Soldiers occupy Owerri, tackle residents, block roads

Chidiebube Okeoma

Soldiers on Sunday took over parts of Owerri, the Imo State capital, subjecting residents to hardship.

The soldiers, who condoned off major roads, forced motorists to reverse their vehicles.

Residents, who were not in vehicles, were made to trek long distances to get to their destinations.

Commuters were forced to raise their hands above their heads as they walked through the streets.

Military officers were positioned along the streets with Armoured Personnel Carriers.

Some of the rifle-wielding soldiers were seen flogging a motorist.

Our correspondent, who monitored the development, was made to trek from Port Harcourt Road to Government House Roundabout.

A resident, who did not identify himself, said, “Owerri is turning to something else. What kind of punishment is this? I have been trekking for over one hour now. The government must stop punishing the people.”

Meanwhile, the state Governor, Hope Uzodinma, on Sunday, urged residents to disregard speculations that hoodlums wanted to attack the state again.

Uzodimma spoke after a church service at the Government House Chaplaincy in Owerri, the state capital.

He said, “Imo people and residents should go about their businesses without fear of molestation or harassment. What happened in the past weeks will never repeat itself again.

“Let me use this opportunity to reiterate my earlier stand that those perpetrating the violence and evil in Imo State are mostly not Igbo people, but hired machineries.

“The government under my watch will not allow those who visited mayhem on the people to operate again in Imo State.

 “We will crush anybody that attempts to cause mayhem or attack Imo people again. Government cannot surrender to blackmailers, hoodlums and perpetrators of violence who have sworn to make the state  ungovernable

“Over 400 of those who carried out the threats on the State in the past have been arrested and are undergoing trial in the courts. The good thing there is that over 70 per cent of them are not Igbo.”

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