NEWSOPINIONPOLITICS

INSECURITY IN IMO: SOME QUICK FIXES

ONWUASOANYA FCC JONES

This is about the third time I am making recommendations on what I think the government should do to arrest the raging insecurity in the State. Some of these recommendations are fragments from discussions I have with friends and outright strangers who just pick up my phone number from anywhere and call to share their frustrations and ideas with what is going on in the State. I will continue to share these ideas as they come to me, because I genuinely care about the State and I know what it would mean to everyone in the State if these disturbances and bloodshed continue.

One of the immediate tasks before government and the security agencies in Imo State to win back the masses. Majority of Imo people do not trust security agents. They believe they are harassing innocent citizens, while running away from the criminal hoodlums terrorizing the State. The Police and other security agencies in the State should run some quick checks across its facilities and ensure that everyone who is unjustly detained is immediately released to his or her family.

There are reports that many of those who were released from detention were made to pay some huge amount of money in order to secure their bail. The police authorities should investigate this and ensure that it does not continue. Anyone who was wrongly detained should be freed, unconditionally. This will go someway in redeeming the image of the police in the communities, because when these people go back to their families and report that they were released after they were found to be innocent, it will go a long way in clearing the very bad impressions majority of the people have against the Police.

The idea of firing gunshots into the air, when there is no reason to do that is traumatizing to the people. The police and army need to restore itself to the position where helpless and frightened citizens will gladly run to them for safety when they are afraid of attacks from criminals. Today, some people would rather run away from the police and run to the hoodlums, if they have the chance.

On its part, the government needs to open the vaults and begin to execute some people oriented projects, pay salaries to those who are owed salaries, offset pension arrears, if there are such and win carry out some populist projects across select communities, especially, those areas suspected to be harboring some of these hoodlums.

The idea of setting up local security networks across the various communities in the State is laudable, but the governor must insist that the locals are allowed a freehand to recruit those to make up this security outfit. For optimal results, there shouldn’t be partisan considerations in recruiting these men and women. Those who are capable of delivering the jobs should be recruited and trained. Every community knows the kind of youths that fit the bill.

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The governor should also allow various communities in the State to select their leadership. The idea of allowing CampHope faithful to take over various communities as PGs may not have been a wonderful decision, because a number of these individuals may not have the needed connection with their people to be able to galvanize the people to a common goal. Some of those appointed as PGs in the various communities cannot convene a meeting and see a reasonable turnout. The governor needs to open up the political system a little more. The ‘occultic’ system, where, only those with longstanding affinity to CampHope are allowed any breathing space even at community level has so much alienated the people from government, to the dangerous point that most people wouldn’t care if the government collapses. Most people don’t know that the collapse of government is most likely, the collapse of the State.

The governor should undertake to pay some damages to families of those who died from stray bullets, no matter from whom it came. There should also be immediate reparations to families of those victims whose death is established to be in connection with abuses from security agencies.

If possible, the State governor should set up a Truth, Reconciliation and Peace Commission to be headed by a retired or serving justice of good moral standing and untainted public reputation. This commission will hear complaints from the general public about the abuses they might have suffered in the hands of the government and security agencies over the years. Memoranda shall also be welcomed from the public on recommendations for palliating those who were genuinely hurt by government policies or abuses from government officials and the police.

The importance and urgency in returning Imo to its peaceful past cannot be overstated and it is the duty of every Imo citizen, to contribute his or her quota to restoring this peace.

May Imo Win!

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