A worrying situation is developing in Imo state, where Northerners are generally referred to as ‘Boko Haram’ by the people of the State. In fact the situation has gotten so bad that the Imo State Police Command had to release a press statement warning the people of Imo to desist from tagging any person dressed in northern attires as Boko Haram.
In the last two weeks, there have been speculations that the state government planned to issue ID cards to Northerners in the state. The Imo government was then roundly criticised by the senate for the alleged move but Governor Rochas Okorocha has since denied having the intention of doing any such thing. With the recent developments, it is feared that Imo could become a trigger for ethnic violence.
The Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Andrew Enwerem, said in the statement that insurgents are not identified by their mode of dressing or the language they speak.
Enwerem advised people of the state to maintain harmonious relationship with people of other ethnic groups, rather than engage in name-calling. He also urged the media to also sensitize members of the public on the issue.
Northern leaders in the state meanwhile have expressed concern over the development.
Speaking to the press, the Vice Chairman Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Alhaji Muhamad Abubakar Tola, said it is unfair for people to tag every northerner ‘Boko Haram.’ He narrated a particular chilling example of when some Hausa people who went to a viewing center to watch a World Cup match were sent out.
Also, the Sarikin Hausawa of Imo State, Alhaji Baba Saidu Suleman, at a press conference in Owerri, also condemned the development and appealed to Imo people to see northerners in the state as part of them, considering the number of years they have lived there.