COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE SOUTH EAST HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION ROOM MEETING HELD IN ENUGU ON WEDNESDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER 2017

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BACKGROUND:

The South East Human Rights Situation Room is a group of human rights non-governmental organizations working in the South East. Members held a meeting today Wednesday 13th September 2017 in Enugu to discuss the human rights situation and violence in the South East, especially Operation Python Dance 11and to determine what to do. It observed that from all indications, the operation has started ahead of the stated date of 15th September 2017 as announced in a press release by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

At the end of the meeting, participants expressed concern about:

1.  The escalating violence in the South Eastern States of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States in view of Operation Python Dance 11 and the need to maintain peace, order and the rule of law in affected areas.

2.  Events that have already occurred in affected states such as the attack on some journalists and residents of Umuahia, Abia State.

3. The operation commenced without adequate sensitization and dissemination of information about its modus operandi and the rule of engagement to the people of the zone.

In view of the above the participants resolved as follows:

1.     That the South East Human Rights Situation Room requests for lawful and ethical conduct of personnel executing “Operation Python Dance 11”.

2.     Whatsoever tactics adopted in the Operation must be in compliance with international human rights law and global best practices.

3.     We request the adequate training for military personnel on human rights and the rule of law, especially those who interact with Nigerians on the roads and check points on a daily basis in the course of this operation in the South East geo-political zone.

4.     We implore the military personnel to desist during the period of this operation from intimidation, inhuman and degrading treatment of road users and commuters.

5.      The South East Human Rights Situation Room will continue to disseminate safety tips to members of the public, especially the youths to shun violence in all situations and be Law abiding.

6.     We will embark on a campaign to educate the civilian populace and residents of the South East Zone on the need to conduct their daily activities in accordance with the law and report any infraction to the South East Human Rights Situation Room on telephone number 09060002128; and #HumanRights4SENigeria, Email:humanrights4senigeria@gmail.com

 

SIGNED BY:

Professor Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, OON

Convener, South East Human Rights Situation Room

Dr. Uju Agomoh

Co- Convener, South East Human Rights Situation Room

Miriam Menkiti

Co- Convener, Women Information Network (WINET)

Professor Felicia Anyaogu

Co-Convener, FIDA Enugu

Rev. Fr. Ambrose Ekereoku

Co-Convener, Carmelite Prisoners Interest Organization (CAPIO)

South East Women Network (SEWNET)

Mr. Iheanyi Igboko

Agents of Communication and Development (A-CODE)

Mrs. Harrieth Oleru

SEWNET, Imo State

Chukwuonwe Beatrice

National Council for Women Societies (NCWS) Enugu Chapter

Mary Ogbonna

National Association of Women Journalist (NAWOJ), Enugu

Mrs. Nwanneka Okolo

National President, Catholic Women Organization (CWO)

Mrs. Patricia Chima

SEWNET, Ebonyi State

Grace Nnadozie

SEWNET Anambra State

Dr. Obiajulu Nnamchi

Human Rights Activist

Barr. Wilson Nneji

CAPIO, Enugu

Barr. Mrs. Gozie Udemezue

Healing Hearts Widow Support Foundation

Mrs. Ugo Kalu

National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) Abia State

Barr. Nkechi Ezeani

WACOL, Head of Legal Unit

Ugochukwu Ogbonna Esq.

WACOL, Legal Officer

Odoh Ada Treasure

Gender Equality Movement

Amaka Micheal

Global Health Awareness And Research Foundation (GHARF)

Mr. Albert Oko

Prisoners Rehabilitation And Welfare Action (PRAWA)

Chukwuonwe Adaora

Gender Equality Movement

Mrs. Uzoma Uzoeshi

SE Women Political Empowerment Office, Owerri

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FIVE THINGS YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT IMO

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Imo is one of the states in the South East of Nigeria, located in the heart of Igboland. Its capital city is Owerri, the state’s largest city, and the state’s main economic stay is agriculture and commerce. It’s a bustling state with a lot to offer in culture, history and even business and investment opportunities. We share 5 things about Owerri you probably didn’t know.

