New Telegraph

Security agencies liable for Imo killings –Rep Eke

Hon. Bede Uchenna Eke represents Aboh Mbaise/ Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency of Imo State in the House of Representatives on the platform of PDP. In this interview, he speaks on the deteriorating security situation in his constituency and the state in the wake of the murder of a presidential aide, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak. PHILIP NYAM produced the excerpt


What is the state of insecurity in your constituency and Imo state generally?


There is need for me to let the people know what is happening in Imo State and my constituency particularly. Before now, you know my stand about insecurity and how as a member of the House of Representatives and member of the House Ad hoc committee on purchase of arms.

You know what we have done to make sure that the government supports the military and the police so that they can curtail what is going on in this country. But recently in Imo state, there have been so many security challenges. And I want to tell you that we have had casualties.

Some of my constituents have been killed and we expect the police and army to unravel the killers of these people.


These are innocent citizens. I am aware that the family of one of my constituents, Noel Nzeribe Chukwu, has written a petition to the Nigerian Army. We lost a young man who until his death owned a Shawarma shop just to make ends meet. He was shot by the Army; the reason was that he could not obey the rule at the checkpoint. The family has written to the Army.


But we as people of Aboh Mbaise/ Ngor Okpala are not happy about this. As the representative of my people, I want to make it known to the world that we are waiting for the outcome of the petition.


And I am given the Nigerian Army 14 days to respond to the killing of this gentleman who left behind a pregnant and expectant wife and two children- three and one year old. What will become of these children including the unborn?


The late Special Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Barr. Ahmed Gulak was said to have been killed in Ngor Okpala, your constituency and you are now complaining of your people being killed


I want to draw the attention of the world to the fact that because we gave our land to the government to build airport does not make us criminals. May the soul of Ahmed Gulak rest in perfect peace. He was killed on his way to the airport. But the police have told us that they have killed the people that murdered Gulak and the state government has come out to say that the killing was politically-motivated.

These are two conflicting statements. One alleged that ESN killed Gulak and those who killed him have been killed. We saw pictures, but the governor came out to say some people trailed him to the airport from the hotel in Owerri where he lodged. The question I am asking the security agencies is why are they still after my people?

What crime have they committed? That Gulak was shot close to the airport and we host the airport, does that mean we are killers of Gulak? The answer is no, we are not killers! But if anything happens on our land, the police should take their time, investigate and unravel the perpetrators of the crime.


I have pictures and videos of people being killed. Our people can no longer sleep in their houses. People now call me from the bush to say, “Honourable, please, speak for us”.


The world should hold the security agencies responsible the killing of my people. There is nothing wrong in investigating, arresting people and unraveling the sponsors of this heinous crime but the issue is let the innocent people be free. Freedom of movement is enshrined in the Constitution.


I have pictures where the military went to my constituency in Enyiogugu, destroyed shops owned by my constituents and carted away their goods. What crime did we commit? Gulak left Owerri for the airport, so if you want to arrest suspects, you should start from the hotel in Owerri. I can no longer keep quiet.


These people elected me to speak for them. Please, I beg the security agencies to allow my people to live in peace. If the police have made some arrests, and have some killed because of this crime, why are they still haunting my constituents? I came out and condemned the killers of Gulak.


He was a true Nigerian to have left his comfort zone to our place- that’s exhibiting one nation, one country. But if the police are still investigating, they said they have killed the killers and the government has said it was politically-motivated; let them leave my people alone. I have pictures and videos of an Okada operator that was shot. What did we do wrong?


We have been keeping mute, we gave our land to the Nigeria Air Force, and we know how that land was taken. My people wanted to make trouble but we said no. As I talk to you, there is no MOU with the owners of the land. In the 8th House of Representatives, the host communities of Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport brought a petition.

The House resolved and mandated all agencies working in that airport to have an MOU with them and protect them using corporate social responsibility and give them what is due to them. But up till now, nothing has happened.


They came up with another petition to remind the House that these agencies have ignored the resolution of the House. So, I don’t know why they are coming after us. The other day it was the Navy because where the Navy is, is the boundary between us and Abia State. Our youths were killed.


On the heels of the killing of Gulak, President Muhammadu Buhari made a pronouncement that he will shock the perpetrators and give them the war treatment. Twitter deleted the message and people have been criticizing the President. Are you worried over this threat?


I am worried because they tend to term all of us from the region as criminals and this is what we can’t take. If they descend on the ESN or the so called liberators- people who are said to be destroying government properties, it is the duty of government to protect lives and property, but tagging everybody from the South-East as a criminal is wrong.


We can’t accept that. If you go to the North-East, they are also killing our military and police officers. Do we tag all of them from that region as criminals? I have not heard of any complaint that the military is killing innocent citizens there. We know the military is facing Boko Haram squarely, but why is our own different? It calls for worry and I am concerned.


There are reports of massive deployment of military into Imo State. Can you confirm this? And how many people have been killed or displaced by the latest actions you’re talking about?


It is a known fact that the whole place has been militarised. There is military presence everywhere in the east. I don’t have a problem with it because the duty of the security agencies is to protect all of us. But my worry is why should they be killing innocent people?


The police and even the military are supposed to be our friends. How do you get information from people when you begin to kill innocent people? We have the DSS, and it is the people in the locality that give them information, but when you arrest them and never allow them to return to their families, where will you get information?


All the communities- Enyiogugu, Ohagara, there are about five communities in my constituency where people cannot come out. It is a very serious situation and I do not know how long it will last.


The National Assembly caucus from the South-East issued a statement last week concerning the state of insecurity in the region. Apart from this, have you people reached out to the President? Or how have you collaborated with your colleagues from other regions to see how best to resolve this problem?


I can tell you that the leadership of the South-East caucus is working very hard to see how this could be resolved because nobody is happy with what is happening in our region. We are doing everything possible for peace to return to our region. I am not happy because I am not safe too.


And if the place is not safe, I can’t travel and meet with my constituents. I can’t have access to my house and we are genuinely concerned.


You seem to contradict your governor. You said your people are being killed for the sin they never committed. Were you aware Gulak was in your constituency?


Gulak was never in my constituency. And I didn’t contradict my governor. What I said is that the police showed us pictures that the killers of Gulak- that ESN or IPOB members who killed Gulak have been killed. Some days after that, the governor addressed Imo people and said it was a politically motivated killing. These two can’t go together.


But what we are saying is that you can’t be killing my people because we are host to the airport. If you have killed the killers, why are you still going after innocent people? If it is politically motivated, are we part of it?


There are also reports in some quarters that the killings and destructions are perpetrated by outsiders and not people from the east, just as IPOB has denied involvement in the killing of Gulak. As the representative of the area, what do you know about the killings?


I don’t know anything about the killings. Let the security agencies investigate and know those doing this. But if you say the killers are outsiders, then they should leave my constituents alone.


And for those who have been killed by security agents, let justice be done in their case. I want my people to live happily with their families. Some analysts have blamed the elite in the south east for not speaking out on time since the killing of security men and attack on government facilities began in the region. They said it was only after the president’s threat that you people started coming out.


Why were you people silent for so long? I disagree with anybody that say elites or leaders from the South-East did not speak out. Nobody and indeed no leader will applaud criminality and the destruction of government properties.


The burning of INEC offices and police stations is unfortunate and is condemnable because when you destroy police facilities and kill them, who will protect us again? We have been condemning this and we are saying go after criminals and leave innocent people alone. There is a judicial maxim that says, ‘it is better to free 1000 criminals than convict an innocent man’. Why are they now killing innocent people? Let them go after criminals. That is my appeal.

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