By ISMAILA CHAFE
ABUJA- Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo says the State Government will not allow its citizens to acquire weapons for self-protection, saying security agencies should be allowed to perform their duties.
The governor made his position known to State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the State House, Abuja, on Tuesday.
Uzodinma, who was reacting to recent call by Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara that his citizens should apply for guns for self-protection, said there was no need for such actions in Imo.
He said: “The situation in Imo is not the same with that in Zamfara State.
“However, on the Governor’s call for individuals to apply for licences, I think the authorities will only give licenses to a qualified and a legible candidate.
“But I don’t think there is a need for individuals or unauthorized people to carry arms.
“The situation in Imo State is currently being managed and we have seen relative peace for the past weeks in Imo and normal businesses have incrementally resumed in Imo State.
“I am not in Zamfara State to know the situation there but I don’t think that the security situation in Zamfara State or any other part of the country is beyond our security agencies.
“In Imo State, the security agencies have risen to the occasion, they are working in synergy and the situation has been controlled to a barest minimum.” he added.
The governor also used the opportunity to condemn recent attacks on Churches and the kidnapping of some clergymen.
“Regrettably, of recent, some Catholic Priests became victims of the banditry saga in Nigeria. It is an unfortunate incident and condemnable.
“It is not as if other people being killed are not important but we detest any form of violence or taking of lives.
“The Church condemns that and Islam is also against that, likewise our local traditions,’’ he said.
Uzodinma called on security agencies to do everything humanly possible to fish out those behind these ungodly and wicked acts for prosecution accordingly.
The governor revealed that he was in the Presidential Villa to update the president on security situation in Imo as well as thank him for allowing the State to host the 2022 Nigerian Army Day celebration, saying “this is a good omen for residents of the State’’.
According to Uzodinma, the hosting of the event will help address the security challenges the State is passing through.
“Basically I came to see the President to thank him for his gracious approval for Army Day celebrations to be held in Owerri, Imo State, South-East of the country. That of course you know will help strengthen the measures that are already on ground to curtail the effects and excesses of banditry and insecurity in the region.
“So for me it is a good thing and for the people of Imo State, we are indeed very delighted over that.
“Basically that is why I am here and the President is also very comfortable with the visit.”
The governor reiterated his earlier call on bandits and trouble makers in the State to surrender or be dealt with.
“Only two days ago I called on the criminal gangs operating in any part of Imo State; the unknown gunmen, bandits who are hiding one way or the other in our forests and the bush to come out.
“I granted a 10-day period during which if they lay down their arms, we will grant them pardon. As of this morning, I am told that some people are already surrendering their arms and it is a good development,” he said.
Commenting on the general security of the South-East, the governor said all the Governors in the region had been working in synergy to address the problem, adding that the sit at home order issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), was not effective in Imo State.
“We the Governors in the South-East are all working to ensure that security is guaranteed, for people to go about their businesses.
“The sit at home order is not operational in Imo State neither is it working in Owerri, the State capital.
“Really, it is still in operation in some parts of the South-East but the governors are also working in synergy to ensure that it becomes a thing of the past,” he assured. (NAN)