Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has appealed to the Church in particular and members of the public at large not to swallow hook, line and sinker any information on social media without taking the pains to crosscheck their authenticity.
Governor Uzodimma spoke at the St. John Beloved Catholic Church at Umuna Ahu Uratta, Owerri on Sunday during a thanksgiving Service to mark one year of the death of Chief (Sir) Patrick Chukwuemeka Chikeka, husband of the Chief Judge of Imo State, Justice Theresa Chikeka.
The Governor specifically charged the leadership of the Church not to be deceived by misinformation flying around over the recent incident at Awo Omamma involving security operatives and some bad boys.
Governor Uzodimma who said that the Church must partner with the government to restore confidence in our larger society, further challenged the Church leadership to take seriously the activities of some desperate politicians in Imo State who work to destabilise the government, using false information on social media as tool of blackmail.
“When you see any story on the social media, please try and investigate it properly. Go further to do more investigation before criticising the security agencies so that they do not abandon us in the hands of non state actors.”
Throwing more light on the Awo Omamma incident, the Governor said those who died were victims of a shootout with security operatives (DSS) who acted on intelligence that the deceased were heading for a meeting at their Camp in Awo Omamma where they usually plan on how to enforce the Monday sit-at-home order in that part of Imo State.
His words: “My administration will never be part of the killing of my people.”
Governor Uzodimma who told the audience that he loaths blood letting as a true Catholic, said he had had to drop all strategies that would have made insecurity a thing of the past in Imo State, but for the “collateral damage” and consequently, blood shed that would follow the implementation.
He regretted that leaders in Imo State, among them – former governors, deputy governors, Senators, Secretary to Government, et al – have continued to keep mum over the insecurity challenge in Imo, leaving no one in doubt that either they are enjoying or sponsoring it.
He said, for instance, that he expected them to condemn the attack on his country home, the attack on the country home of the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof. George Obiozor, as well as the attacks on the homes of other government officials but they never did.
Besides, he said while such so-called leaders in Imo State have not seen the need to speak up on generous kidnapping activities, beheading of Imo citizens, killing of traditional rulers and the act of cannibalism associated with most of our youths involved in banditry, they are quick to embark on condolence visit at Awo Omamma without even making efforts to ascertain the true position of things.
The Governor regretfully recalled the harrowing experience the Auxiliary Bishop Chikwe went through in the hands of the bandits when they kidnapped him last year and took him to Oguta before he was released, noting that what happened to the Bishop is not what one ought to experience.
Governor Uzodimma reiterated that the primary reason government exists is the protection of lives and property of the citizenry, and that the worse thing that can happen to a society is if government abandons her responsibility to non state actors.
He explained: “There is no responsible government that would want to take life because the reason for government is to protect lives and property. There is also no responsible government that would encourage any act that would take human life, particularly innocent lives.
The Governor who urged the Church leadership to be painstaking in finding out the true position of things before taking a position said that through his actions and performance in the past two and half years, it is not in doubt that he has come to serve Imo people.
He challenged his opponents to point to what, where and how he has taken anything belonging to Imo people since assuming office, noting that “it is because they don’t have anything against me that they have decided to focus on my wrist watch as if they didn’t know who Hope Uzodimma was before he came into office.”
He also explained that it is to the credit of his regime that property belonging to Imo people which previous administration forcefully collected from them had been returned just as roads which a particular government that spent seven months and never bothered to deal with, are today wearing new looks.
Governor Uzodimma said though he is Chief Security Officer of Imo, he does not have total control of the security agencies working in the State to help government contain insecurity and restore peace in Imo.
Hear him: “I am not completely in charge of the security agencies in the State. I am only the Chief Security Officer by mouth, without a barrack.”
He then urged the Church leadership and all those relying on reports on social media to antagonize and blackmail security agencies working in Imo State to be wary of their actions because the people and the State may not be better off with non state actors if the conventional security operatives are withdrawn.
Earlier in his homily, the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Catholic Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev Dr Moses Chikwe urged the congregation to be prayerful and to devote their time to praying for the Governor and his government so that God will use them for the good of the society.
Bishop Chikwe thanked Governor Uzodimma for honouring the Chikekas and St. John Beloved Catholic Church with his presence and that of his top government officials.
St. John Beloved Catholic Church used the opportunity to solicit financial assistance from the guests for the completion of their Church building with Governor Uzodimma making a personal donation of N10 million while the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu gave N3 million on behalf of the Imo State Government.
The Deputy Governor, Prof Placid Njoku, the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Kennedy Ibe, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Barr Nnamdi Anyaehie, among other top officials from the federal and state governments attended the event.