Imo 2023: Renewed Attacks On Opposition Lawmakers, Others Stoke Fear Of Violent Governorship Election
Renewed attacks on political opponents of the Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma, have led to apprehension ahead of the November Governorship election in the state.
Attacks on opposition lawmakers have heightened in the last six months, spreading fear across the state that the election date may no longer be realistic unless the violence stops.
Opposition to Governor Uzodimma of the All Progressives Congress, APC has been rife following the manner in which he assumed office as governor in 2020.
The former Senator had emerged fourth during the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state, which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, announced was won by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Emeka Ihedioha.
The Supreme Court however unseated Ihedioha, who was a deputy Speaker in the Federal House of Representatives, in January 2020 and gave the judgment in favour of Uzodimma.
INEC had announced that Ihedioha polled 273,404 ahead of his closest rival and candidate of the Action Alliance, Uche Nwosu, who the electoral body said scored 190,364 votes.
INEC also announced that the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Ifeanyi Ararume, came third with 114, 676 votes while Uzodimma polled 96,458 votes.
The unanimous judgement by a seven-man panel of justices led by then Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, and delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun said results from 388 polling units were unlawfully excluded from the overall collated results.
Consequently, it noted that results from the cancelled polling units amounted to 213, 295 votes and that it was wrong to have returned Ihedioha based on the wrong computation of results.
It then announced Uzodimma as the beneficiary of the votes from the 388.
The governor has since then faced criticisms and dissent to his leadership with a number of his political appointees and associates facing attacks.
On many counts, there have been repeated reprisal attacks on some actors perceived to be rivals to the governor as the orgy of violence persists.
These attacks on some political actors in the state have increased the spectre of violence that may trail the November governorship election.
Last Tuesday, some hoodlums were said to have set ablaze the Imo State home of Jerry Alagbaoso, a former federal lawmaker, who represented Orsu/Orlu/Oru-East Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives under the platform of the PDP.
The former lawmaker failed in 2022 to clinch the PDP ticket to contest the senatorial election of 2023 and in May 2023 defected to the APC ahead of the governorship election.
In February, hoodlums burnt the home of the lawmaker representing Orlu State Constituency at the Imo State House of Assembly, Paschal Okolie.
It was reported that Okolie’s house at Umudura Akwakuma in Okporo community was invaded around 1 am on Sunday and set ablaze.
Before then, gunmen reportedly burnt the country home of Ekene Nnodimele, the lawmaker representing Orsu State House Constituency in the Imo state house of Assembly.
The same day, not far from the lawmaker’s house, hoodlums also reportedly razed the house of the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the State, Barr. C.O. C Akaolisa, at Awo-Idemili before he retired.
The latest attack on Alagbaoso bears the hallmark of political rivalry following his defection.
The hoodlums reportedly “removed the windows and doors of the building and forcefully entered inside the building and looted some properties.
“When they searched and didn’t see him, they set the house ablaze,” an eyewitness recounted.
The police spokesperson in Imo State, Henry Okoye, an assistant superintendent, confirmed the latest attack saying, “Optimal Security Operatives of the Joint task force have been deployed in Orsu to prevent similar occurrences.
“Certainly, we will apprehend the hoodlums that are involved and they will be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
INEC offices too have not been spared in the state. Its offices in Isu, Oru, and Owerri among others have been burnt in what the commission said were four attacks in three weeks.
INEC, which will conduct the election, has called on political actors to rein in their supporters.
The continued stacks have raised the state of fear and apprehension as the November 11 election draws closer.