Palpable fear and uneasy calm is gradually enveloping in Imo state following the unprecedented increase in the number of Nigerians and Northerners in the state.
It would be recalled that the PDP in Imo state had at a press briefing few weeks ago raised alarm about possible Boko Haram in Imo when it alleged that people from the Northern part of the country where activities of Boko Haram is dominant were being trained at the state government built ICAPS complex on Egbu road Owerri. Later discoveries indicate that youths from a particular Northern state were undergoing training at ICAPS. The trainees were later sent back to the respective state by concerned authorities in Imo.
However, heavy presence of Nigerians believed to be from the Northern part of the country is being noticed in the state capital especially in Owerri and other developed towns of Orlu, Okigwe Mgbidi, Ahiara junction and Nwaoriebu.
Our reporters who have been monitoring the developments since the beginning of the year, noticed that major corners in the state capital like Douglas/Mbaise Roads, and Ama JK are witnessing beehive of activities swelled by the presence of the foreigners who have turned to itinerant artisans and craftsmen. Apart from textile and petty trading, some of them are involved in cobbler and roadside merchandising.
Trumpeta visit to Ama Hausa, abode for Northerners showed that the quarters have been over filled with people from the Hausa Fulani speaking states and foreigners with little or no space to operate. Same applies to major areas in the state capital where uncompleted buildings and shanties have turned to places of abode for these foreigners and Northerners alike.
The reasons for the influx of foreigners and Northerners could not be ascertained as to press time but reports have it that if might not be unconnected with inclement security conditions in the Northern parts of the country. It was gathered that the heavy military presence coupled with exercises of soldiers searching for Boko Haram suspects sent many Northerners and foreigners from the sect’s infested areas to terror-free zones to avoid either been caught in cross fire or nabbed by the soldiers.
However, their presence has not gone down well with residents of the state who are scared and expressing misgivings over the influx of non indigenes from the North. Apparently aware of the Boko Haram scare in Southern states like Lagos and Rivers state occasioned by heavy presence of Northerners and foreigners, Imo residents are experiencing uneasy calm, palpable fear and tension.
Some residents, who spoke to our reporter on the increasing presence of foreigners and Northerners on Owerri streets, noted that it is a dangerous trend security agencies should delve into, adding that proactive measures must be instituted to check any action likely to cause insurgence in the state.
By peter uzoma