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  1. It has a Zoological Garden

Owerri, the capital Imo State, is the home of the Nekede Botanical Garden, a well-tended area for displaying varieties of plants labelled with their botanical names. It’s a spectacular garden on a large landscape with ever-changing beauty. It’s one of the major tourist attractions of Imo state. Some hotels to lodge in while visiting include Rockview Hotels, Santiago Suite etc.

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2. It’s the Location of the Amadioha Shrine

Well, this is not exactly a place the majority might want to visit, but some might find it interesting to know Imo state is the location of the shrine of the famous deity, Amadioha. Amadioha is the Igbo traditional god of lightning and thunder. The Amadioha shrine is particularly situated in Ngo Okpala Local Government area of Imo State.

3. It has Its Very Own Signature Hill (Peculiar to the State Alone)

The rolling hills of Okigwe is located in the north-eastern part of Imo State. It possesses very attractive and appealing qualities that lists it as one of the major tourist attractions in Imo State and in Nigeria. The hill consists of a series of expanding hills with varying heights and ruggedness. It’s indeed a fascinating attraction and one of nature’s finest works. The hills provide a suitable site for camping and picnicking with friends and family, and it’s a great site to enjoy the endowments of nature.

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4. The State Was Named After the Imo River

Imo State came into existence in 1976, after the Nigerian Civil War. It was originally part of the now defunct East Central State created in 1967 by General Yakubu Gowon. The state was created at Ngwoma named after the Imo River. After the state creation, part of it was later split off in 1991 as Abia State and another part became Ebonyi State.

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5. It has One of the Biggest and Most Viable Oil Palm Plantations in West Africa

The Ada Palm Plantation Complex situated in Imo State, is believed to be the biggest and most viable oil palm plantations in West Africa. The palm plantation was established in 1974, occupies about 4,310 hectares of land, with a housing estate and was one of the nation’s major sources of foreign exchange before the discovery of Petroleum.

Top 5 Places to learn Igbo History and Culture

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The Igbos, one of the main ethnic groups in Nigeria, are known to have a rich culture and remarkable history. While modernization has ensured the erosion of certain aspects of their culture, much of its history has been preserved, including relics from the past which reveal its heritage.

We list 5 of the places where the culture and history of these people who dominate the eastern part of Nigeria can be discovered.

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The Igbo-Ukwu museum is in Ngo village, Igbo-Ukwu, Anambara state. The town, Igbo-Ukwu is of great historical and cultural significance in Igbo land as it is notable for bronze artifacts from a very sophisticated bronze metal-working culture centuries before other known bronzes of the region. It is in recognition of this that the Federal Government in Nigeria granted approval for the hosting of an annual National New Yam Festival in Igbo- Ukwu to promote the culture and tradition of Ndigbo and new yam festival. The festival takes place at National Yam House built by the Federal Government in Igbo- Ukwu since 2005. The Igbo-Ukwu bronze treasures were accidentally discovered by a worker who was hired to dig a cistern by Mr. Isaiah Anozie during dry season in 1939 . Subsequent archaeological excavations of the area led by Professor Thurstan Shaw led to the discovery of other sites , making a total of three sites: Igbo Isaiah (a shrine), Igbo Richard (a burial chamber), and Igbo Jonah (a cache). Among the recovered object include a ritual Pottery Vessel,Scabbard, Pendant with rams head, Human face with scarification, Bronze bowl and a pear – shaped bowl. While some of these artefact have been exported and some lost, the Museum plays a significant role in preserve the remaining Igbo ukwu pieces, indigenous productions, which are vital in discerning the ancient history of not only Igbos, but of the human existence within ancient Africa. lgbo-Ukwu Museum has remained an attraction to tourists mostly because of its bronze artifacts. It is great place to visit as the bronze pieces are a sight to behold.

The Long JuJu Shrine of Arochukwu

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Arochukwu is the third largest town in Abia State (after Aba and Umuahia) in southeastern Nigeria and is a famous tourist destination as the cave of the famous long juju oracle is a particular attraction. It is originally, a religious centre with a well-laid down administrative structure headed by a Chief Priest. The cave is believed to hold the long metal pipe through which the gods speak to the people, and was used to judge the perpetrators of crimes in the old time. A dark kilometre-long series of tunnels, some deeply mysterious features of the shrine include the Throne of Judgement, where Chukwu would decide on the fate of a person, the Tunnel of Disappearance, and the Red River, which would turn coloured when a person was killed. What makes this shrine, also known as Ibinu Ukpabi, a spectacular historical site in the region is the role it played in the slave trade era and thus the impact it made in Nigeria’s history.In the 15th Century, when the slave trade was introduced, West African middlemen used it to their advantage, as the condemned were no longer killed inside the shrine, but secretly sold on into slavery. The mystic Long-Juju shrine, the slave routes and other relics of the slave trade era have become important tourist attractions in the area as a result of what they represent in Nigeria’s history.

