• I saw 35 bodies recently dumped at FMC –Archbishop
Owerri, the Imo State capital, is fast becoming a ghost town following the unrelenting spate of killings, violent crimes and general insecurity in the state.
The state of the government mortuaries in the state capital, which are being overrun by corpses, is reflective of the ugly security situation in the state. Beyond the activities of hoodlums and criminal elements, the activities of the security forces are largely responsible for the mounting body-count in the affected mortuaries.
The rules of engagement for most of the security operatives seem to have been suspended as they embark on a feast of blood and harvest of death.
In some areas in the state, it is no longer strange to wake up in the morning to see dead bodies lying carelessly on the roadside, much the same way night sleeps are disrupted across the state with endless sporadic shooting of automatic firearms through the night.
When our correspondent took an undercover trip to the mortuary of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri, it became obvious that the outrage in the city was justified.
The authorities of the FMC, Owerri naturally declined access to probing eyes, using the usual bureaucratic excuses. But in search of their missing wards, a number of persons were sighted at the morgue frantically trying to convince the mortuary attendants to allow them to check the corpses.
On arrival at the facility in company with a colleague, it was learnt that a Hilux truck that had just left the premises had just dropped off the bodies of young men, riddled with bullet wounds at the morgue.
One of the mortuary attendants turning people away from the mortuary, apparently frustrated by the situation, fumed that he did not need any distractions from people; that the mortuary was full and running over and he did not need more problem as that was enough problem for him to deal with. From where our correspondent was stopped, he could sight corpses littering the floor, waiting for the attendants to find space anyhow and tuck them away.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an official in one of the adjoining buildings close to the morgue, observed that most of the corpses being brought in on a near regular basis by security operatives were vividly riddled with bullet wounds.
Visibly disturbed by the development, he added that, “what happened last year during COVID-19, after the #EndSARS riots when we had to bury more than 120 corpses in a mass burial may happen again, if nothing is done urgently to put an end to these killings”.
He confided in our correspondent that, “on Tuesday June 1, about 18 corpses were also brought here; the day after was about seven, and there is almost no day that we do not receive dead bodies from these operatives.
The situation is alarming and it appears nobody is interested in taking action about this”. When contacted, the Public Relation officer of FMC, Owerri, Jessy Opara, said she was not aware of the development and would run a check and get back to our correspondent.
Condemning the situation, a former Chief of Staff to the Imo State Governor, Dr. Emeka Duru, tasked the Ohanaeze Ndigbo to be proactive and not wait for government before taking necessary actions.
He said: “The Ohanaeze leadership, which is headed by an Imo son should be proactive and not wait for the governor before taking necessary actions in this critical times. They should move to meet with the President and the Army top brass and then urge them to come and move the military out of Imo.
“In Zamfara, bandits are killing people in hundreds on a daily basis; the same for Katsina, Borno and Yobe but we do not see this size military operation in these areas and neither have those states been visited with this level of impunity. It is causing us avoidable collateral damages. So Ohanaeze should step up their game and take action instead of waiting for the state governor.”
If there was any doubt left about the killings and ugly situation in the state, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Dr. Anthony Obinna, erased it with his recent radio broadcast.
The cleric said: “Last year, exactly about this time, I charged Governor Hope Uzodinma and other Igbo leaders to protect our people and defend our lands.
That charge was provoked by threats and acts of invasion on our farmlands by Fulani herdsmen.
Now, our very lives are at stake as killings of Imo people are taking place in broad daylight and at nights by both officially and unofficially armed men. Imo people are on the run from known and unknown gunmen.” Obinna lamented that there was palpable fear in the air and anxiety on the ground.
He expressed worries that Imo people were hiding and living in fear while reports of indiscriminate arrests for no clear reason and killings as a show of power or in alleged retaliation continue to spread.
His statement continued: “On Wednesday the 26th May 2021, I personally went to the Federal Correctional Centre, Owerri, to see the 106 young men arrested from various locations, accused and charged to court jointly for planning to commit “a treasonable felony” (of conspiring to overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari and unseat Governor Hope Uzodinma).
They are yet to be released. “On Thursday the 3rd June 2021, I visited the Owerri Federal Medical Centre (FMC), mortuary.
As I painfully surveyed the 35 corpses, stark naked on the bare floor, stealthily dumped there within the last few days, victims of runaway killers, military, police and unknown gunmen, with no identification on them, I thought of many others who have been kidnapped, taken to unknown locations, killed and even butchered, as we continue to hear. Imo is bleeding!
“On behalf of the already killed and even more, on behalf of the living now threatened daily with brutal death, I charge Governor Hope Uzodinma as the Chief Security Officer for Imo people to step up and stop the killings by whoever is responsible for them.
I equally charge all users and abusers of guns and deadly weapons to stop the killings, to renounce violence and to denounce any show of pride in killing fellow human beings.”