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Tension over planned protests in Imo •Group raises alarm, petitions IGP, DSS

By News Express on 30/06/2017

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•DSS acting DG Lawal Daura.
•DSS acting DG Lawal Daura.

A socio-political organisation, the Imo Youths Platform, has expressed concern over two planned protests in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on Monday, July 3, 2017, by two other groups led by the former Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Kelechi Nwagwu, from Owerri Zone on the one hand, and Comrade Jeff Nwaoha, from Orlu Zone, on the other hand.

In an open petition to the Inspector General of Police, and the Director General of the Department of State Services, signed by one Austin Echefu, Media & Strategy Coordinator, the group said: “As a proactive youth organisation that believes in a united and peaceful Imo State, where every citizen should have the greatest opportunities available to him to reach and maximise his potentials, we are greatly worried that the planned protests will only bring dangerous and regrettable outcomes, none of which will be good for the peace and security of the state.”

The group said, “Our interactions for over a period of one week now have shown us that the mass protest which is led by the former Speaker, who is also a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is said to be mass protests to register the disapprovals of the citizenry to the way the Governor, His Excellency Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha, has been running the affairs of the state. According to the anti-government mass protesters, the move is to communicate to the government that the people of the state are not happy with the way he has managed the state, ranging from the payment of pensions and salaries, corruption and bad governance, etc.

On the other hand, the pro-government protest is scheduled to hold same day, Monday, 3rd July, 2017. The pro-government protest led by Comrade Jeff Nwaoha is meant to counter and render a nullity the aims of the Kelechi Nwagwu group of protesters. This group believes the Governor has done well. The anti-government protest is being organised by Imo Stakeholders Forum led the former Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Kelechi Kennedy Nwagwu, while the pro-government protest is being championed by a group of daring youth bodies of over 10 different youth organisations in the state.

Ordinarily, protests are part of what makes democracy vibrant and different from dictatorship, where the wills and freedoms of the people are cruelly suppressed. However, as a responsible youth body in Imo State, we are worried that the outcomes of the protests would be different from the sweet messages posted on social media and the traditional media.

Sadly, we have discovered that the anti-government protest alleging corruption and bad governance is only a euphemism to the real plan of setting the state on fire, destabilize it and give some people some advantage ahead of the 2019 general elections. Our point is that the planned anti-government protest has been politicized by the planners, and it is just one of their tools to achieve their aims in the 2019 general elections. But we are afraid that these activities are capable of causing havoc of unimaginable proportions in the state.

“As a matter of fact, our interactions have shown that the anti-government protest is being bankrolled by a powerful member of the APC who is hugely interested in the 2019 governorship election in Imo State. Our interactions have also shown that the former Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Kelechi Nwagwu is closely working with this powerful APC member and 2019 aspirant for the governorship election in the state as a possible running mate upon which, he has been briefed to organize and carry out this dubious protest.”

On what it thinks should be done, the group said: “It is the view of Imo Youths Platform that the planned anti-government protest will not address the issues they claim but will only achieve the hidden aim, which is to cause disaffection among the people of the state and also deepen the perceived division in Imo APC into several factions, cause the breach of peace, law and order and incite Ndi Imo against the government of Gov. Rochas Okorocha. Whereas we do not claim that the state government led by Governor Okorocha is blameless, it is our considered view that the planned incitement of the people of the state for whatever reason is unwarranted and a smokescreen.

“Our interactions within and outside the state show that both groups planning the anti-government and pro-government protests are holding nocturnal meetings with certain youths organisations, especially people believed to be hoodlums and criminals have been contracted and briefed to use the occasion to vandalise shops, supermarkets, markets, etc, and possibly destroy government properties so as to give the impression that the citizenry are not happy with the government. This is more so, when a prominent member of the APC, Hon. Uche Onyeagucha, from Owerri Zone, has been quoted to have instructed that youths from Owerri Zone should destroy any billboard not belonging to aspirants from Owerri Zone. We gather that the pro-government protesters who are recruiting youths in the oil producing areas of Imo State will unleash the youths to counter the anti-government protesters, and the contracted hoodlums could take advantage of the situation and perpetrate their criminal acts.

