By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
All is not well in Imo state in general and the capital city of Owerri in particular as residents now have their hearts in their mouths each passing hour following the spate of insecurity in the state.
Also, some residents have described the pandemonium which broke out in Owerri and its environs on Monday over alleged sporadic shooting by gunmen enforcing sit-at-home order of Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) in the state as one too many.
The peace of the once quiet city of Owerri was breached on Monday morning as sporadic shootings were heard at many parts of the capital city which resulted to people scampering for safety.
The pandemonium which caught residents of the city unawares happened around 10 a.m and led to hasty closure of markets, shops, schools, banks, hotels and other sensitive institutions except the Imo State Secretariat along Port Harcourt road in Owerri.
The shooting of guns which were more around Owerri-Onitsha and Aba-Owerri road respectively resulted to vehicles, okada riders and barrow pushers quickly disappearing from the roads and streets.
Both commuters and roadside traders also took to their heels while business owners scampered for safety just as parents abandoned their offices and business premises in search of their children in the various schools within Owerri.
However, in spite of the resistance of by the management of some schools, parents still withdrew their children even as the heavy security presence in Owerri did not stop commercial vehicles including the government-owned Imo Transport Company (ITC) from withdrawing their services on the day.
Expectedly, the scarcity of commercial vehicles left many passengers stranded, causing confusion and hardship on passengers who trekked long distances to get to their destinations.
Meanwhile, multiple sources told Prompt News that apart from the IPOB’s alleged connection to the pandemonium, there were allegations by some residents against some overzealous officials of the state-owned Environmental Transformation Commission (ENTRACO).
They were alleged to have embarked on aggressive demolition of some structures on the Owerri-Onitsha road, World Bank Estate and Control Post leading to Port Harcourt road which was said did not go down well with the owners of such demolished structures.
Prompt News gathered that the fight that ensued between the officials of ENTRACO owners of the demolished businesses resulted to the stampede which later spread to other parts of Owerri metropolis and triggered confusion.
Although the Police Public Relations Officer of Imo State Police Command, Michael Abatham (CSP), who reacted to the incidents had blamed it on mere rumour and hallucination by those intent to course confusion in the state, some residents said they are tired of running for their dear lives everyday in Imo state.
A resident of Orji Area of Owerri capitalcity who pleaded anonymity said insecurity has festered for a long time in Imo state and called for a solution by both state and federal governments to tackle it headlong.
“We now leave in fears in Imo state especially in Owerri as no day passes without hearing of intimidations and killings by both state and none state actors.
“Now, it has degenerated to the point of people using the confusion to brand their enemies either IPOB or Federal Government sympathizers in order to have them eliminated”, the resident alleged.