-Urge them to de-escalate hostilities

The South East Council of traditional rulers and representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops on peace and conflict resolution have decried the crises situation in the state and called on politicians to make conscious and deliberate efforts to de-escalate hostilities with a view to saving Imo State from being consumed by violence.

The group, in a statement dated January 2, 2022 with the caption, “Imo politicians must de-escalate hostilities to save Imo State,” said “The dramatic and condemnable invasion of a place of worship by officers of the Nigeria Police Force on 26 December, 2021 ostensibly to effect the arrest of a former Governorship candidate in Imo State has brought to the public consciousness the long-running troubling state of affairs in the State, which has led to the loss of many lives, hundreds of millions of Naira of property, a deterioration of the environment for business and a debilitating poisoning of public culture and trust.

Even as we write this statement, a report is breaking of an exchange of gunfire between unknown gunmen and law enforcement officers, which may have left several people dead. Imo has become a war zone and the Igbo nation is appalled that those responsible seem unable to gauge the consequences of their conduct. 

The tensions, violence and failing law and order situation have resulted in a significant number of deaths, including those of traditional rulers, a considerable number of missing persons, and the abduction of scores of youth presumably by law enforcement and non-state actors. Many attribute this to the prevailing political differences in the State. These arrested and kidnapped young men are said to be held in concentration camp conditions.

Continuing , the statement whih was signed by His majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe CFR mni, Obi of Onitsha and His Grace, Archibishop Chibuzo Opoko, Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia stated that, “This state of affairs in Imo State, blamed largely on a few politicians of the State and their cohorts, constitute an assault on the dignity and well-being of Ndi Imo and the Igbo nation.  It is unacceptable and must be brought to a speedy resolution.

“To pursue one’s political interest to the detriment of the interest of the people that one seeks to serve violates the essence of the Igbo way and good leadership. As such we call on all the gladiators, requesting that they note that the ethos of Ndi Igbo is steeped in ‘egbe belu ugo  ebelu’. We know what fate is cast on the one that does not allow the other to perch.

“We, as the clergy, traditional rulers and elders of conscience of Alaigbo, under the auspices of the Joint Body of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops on Peace and Conflict Resolution (J. B.) are compelled to intervene. 

First, we urge all the political leaders in contestations and their followers to cease and desist from all actions that will escalate or compound the situation on the ground in the State. 

“Next, we ask for an examination of conscience of the actors in Imo State, FCT, Abuja, or elsewhere.

We trust that the Igbo Spirit, which guided our intervention in the run up to the recent Anambra State governorship election and resulted in peaceful and salutary outcomes, will lead the key antagonists in Imo State politics to collaborate with us to help reconstruct the social order in Imo to greater civility.

“Finally, we propose to immediately commence meetings with the Governor, the past Governors, the former Governorship candidates, and elders of the State to scope the problem and proffer a solution.

 May peace and good order reign in Imo State.”