BY KALU EZIYI, Umuahia
Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has made a state-wide broadcast on the nationwide anti-SARS protest in the state few hours to end of the 24-hours curfew he imposed on Umuahia, the capital and Aba on Tuesday.
His words, “I fully understand the issues that gave birth to the initial peaceful protests and share the pains of our people. But in protesting injustice, we should not allow injustice to be done to innocent citizens and institutions.”
This was even as his chief of staff, Anthony Agbazure had earlier issued a press statement obtained by LEADERSHIP, saying the curfew will remain until further notice and tricycles operators in both towns should keep off-the roads.
Stressing the need for peace in the state, he said, “We have to do this to avoid losing control of the situation and allow forces outside the state to have reason to unleash death, sorrow and tears on our people.”
“It is for this reason that we have taken the painful but necessary step of imposing a curfew in Aba and Umuahia. It began by 6pm on October 20 and we will be reviewing prevailing security situations to decide on next steps.”
“The curfew is a temporary measure meant to ensure the restoration of law and order in the state. We regret the inconveniences this will cause our citizens and residents and urge everyone not on essential duty to stay indoors for the duration.”
He said the law enforcement agents have been detailed to act decisively against anyone wilfully disobeying the order. “As is the custom, all essential service providers validly identified are exempt from the curfew.”
Ikpeazu noted that the government was not unmindful of the fact that some people are not happy with the peaceful atmosphere in the state and will seek any available means to foment trouble for their nefarious and political ends.
Arguing that the government will continue to frustrate their efforts at every turn, the governor added that in response to the initial demands of the protesters he has set up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to look into them.
According to him, the panel which is chaired by a former chief judge (CJ) of the state, Hon. Justice Sunday Imo has over 70 percent of the membership made up of youths and those familiar with the situation.
“I wish to call on all our youths to stand down now and allow us to do the needful to redress their grievances. I do not want any more Abia life to be lost and I am therefore appealing for calm and good sense.