Imo’s Gov. Hope Uzodinma on Tuesday called for a peaceful resolution of the crisis that engulfed Izombe community in Oguta Local Government Area of the state last Friday.
Youths of the community collecting toll from oil thieves had an altercation between themselves and soldiers moved into the community to quell the crisis.
In the process, two soldiers and a member of the community were killed; houses, vehicles and crops were destroyed.
Gov. Uzodinma who visited Izombe on Tuesday directed the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission to send relief materials to the area to cushion the effect of the destruction.
Uzodinma expressed shock at the level of destruction inflicted on the community and charged the warring parties to maintain the peace.
He said that a situation where criminal youths took over affairs of a community and became uncontrollable was detrimental to peace.
He expressed regret at the loss of lives and the destruction of the community and appealed to Izombe community and the army to sheathe their swords.
“Where is the problem coming from? Where did Izombe people get it wrong? Who are these youths painting Izombe black? Where are their parents? Where are the leaders of Izombe,’’? Uzodinma queried in a staccato.
“Izombe must be peaceful. Imo must be peaceful to attract development and prosperity. Nigeria must be peaceful.
“Government will set up a committee to look at the level of destruction, its impact on the people and community and find a way to assist them,’’ he assured.
An Izombe community leader, retired Gen. Kalu Egwuagu, said the governor’s visit was “a soothing-balm on the wound being nursed by both Izombe people and the military’’.
He said the circumstances surrounding last weekend’s mayhem were quite unfortunate and thanked the Commandant, 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze, in Owerri, Brig.-Gen. Raymond Utsaha, for “his listening ear’’.
He said Utsaha’s handling of the crisis halted continued destruction in the community.
In his remarks, the traditional Prime Minister of Aborshi in Izombe, Chief Obilor Ukachukwu, thanked the governor for the visit and said it would go a long way in assuaging the pains of the people.
The governor was accompanied on the visit by his deputy, Prof. Placid Njoku and his Chief of Staff, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie.
Others in the entourage were members of the state’s House of Assembly, members of the State Executive Council, and all members of the State Security Council. (NAN)