Gov. Hope Uzodimma of Imo State on Monday in Owerri commiserated with families of two soldiers killed on Friday at Izombe community in Oguta Local Government Area of the state.
The governor has also vowed that the perpetrators would be unmasked and brought to justice.
This is contained in a statement signed by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser, Oguwike Nwachuku, and made available to journalists in Owerri.
The two soldiers and a resident were killed in a squabble between youths, who were collecting tolls from illegal oil bunkerers and oil thieves in the community.
The traditional ruler of Oborsi-Izombe, Eze Pius Muforo, had on Sunday lamented that more than 70 houses, 15 vehicles and 25 motorcycles were razed just as crops were destroyed consequent upon a security raid in the area.
Pained by the loss of lives and destruction of property, Uzodimma promised that government would set up a panel of inquiry to look into the immediate and remote causes of the crisis.
He said the panel would make recommendations that would help to stop another occurrence.
The governor, however, frowned at the situation where the youths confronted the military patrol sent to the area, burnt military vehicle, abducted and killed two soldiers, and made away with their rifles.
“The recent happening has brought to the fore the earlier state’s directive that anybody, no matter how highly-placed, who is in possession of any weapon should return it to security agencies.
“Regrettably, the time given for such has elapsed. Therefore, anybody still keeping any weapon runs the risk of being arrested and prosecuted and made to face the full weight of the law.
“Government will go out to fully implement that directive and ensure that all bandits no matter are discovered and brought to book,’’ he said.
Uzodimma also said it was no longer pardonable for people or any group of people to take the laws into their hands.
He said banditry, violence, kidnapping and other forms of crime and criminality had been on the increase since the jail break in Owerri that saw criminals return to the streets.
“The evidence of their activities is manifested in what happened at Izombe Community where one of those who confronted the military was an escapee from Owerri Prisons.
“Fortunately or otherwise, the hoodlum was killed by the soldiers in the confrontation,’’ he said.
The governor assured the families of the slain security operatives that the death of the soldiers would not go in vain.
He reiterated his administration’s commitment to support security agencies to ensure that peace returned to the state. (NAN)