HURIWA blames Uzodinma administration for Owerri Catholic Bishop kidnap, demands unconditional release

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Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has condemned the violent kidnap by armed men of the newly installed Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Roman Catholic Archdiocese, His Eminence, Rt. Revd. Dr. Moses Chikwe, in Owerri, the Imo State capital. 

The rights group said the situation in Owerri and the entire state calls for deeper introspection as the state’s political leadership is rudderless and ruthlessly incompetent. 

It also lamented that the State House of Assembly “seems to be dominated by political nitwits and praise-singers of the poorly performing governor of Imo State, Mr. Hope Uzodinma, who uses media propaganda and subterfuge as methodologies of governance which are not workable in a constitutional democracy.” 

The rights group said the Bishop must be released unscathed and unconditionally while describing those who kidnapped the Bishop “as agents of destabilization who seek for war of the religions,” noting that this provocation by these terrorists must be quickly brought to an end and the man of God released unharmed. 

HURIWA said the criminal and treacherous act of forcefully abducting the revered Church leader by armed kidnappers has demonstrated that indeed the decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to impose as governor someone who came fourth in an election as the governor of Imo State in 2019 was targeted at destroying good governance in the heartland of Igbo land and is “a calculated and choreographed drama” from the topmost echelons of the central government to deny the Igbo speaking areas the opportunity to determine who governs them. 

“The entire Imo State is in a state of political and economic paralysis just as there is a total absence of any semblance of governance. What is on ground is a rule by mobsters and has been converted to a place where raw might is right and has progressively become a primitive state of nature whereby life is short, brutish, uninteresting, deadly and bloody. 

“If nothing is done pretty soon, the violent criminals will up their deadly game and turn Imo State to a Kingdom of armed non-state actors and robbers, HURIWA observed. 

The rights group said the cases of violent kidnappings have resurfaced in Imo State “since the emergence of Mr. Uzodinma who rose on the back of a very toxic and dangerous verdict of the Supreme Court headed by the “incompetent and highly partisan” Justice Tanko Muhammad.” 

It called for the dismissal of the Commissioner of Police in the State, the State Director of Department of States Services (DSS) and the State Commandant of the Civil Defence Force for their abysmal performance in the area of securing the lives and property of the good people of Imo State. 

The rights group, which wondered what nature of Security Council is in place in the state when most of those manning the security offices are strangers who are simply there for posting but are not used to the terrain and topography of the state and never bothered to learn and improve themselves with hard core intelligence on how to rid the state of dangerous criminals who are running riots all over the state that looks like no man’s land. 

HURIWA said the Police in Imo State are not present in about 75 percent of the geographical areas of the State but are found on the Okigwe to Owerri badly damaged Federal Highway and the Owerri to Orlu state-owned road or the Owerri to Onitsha highway where they engage in violent and threatening extortion of commuters and drivers who ply the terribly destroyed Federal Government owned national road infrastructures in Imo State. 

“The reason there is total breakdown of law and order in Imo State is that the person who ought to be in-charge as the political leader of the State is too busy chasing shadows and engaging in shadow boxing with his political rivals such as his party man, the Senator representing the governor’s constituency in the National Assembly, Mr. Rochas Okorocha whose eight years governance of the State totally decapitated her social amenities and left the state in a state of near-comatose which has been worsened by the coming of Uzodinma who was imposed when the Supreme Court illegally unseated Emeka Ihedioha popularly believed to have won the 2019 governorship poll. 

Recall that armed men reportedly whisked away the Bishop in Owerri, the state capital on Sunday night alongside his driver whose name was not stated. 

The bishop’s car and official regalia were later found near the Assumpta Cathedral in Owerri. 

The kidnap comes barely a week after the kidnap in the state of another Catholic cleric, Valentine Ezeagu, who was kidnapped on December 15 by gunmen as he was on his way to bury his late father. The priest was later released by his kidnappers.

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