The report early this week in some national newspapers that “five suspected members of a militant group in the oil rich communities of Awarra/Assa in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State had been shot dead by troops operating in the area” made an interesting reading. According to the report, the militants met their waterloo during an encounter with the Special Military Task Force that stormed the communities last Saturday.
Interestingly, the spokesperson for the Imo State Police Command, Andrew Enwerem, was quoted in the report to have confirmed the presence of the troops. Incidentally, the same police spokesperson had issued a statement the penultimate week dismissively waving aside any report suggesting any attack by the rampaging cult groups in the communities. In a statement he issued in response to reports of cult killings in the oil producing communities of Awarra, Assa and Obile in Imo State, Enwerem had enjoined Nigerians “to see the publication as false, misleading and aimed at discrediting the efforts of the Police Command in their determination to end the restiveness of the cult groups that have been disturbing the peace of the area.”
It thus beggars belief that the same Imo State Police Command that denied any cult-related killings leading to the desertion of the affected communities could days later “confirm the presence” of the military to restore peace and security in those communities. This is unfortunate.
This naturally leads to the question, were the troops, who since this week have reportedly engaged the cultists in gun battles leading to the killing of some of the latter, deployed then to do what? To serve as traffic wardens? While the efforts of the troops in bringing back peace to the communities are commendable and should be sustained, the recourse of the Imo police to earlier deny the cult attacks before the intervention of the Special Military Task Force is deplorable and condemnable.
Bernard Keiran Ibe,
Owerri, Imo State