“In all, we gathered that the two protests will only create the picture of an ungovernable Imo State where the citizenry have risen and perhaps taken the laws into their arms. The pro-government protesters understand that the anti-government protest has been politicised ahead of 2019 that is why they feel a duty to protect the image of the government by staging a counter protest to discredit the anti-government protesters.

With this in mind one can only imagine what could happen if these vibrant, ‘angry’ and ‘briefed’ and ‘brainwashed’ youths clash. It could ignite crisis.

“Imo Youths Platform does not believe in violent confrontation with the government, and anybody who is planning to bring the youths of the state to a head-on collision is not being patriotic and does not mean well for the state.

“On our own, we have considered the huge cost in terms of possible negative outcomes it will have on the state and the country, considering the current security situation all over the country, if the members of Imo Youths Platform mobilise and storm the streets of Owerri and confront these elements who are going to cause our dear state undue pain and chaos. We also understand that the officials of the Nigeria Police Force and the Department of State Services have been working assiduously for the safety of all in the country, and on several occasions the officials have paid the ultimate price. We do not, therefore, want some hired hoodlums or politicians that do not mean well for the people of the state to use undue advantage of the occasion of the protests to cause chaos in the state.

“This is why the Imo Youths Platform wants to use this open letter to the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the DSS to draw the attention of the security agencies to the underlying evils in the planned protests. We call on the IG of Police and DG of DSS to cause the stopping of the planned dubious protests forthwith to save lives and property; Doing this will prevent the impending cataclysm that the planned protests symbolise.

“The planned protests have already created apprehension in the minds of the people. This is shown in a report posted on the social media recently, written by one Modestus Nwankpa, captioned: ANARCHY LOOMS AS JEFF NWAOHA YOUTHS GET SET TO JAM KELECHI NWAUGWU’S GROUP IN SEPARATE STREET PROTESTS IN OWERRI. The author of the story began by warning that ‘Unless and until something drastic is done and urgently too by security agencies to forestall the looming crisis that may degenerate into anarchy in Imo State, giving the current mobilisation and assembling of all arsenal of protest by two different groups in Imo State who have all slated their street Protests in Owerri on 3rd of July, 2017, the precarious security situation in the state may worsen and the relative peace finally evaporate.’

He went on, noting that: ‘Incidentally but suspiciously yet deliberately arranged to jam force for force, the two protests will hold the same time, the same date and in the same state capital. The state is set to witness a collision of two diverse political interest groups as both of them shall be hitting the streets of Owerri to embark on a pro and anti Okorocha protests.’

He further noted that ‘The Jeff Nwoha group is fierce, notorious or rather has the history of jamming such system any time Okorocha’s political traducers came calling. Inside his group comprises of such Youth groups like: Imo Pilots (Keke Operator), Imo Youth Council, Youth Assembly of Nigeria, National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, Youths for Defence of Democracy, Youth Mandate, Niger Delta Rescue Movements, Women for Good Governance, Imo State Amalgamated Market and Traders Association, National Union of Imo State Students, among other youth bodies.

“Imo Youths Platform hates to take the law into their own arms, but we cannot watch any group(s) to destroy the peace we earnestly need in whatever guise and nomenclature. Therefore, in the event that the Police and the DSS allow the planned protests to go on as scheduled, Imo Youths Platform which believes in the future of all youths in the state will occupy the streets on the said date to confront these evil forces and manipulators who are set out to destabilise the state for their personal aggrandizement.

Imo is peaceful and nobody should be allowed to cause breach of the peace and cause chaos and public disorder for the selfish political motives and personal aggrandizement of few disgruntled politicians. Politicians who believe that politics is a game should endeavour to play by the rules of the game and settle their political differences politically and not create chaos in a state we all love.  

“The security agencies should see this matter beyond the prism of letter writing but as pure whistle blowing to save a looming cataclysm in Imo State.”

Source News Express

Posted 30/06/2017 9:20:25 PM





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