOINT TASK FORCE (JTF) ON 13th DAY OF DECEMBER 2021. A PASSIONATE PLEA FOR THEIR RELEASE” stated that “We the concerned women of Orsu-Ihitukwa Community in Orsu L.G.A of Imo State wish to humbly and passionately petition you on the wrongful arrest of our sons and husbands by the Joint Task Force on the 13th day of December, 2021.
“The joint Task Force (JTF) made up of the Army, Police and Department of State Services (DSS) on the aforementioned date stormed our community Orsu-lhiteukwa very early in the morning breaking into houses and picking up young men some of whom had barely woken- up from sleep. During this raid, some mothers ‘and wives of these young men were virtually dragging their sons and husbands with the security agents who after overpowering them took away their children and husbands into their combat vans. There were also instances that the JTF picked up some other young men on the road as they were virtually parading the whole community , moving from one place to another.
“This operation was carried out amidst heavy shootings by the JTF which scared people in the community and made them scamper for safety.
“Sadly, these innocent young men were later paraded as having been arrested in a camp where they use for criminal activities.
“We wish to honestly state that most of these boys who were arrested on the said day are innocent and are bonafidc sons of Orsu-Ihiteukwa who were in their various homes and or on their way to their places of work when they were arrested. Ever since the arrest, we the mothers and wives of these Orsu-Ihiteukwa sons have neither seen or heard from them and this situation has further heightened our trauma and heart break as we do not know what is happening to them, whether they are dead or alive and the condition they are subjected to if they are still alive.”
“They lamented that most of those arrested are bread winners of their families and their absence since December 13, has inflicted untold hardship on their dependants which include children, wives and aged parents. Some are also the only sons of their families who have since them been subjected to unimaginable mental, emotional and psychological trauma.
The women said they want those creating tension and making the area ungovernable to be arrested and dealt with in accordance with the law but frowned at the idea of arresting innocent youths some of who are between the age bracket of 13 years and 15 years and branding them members of ESN, when they are not.
One of the protesters who simply identified herself as Lilian, said her husband, a motorcyclist was coming home when members of the JTF stormed their house and whisked him away after beating him mercilessly.
Speaking in the same vein, another protester , said, her 15 year old son was also woken up from sleep and taken away on the same allegation of being a member of ESN.
The letter further said, “Your Excellency sir, we know you are a man of conscience, a Christian with the fear of God, that is why we write you this petition and plead with you sir as a father to use your good offices and urgently look into our complaint and direct an immediate review of this arrest and ensure that those found innocent are released forthwith. We the concerned women of Orsu-lhiteukwa are in great pain and agony over the continued disappearance/ absence of our sons and husbands.”
“We also wish to state categorically that we are not against any genuine and honest efforts been made by your administration to flush out criminal elements in Orsu-lhiteukwa in particular and Imo State in general, but we are pleading that innocent people should not be affected or made to suffer for what they know nothing about.”
Names of the innocent young men from Orsuihiteukwa in Orsu L.G.A Imo state, who were wrongfully arrested on the 13″‘ December 2021, by the Imo State Joined Tax Force include; Chidubem David Akaegbosi, Timothy Ikenna Onyimmadu, Mgbecheta Ebere Promise, Ohinokwara Chukwuebuka Emilistus, Onumajuru Chisom Gabriel, Onumajuru Joseph Okafor, Ukoha Chikezie Emmanuel, Gregory Onwueyiagba, Chigozie Iguh Bendel, Chukwuka Kenneth Nzomiwu, Ojinka Vincent Chidiebere, Obioha Livinus, Ugochukwu Henry Ohianeli, Mbadike Sylvester Chigozie, Kelechi Solomon Onwujuba, Chimezie Lawrence Mmuododruo, Uwambiaraonwem, Ohaenwetaonwu Simon, Nwajebichi Sunday, Kingsley Olibo Offor, Obianeli Chukwuka Friday, Okonkwo Denis Odira, Highman Chidera, Ezeifedi Solomon Ifechukwu, Ehirim Uchechukwu Samuel, Ukenenye Udoehukwu Prince, Okeke Nnamdi Henry , Onyenekwurum Chidiebere.”
Speaking on the development,the former House of Representatives member for Orlu, Orsu and Oru East Federal Constituency, Dr Jeff Ojinika revealed that among those arrested during the raid are a Lunatic picked by the road side, A deaf and Dump and so many under age.
Ojinika allied himself with the position of the protesting women that the security agents should carry out thorough profiling of the suspects and ensure that innocent people are not punished over what they know nothing about.” We support the security agents to fish out the bandits terrorising our people.In doing so, innocent people shouldn’t fall victim”, he added.
Reacting to the raid by the security agents, the Attorney General of Imo state and commissioner for justice, Barr COC Akaolisa said his office will ensure that no innocent person is punished but disagreed on the allegation that the suspects were arrested from their various houses.