Hope Uzodimma, governor of Imo State has explained why the Nigerian military raided Eke-Ututu Market in Orsu Local Government Area of the state on Saturday.
Soldiers had raided and burnt some shops in the market after materials for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were allegedly uncovered in the place.
Speaking on the development at the Government House in Owerri, on Wednesday, Uzodinma told newsmen that bandits operating in the area use the IEDs to fight security operatives.
The governor said the Nigerian Army on duty around Orsu Awo-Idemili died last month from an explosion from the device.
, “Last Saturday, a joint security force, which arrested a bandit, took him after his confession to guide them to where they operate from and manufacture the explosives,” he said. “It turned out to be Eke-Ututu Market.
“They discovered four shops where fertilisers, ammonium sulphate and electrical gadgets used in manufacturing explosives were packed.”
Uzodinma said the Captain, who led the operation, together with another officer, was currently lying critical at the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri.
The governor further said that the soldiers recovered all the weapons and fertilisers used by the bandits to manufacture IEDs.
He said, “In the process, they burnt down shops and this is consistent with our policy.
“However, they were so tactful that no innocent life was lost.
“They were able to destroy all the shops where the items were stored.”
Uzodinma expressed concern that rather than visit the scene to ascertain the true situation of the event, opposition candidates preferred to condemn the activities of security agencies.
The governor said that some were so brazen to blackmail the security agencies, questioning why they should go there at all.
He also added that traders were not allowed into the market “without paying taxes to unknown gunmen.”
“These are illegitimate taxes to enable people to open their shops.
“This is what we have been fighting all through,” Uzodinma said.
Uzodinma said that his administration would stop at nothing in the fight against terrorism, banditry, and kidnapping in the State.
He said, “It is not politics. It’s about the security of lives and property of our people.”
According to the governor, the State government will continue to support security agencies to work efficiently.
Uzodinma, who expressed regrets over the “collateral damage” suffered during the raid, promised to replace and rebuild the market.
“So, when Eke-Ututu Market is destroyed to give Imo peace, the Government will also rebuild it.
“If, in the process, there are innocent traders who lost their items, the Government will work out compensation for them.
“But the government has a responsibility to fight crime,” Uzodinma said.