Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, on Tuesday, said he could not fight back tears seeing dead bodies and burnt houses during his visit to Izombe community in the Oguta local government area of the state.
He thereafter asked God to punish those behind the tragic incident that has left the community in a state of gloom since last Friday.
Uzodinma was in the community to see the damage caused by a recent clash between the military and a group led by a suspected Owerri prison escapee, whose name was given as Obele.
The incident led to the dead of Obele and two military officers.
The governor was in tears as he moved round the community.
He, however, promised to constitute a committee to commence the process of assisting in rebuilding houses damaged in the course of the violence.
Vanguard reports that he also gave youths in the area seven days to disarm.
He said, “I am shedding tears. I am shedding tears because the properties of my brothers and sisters suffered to built were burnt. I would not have been a Senator without the kind of support I got from Izombe.
“I take Izombe as Omuma, my home town. It is painful all our sufferings, struggle and God answered our prayer. It brought us blessings. Instead of us continuing to see blessings we are seeing obstacles. God will punish those behind all these things happening.
“Why we gave birth to these children is to grow and be useful to us and that they will listen to our advice. Let us advise them and what I want to tell you people; what happened will never happen again. We can’t suffer for years and waste all we laboured for in the past, just because of one foolish person. We will never allow it to happen again. I have seen how the houses were destroyed and how people abandoned their homes.
“I want to ask: are we in war? Not now that I am the governor what my governorship has come to do is to bring development and not destruction. I will send a committee to come and look into all the damages so that we can assist in repairing the damaged houses. I give the youths of Izombe seven days to return weapons in possession. I want to say this, I will disappoint my enemies and Imo State will continue to move forward.”
It was learnt that residents of the community had invited military officers because of security threats to their lives. But while the military officers were trying to arrest the suspect, Obele, he allegedly resisted and attempted to shoot the soldiers but he was killed.
The late suspect’s gang members subsequently attacked and killed two military officers, and took their arms and ammunition.
They allegedly also took their army uniforms.
Another report said the trouble started when some gunmen attacked military officers trying to stop them from smuggling petroleum products.