Mbari Cultural Centres

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Mbari is a traditional arts and crafts center retained by the Imo State council for Arts and Culture. Situated at Ikenegbu in Central Owerri, Mbari, it is an open air museum that houses monumental arts depicting the culture, tradition and history of the Igbo people. Sometimes referred to as the ‘house of gods’, it is a huge tourist attraction. Although Mbari is a monumental art sacrifice to “ALA” the earth goodness, it also shelters artistic representations – artefacts as well as sculptures- which tell of the prevalent social life of the Igbos and images of other prominent deities that inhabit the traditional Igbo cosmic system. These deities include Amadioha (the god of thunder), Ogwugwu (the god of the forest), Nwaorie (the goddess of Nwaorie River), Ahiajoku (the god of harvest), etc. Closely attached to each deity are images of animals such as monkeys, tortoise, rams, snakes and owls, believed to represent errand spirits or mystical messengers of the deities. There are also images of Ikoro, the Igbo traditional instrument for communicating messages; unfamiliar creatures such as the ostrich (Enyi Nnunu); a certain tall figure representing Alakuko, allegedly the tallest man in Igboland; ‘Onye afo toro’, a man whose stomach became bloated because he committed an abomination against Ala, etc Contrary to general assumption, Mbari is neither a centre for idol worship nor an idol in itself. It is an art form that has its origin very deep in Igbo cultural and religious beliefs and practices. The Mabari cultural centre is a three dimensional cultural facility, made up of the Mbari House, Mbari Museum Kitchen and an amphitheatre, and definitely a must-see location.

 

National War Museum Amafor Isingwu Umuahia 

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National War Museum Amafor Isingwu Umuahia is a museum set up to exhibit relics used during Nigeria’s Civil war of 1967. The museum has the largest collection of the Nigerian civil war weapons that are no longer in used. The weapons are from both the Nigerian military and the defunct Biafra. Commissioned in 1985, the museum is located at Ebite Amafor in Isingwu Autonomous Community in the Umuahia North Local Government Area. The museum’s location was chosen because it was where the bunker housing the famous shortwave radio “the Voice of Biafra” was transmitted from. It has three galleries featuring items on the traditional warfare, armed forces and Nigerian civil war weapons. War relics in the museum include weapons used during the pre-colonial civil disturbances, warfare materials used during communal and inter-tribal wars and those of the Nigerian civil war. The Museum Complex opens at 10am and closes at 6pm daily with a gate fee of N100.  For those who did not experience the civil war, they may not get a mental picture of how it occurred without visiting the  museum. And for those who did, they could relive the period by visiting the museum. It is a perfect way to gain firsthand knowledge of the civil war, a huge part of Nigeria’s history. It is certainly a place to go.

Mungo Park House 

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Mungo Park House, also known as National Museum Asaba, is tucked behind the Delta State High Court and the state Library Board complex along Nnebisi Road, Asaba,  Delta state Nigeria. Although named after Mungo Park, the man who discovered River Niger, the prominent colonial vestige of pre-fabricated wooden storey building was never owned or visited by Mungo Park. The house was constructed by the Royal Niger Company (RNC) in 1886 and served as the first British administrative headquarters in the country and invariably the first government house in Nigeria. The Mungo Park House offers education on Nigeria’s rich historical background (mainly that of trade and investment in pre-colonial era) and journey to civilization.  Although some parts of the building are slowly dilapidating due to the elements (weather corrosion), it is definitely a place to visit. The museum is also just a few blocks from the popular Grand Hotel, Asaba.

