Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma has explained why the EkeUtutu Market in Orsuihitteukwa in Orsu Local Government Area of the state was razed down.
According to him, security personnel discovered it to be a safe haven for the production of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by bandits and other criminal elements.
Addressing a news conference on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 at Government House Owerri the governor called on citizens who have information that could lead to where bandits are hiding or operating within the state to avail it to government in the interest of all.
Governor Uzodimma said security report revealed that Eke Ututu was turned into a hiding place for bandits and kidnappers who, not only compelled the traders to pay taxes to them before they could open their shops for business, but also used the market to manufacture IEDs.
According to the governor, report indicated that an Army Major working in the state died from an IED planted at Eke Ututu on stepping on the explosive unknowingly.
He informed that a bandit arrested at their camp at Orsu Ihitte Ukwa gave the military hint about their mode of operation within the vicinity, including where they maintain shops for fertiliser and other gadgets at Eke Ututu where they manufacture the IEDs.
He disclosed that on the day the soldiers went to the market with the arrested bandit, the captain who led the team also mistakenly stepped on an IED that was hidden at the place and was badly injured resulting in his admission at the intensive care unit of the Federal Medical Centre Owerri.
The governor said the Armed Forces, angered by these developments, particularly the loss of their senior officer and the wounding of another, authorized a combined operation involving their men from Imo and Anambra states at Orsu Ihitte Ukwa.
The governor said that it was in the process that the security agencies razed the market.
He emphasized that his government will stop at nothing in the fight against terrorism, banditry and kidnapping in Imo State.
Uzodimma said; “This is not politics, it is about the security of lives and property of our people. And anybody who wants to play politics with this should be ready to face history that will judge all of us.”
He regretted that the Peoples Democratic Party has been trying to make a political capital of the incident, howbeit ignorant of what transpired, noting that it is not in doubt they have a hand in the spate of banditry, kidnapping and other forms of criminality in Imo State.
The governor said from the behaviour of the PDP members in Imo State they want to frustrate the conduct of elections in Imo State.
Governor Uzodimma vowed to continue to support the security agencies to do their work, notwithstanding the collateral damage that may go with it.