Calm and normalcy returned to Owerri on Sunday after the tension genersted by Saturday’s attack on Gov. Hope Uzodinma’s country home in Omuma, Oru East Local Government Area of Imo.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the news of the attack and speculations about the masterminds sparked off panic among residents of the capital city and other parts of the state.
But the atmosphere on Sunday was peaceful as residents went about their activities, without the fear of any molestation or attack.
Churches, markets and some business centres were open, while commercial vehicle operators were on the road conveying commuters.
However, security reports indicate that human and vehicular movement within Omuma area was still restricted with security personnel keeping “water-tight” surveillance in the council area.
Meanwhile, some groups, church leaders and party chieftains have continued to react to the incident, saying the spate of insecurity in Imo and other states of the South-East was beginning to assume an alarming proportion.
Speaking in separate interviews with NAN on Sunday, they said the incident further heightened the fear about the growing insecurity in the state.
The Chairman of Imo Chapter of Pentecostal Association Worldwide, Rev. Clement Izuchukwu, described the attack as condemnable and an afront on the government.
Izuchukwu, therefore, charged the state and federal governments to spare no efforts to track down sponsors of the militia group that had continued to cause mayhem in the southseast.
He also urged the police and other security agencies to rise to the challenge, saying that the increasing insecurity in the zone, especially Imo, was becoming unbearable.
Also, a Civil Society Group, known as South-East Watch for Good Governance, decried the attack and killing of innocent security operatives attached to the house.
The Founder of the group, Mr Evans Anyawu, expressed deep sadness over the killing of innocent security guards by the attackers.
“We are very sad over the recent developments in the southeast states.
“The zone has been known for peace but some group of militiamen appear to have risen in the area, making it unsafe for all.
“This trend of insecurity will never be tolerated in the zone. We will all deploy our arsenal to fight it to a standstill,” he said.
Anyanwu feared that the attack might be politically motivated and aimed at distracting the governor.
He, therefore, encouraged the governor to remain focussed and not distracted by the development.
The Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) also lent its voice to condemn the attack, describing it as “barbaric and unwarranted”.
In a statement jointly signed by its President and Secretary, Mr Goodluck Ibem and Kanice Igwe, and issued to NAN on Sunday, the group urged southeast youths to boldly challenge the emerging phenomenon in the zone.
The statement read in part, “COSEYL, the apex socio-political youth organization in the South East geopolitical zone condemns in strongest term, the vicious attack on Uzodinma’s house.
“The attack by gunmen wearing black-and-black, which led to the untimely death of security operatives guarding the governor’s house, is wicked and barbaric.
“It is purely the handiwork of aggrieved politicians who are not happy with the governor’s stance against corruption.
“The series of attacks in recent times in the state by gunmen took place around between midnight and 2am and no live was lost.
“But in this case, the attackers came in broad daylight to kill and set the governor’s house ablaze.
“The attackers and their sponsors want everyone to know their true identify and we demand the security agencies to immediately move into action and arrest those involved.
A chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Imo, Mr Francis Eze, said the identity of the sponsors of the militia group would soon be unveiled.
Eze, a former Owerri West APC Chairman, alleged that the attack was politically motivated.
“Imo government must dig deep to find out the route of the attack.
“We are no longer comfortable with the trend of attacks in Imo but I assure you that this may be their last,” he said.
NAN recalls that a group of unidentified gunmen torched the governor’s house, killing three security guards.
Police said the assailants carried out the attack with rocket launcher.
The incident, which caused tension and fear among residents of the state, brought to eight the number of similar attacks in Imo, from January to date.
The affected facilities included Police Divisional Stations at Ehime-Mbano, Isiala-Mbano, Obowo and Aboh-Mbaise.
Others were those at Ihite-Uboma and Mbaitoli as well as the Police Headquarters, Owerri, Imo Correctional Centre, Owerri and the governor’s house.