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Army, other Security agencies begin Operation Show of Force in Imo
The police, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force, the Nigeria Immigration Services, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Department of State Services on Monday literally took over Owerri, the Imo State capital as Operation Show of Force commenced for the Christmas period.
Wielding guns, personnel of the security agencies positioned themselves at major junctions and locations in the state capital, while others patrolled the metropolis.
The intimidating presence of the security men elicited fear among residents, even as many thought that the military had started another Operation Python Dance in the South-East.
However, the Imo People Action for Democracy (IPAD) claimed that the exercise was orchestrated to disrupt their planned one-week-long protest tagged, ‘Occupy Imo,’ which was to commence on Monday.
The protest was meant to express displeasure at what was described as bad governance in the state.
The spokesperson for IPAD, Chilos Godsent, in a press statement on Monday, said the state Governor, Rochas Okorocha, allegedly used the security agencies to clamp down on the protesters.
“The Operation Show of Force was launched to forcefully disperse and maim members of the ‘Occupy Imo’ peaceful rally,” Godsent said.
But the state Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, told our correspondent on the telephone that the exercise was purely for safeguarding of lives and property.
Ezike said the joint exercise by all the security agencies was to assure the “Imo residents and those who will be coming home for the festive period that the police and all the security agencies are capable of providing security during and after the festivities.”
He said, “We are going round the town to assure the people that we are capable of protecting them. We are equally identifying flash points and traffic points. Our aim is to ensure that people enjoy the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
“I had a meeting with the members of Imo People Action for Democracy in my office and we agreed that the rally should not hold during this festive period. Imo people have a right to enjoy the Yuletide period. They should reapply from January 10 for a reconsideration.”