 

5 Reasons you should drop everything and head to Owerri now

Most travelers tend to visit major cities like Lagos, Abuja, or Port Harcourt when visiting Nigeria and those destinations are popular for very good reasons. The popularity of these widely held locations, however, tends to make the places feel touristy and that is not attractive to the class of travelers who like to branch out and instead, go to places that do not feel quite so trodden upon. If you categorize yourself in this second group of travelers, we at Jumia Travel believe that Owerri is a perfect choice for you.

At the moment, Owerri still gives off a fresh and newly discovered vibe, but as the tourist infrastructure inevitably grows, it will become a must-visit like the other popular destinations within the country. Don’t you think it is worth trying to plan a trip before that happens? Read on to discover 5 reasons you should drop everything and head to Owerri now.

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It is Budget-Friendly

Actually, Owerri is more than budget-friendly. With basic accommodation for less than NGN 10,000 per night, local food for less than N500 a plate and cheap transportation, you can spend a lot of time in the city for very little. With the current state of the economy, you may want to take your “me-cation” at this destination.

Friendly locals

The locals in Owerri are beautiful people and not just in terms of looks. They are passionate and genuine, which reflects in almost everything they do. A majority are also extremely friendly and would be excited to get to know you more, learn about your culture and even share theirs with you. Even so, if you need help most locals will try their best to direct you in the right direction. Of course, watch your belongings and use common sense, though.

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Your taste buds will awaken

“Ofe Owerri”, a native soup of the Owerri people is regarded as one of the tastiest in the country. So many songs have been sung about it and for good reason too. A visit to Owerri will leave you wanting to stop in every restaurant and bukkas you see. Their eateries have a variety of meals and delicacies to suit a wide variety of pallets…and the great thing is that they are all usually affordable.

The eastern culture is vibrant, but also safe and easy

Owerri is located in the eastern part of Nigeria and as such shares the Igbo culture which is prevalent in the area. Indigenous culture is visible around town and visitors can witness locals adorned in cultural attires, taste traditional foods and learn about ancient customs. While some practice the traditional religion, Owerri is famously secular and so anyone can observe their own culture and religion too ,while in the city, without any restriction. Cultural festivals, like the indigenous New Yam festival, are also still celebrated.

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You stand a chance to discover the unknown.

Due to the general misconception that Owerri is “dangerous” as you can be kidnapped or badly mugged, it is not very popular with travelers. Thus, Owerri is a paradise waiting to be discovered and explored, devoid (for now) of huge tourist crowds.

5 Must-see Monuments in Nigeria

Benin-Kingdom

Iconic statues pregnant with esoteric and superstitious meanings, landmarks that have stood for years and priceless headstones that signify royalty cut across Nigeria. For travellers, who are planning their itinerary around Nigeria and want to see exciting monuments, Jovago.com, Africa’s largest hotel booking portal identifies some of these monuments. Don’t forget to take selfies.

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Arometa (Three White cap chiefs)

Sculpted by Biodun Shodeinde in 1991, the three white cap chiefs was originally positioned at the point of entry to Lagos to welcome visitors to the centre of excellence. However, due to some superstitious belief and the statue being burnt down, it was moved to its present location in Epe. Even though the statue was previously meant to welcome people to Lagos, the sculpture is rich in meaning. The three chiefs represent the three kinds of traditional greetings in Lagos Island. All the chiefs display clenched fists with the right hand always placed above the left. This signifies the supremacy of the right over the left. This monument is 12 ft tall.

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The Kano city walls

This is arguably one of the oldest monuments in Nigeria and located in the commercial heartbeat of Northern Nigeria, Kano. The wall was has existed as far back as the 14th Century after the foundation was laid by Sakri Gijumasu in 1095. The purpose of the Kano city wall was to provide refuge for  people of Kano. Many of the walls have been renovated but you will still find remnants.  In 1959,  the Federal Government declared it a National Monument.

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Ogbunike caves

The Ogbunike caves is a popular landmark in South East Nigeria located in Anambra state. The caves have existed  for decades and the local found solace in the Caves during the war. Unlike in the past where only the daring visitors attempt to climb, there is now a walkway of about 317 steps which makes for a stress-climb. You are to remove your shoe before you are allowed in and also menstruating women are barred from the caves.

Jesus de Saviour statue

The Jesus de Saviour statue in Abajah, Imo state. The statue which is 28 ft tall is located at the St. Aloysius Catholic Parish African. It was modelled like the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil.

