It is no doubt that the South-East is seriously under attacks by Unknown Gunmen, and this has led to the destruction of several Police Stations and offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the region. Although these attacks are condemnable, and the government has shown its determination to crush the attackers, this however, should not be used to harass and intimate innocent youths who go about their businesses without involving themselves in any form of criminal activities.
It should be recalled that since the recent wave of attacks on security formations in the Imo, there have been reports of killings in the state, particularly in Owerri where nothing less than 4 innocent people have reportedly been killed by the military. Again, there have also been reports of of some others who died after they were hit by stray bullets. As if this is not enough, the recent shoot-at-sight order issued to security agencies have not helped matter.
Prior to this order, one can argue that Bandits were not known in Imo, but it has recently become a label given to some Youths who have been arrested on the allegations that they are suspected members of the Unknown Gunmen terrorising the State. Just recently, the State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma revealed that over 400 people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the attacks in Imo State.
We equally witnessed as a young lady identified as Queen Elias recently cried out to the public, that her uncle who only went to Owerri to purchase some items in preparation for his father-in-law’s burial, was being paraded as a member of the Unknown Gunmen. With all these in mind, we may begin the wonder about the correctness of the accusations levelled against those being labelled and killed as bandits in the state. It is no doubt that there are Unknown Gunmen operating in the state, but the arrest of random people, labeling the as bandits must be discouraged.
With what is currently happening in Imo, coupled with the shoot-at-sight order and as well as house to house search for IPOB/ESN and Unknown Gunmen members, one may not be surprised to see innocent and unarmed youths being labelled as bandits and killed for no justifiable reasons. This as a mater of necessity, be discouraged as it had the capacity to worsen the already fragile relationship between security agents and the people. Both the military and police should be advised to abide by the ethics of their profession and ensure that innocent people are not killed or paraded for a crime that they did not commit.