Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, on Tuesday, justified the recent military invasion of Orlu District in Orlu Local Government Area of his state despite the criticisms that trailed the operation, saying the measure was meant to deal with suspected criminals.

He said he sought the intervention of the Federal Government to tackle security challenges in the area and the intervention came in form of deployment of more policemen and soldiers.

Uzodinma spoke in an interview with State House correspondents shortly after a meeting he had with the President, Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

A reporter had sought to know why the governor decided to unleash the military on his people at a time his counterparts in the Northern part of the country are negotiating with bandits to resolve their security challenges.

The governor responded, “On the issue of bringing the military to Imo State, you will recall that during the EndSARS protests, a lot of properties were damaged in the state; police stations were burnt down, soldiers were killed, their rifles removed from them.

“Immediately after the EndSARS, we thought it was over. Then, issues of kidnapping came up. A Catholic bishop was kidnapped. And these militants came out and started shooting. We have lost lives; market women were killed; old women were raped in Orlu area of Imo state and they visited this serious terror on the citizenry.

“Then, I came here and pleaded with Mr President for his support and he sent additional support by sending in police and the military. That is where we are. It was at my invitation that the military came.

“I did that because I know the situation was beyond the local arrangement, we needed help. And the help was given to us. As I speak to you, the situation has come down to normal. People are now going about their business.

“Those caught will soon be charged to court. And all those military rifles from the army, the police, AK 47, and so on, were recovered by the people that came. We as a government have the responsibility to protect lives. And while we have the Nigerian Army, Nigerian police, and security challenges, we invite them to go to work.”

Uzodinma said as the governor of the state, he has the responsibility to protect the lives of his people.

He ruled out the possibility of negotiating with criminals in his state.

“The Federal Government may be negotiating with the Boko Haram, but God knows that if I have the opportunity to see any man who is taking lives, I will confront the person head on. That is why we are government,” he said.

The Governor also said the purpose of his latest meeting with the President was to inform him
about the progress on the effort to tackle insecurity.

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