Gun violence, targeted killings caused over 100 fatalities in Imo between Jan. 2022 – April 2023… Report

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A recent report by Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND), a leading development organisation in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region has given insights into the character of conflicts in Imo state between January 2022 and April 2023 NEGROIDHAVEN can report.

In a recent report titled, ‘Spotlighting Rising Gun Violence and Targeted Killings in Imo State’, PIND focused its searchlight on what she referred to as the major drivers of insecurity in Imo. According to her, three features characterises this majority factor, namely, gun violence, targeted killings of residents and killing of government security personnel.

The report noted that gun violence and targeted killings accounted for for over a hundred fatalities in the state between the time under review. These killings have been reported to take the lives of police officers, traditional rulers, and politicians (including a former state governor) etc.

Ngor-Okpala, Oguta, Oru East, and Okigwe LGAs are grossly affected, While the following communities were highlighted in the report Okpala, Izombe, Mgbele, and Awomama were alleged to have been seriously affected by the trend.

The report reads in part, ‘Gun violence and targeted killing of residents including government security personnel are major drivers of insecurity in Imo State.

‘According to data, gun violence and targeted killings caused over 100 fatalities in the State between January 2022 and April 2023. Recent data shows the growing prevalence of gun violence and targeted killings in the State. In April 2023, for instance, five police officers and a couple were allegedly killed by gunmen in Okpala community, Ngor-Okpala LGA. In May, two community leaders were reportedly killed by gunmen in Izombe and Mgbele communities, Oguta LGA. In June, a chieftain of a major political party was reportedly killed by gunmen on his way from a meeting in Awomama community, Oru East LGA.

‘More recently, on June 16, 2023, gunmen suspected to be assassins reportedly attacked the convoy of a former governor of Imo State and killed a police officer along the Okigwe-Enugu Expressway in Ihube community, Okigwe LGA.’

The report further noted that the current ugly trend of gun violence and targeted killings has the tendency to escalate and worsen insecurity in Imo, particularly given the context of separatist agitation and rising political tensions in the lead up to the November 2023 governorship election in the state

‘This could cause a breakdown of law and order which could result in unrest, hooliganism, vigilante justice, arbitrary killings and the deployment of repressive measures by government security forces. This could bring about serious socio-economic, political and security consequences’, the report noted.