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Benin Bronze Heads

One of the most respected traditional institutions in Nigeria is the Benin traditional kingdom. Closely attached to this kingdom are priceless bronze heads representing different members of the royal families of Benin.  Some of these bronze heads have been carted away while others are located in the palace of the Oba of Benin. You will have a two-edged experience if you decide to see these amazing bronze heads as well as the magnificent Oba’s palace.

5 Igbo Stereotypes Every Nigerian Must Drop

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There are a handful of stereotypes that Africans hold against each other and this is not surprising due to the multi-cultural structure of our society. Nigeria has over 500 ethnic groups. Among the 500, about 9 languages are extinct while only three are -Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba- leading the pack, and each one of these tribal groups have their peculiarities.

IGBO-MEN

The Igbos of Southeastern, Nigeria are one of the leading ethnic groups in the country. They can be found in Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Imo, and Abia. Despite these peculiarities, a handful of Nigerians have some misconceptions about this amazing ethnic group.

We identify 5 stereotypes that Nigerians have about persons of Igbo extraction and offers facts that debunk them.

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They know nothing but business

Let’s give it to the Igbos, when it comes to business, there is no contest. At major markets, they are dominant. In fact, in places where you do not imagine that you will find them, they are always there. But, there is more to this people than business. You find them in politics, literature, education, economy and other sectors. Late Nnamdi Azikiwe, was a businessman, first prime minister of Nigeria and a nationalist as well as a lawyer. The literary lord, the man of words and the author of the evergreen book Things Fall Apart that made the world change their perception about African literaturelate Chinua Achebe was not a businessman, same with Chiwetel Ejiofor, and also Chimamanda Adichie. The list is endless. Take it or leave it, no matter the field an Igbo Man ventures into, the business trait tails him.

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All Igbo women are light skinned

There is no argument about Igbo women being light skinned but the stereotype is tagging all Igbo women light skinned which is not the case. There are chocolate, ebony, and dark skinned ladies among them. In addition, light skinned women are not restricted to Igbo women alone but it cut across all Nigerian tribes. When next you see a light skinned lady, do not make up your mind that she is Igbo!

They love ‘Ego‘ also known as ‘Money

Who does not love money? Money is desired by almost everyone in varying degrees. Many say you cannot date an Igbo girl if you do not have money but these preconceived notions are not entirely based on facts. Rather than singling out a particular ethnic group to castigate, this is a blanket perception for all ethnic groups. Same thing for the men. There should be no ethnic colouration when it comes to making money.

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It’s expensive to marry an Igbo woman

Nigerian women are beautiful, expensive and sophisticated. A man should be happy to marry an Igbo woman because she is not cheap. A man should be proud to provide everything on the list presented to him by the parents to show that he is a ‘man’, however, there is always room for negotiation. So, the stereotype that before you marry an Igbo woman, you need to bring an arm and a leg only applies when the groom’s family are not masters at striking a good bargain.

All Igbos have left their villages for Lagos

Lagos is the melting pot for various ethnic groups and the commercial heartbeat of Nigeria as a result, the state is bound to be peopled by different tribes. However, expressing the thought that all Igbos have emptied their various states to reside in Lagos is laughable and wrong. There are individuals who run thriving businesses in these different south-eastern states that have never visited Lagos.

IMO State: The Eastern Heartland

                                                                                           

The charming state of Imo whose capital city is Owerri offers a fascinating history and a perfect view into the rich cultural heritage of the Igbos of South East Nigeria.

It is a bustling city with some of the most popular landmarks and was one of the earliest states created on February 3rd, 1976 during military rule. This is a reason why it is also known as the Eastern heartland.

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With its administrative organs spanning across 27 local government areas, the state is relatively peaceful and a tropical paradise that guarantees a swashbuckling stay for tourists and visitors. Interestingly, there is a local airport named the Sam Mbakwe airport located in the heart of the capital, so you can fly into Owerri from any airport in Nigeria.

Important cities in the state aside from Owerri are Isu, Okigwe, Oguta, Oru, Mbaise, Mbatoli, and Okpala among others.  Jovago.com, Africa’s No 1 hotel booking portal rounds up everything that will help visitors and tourists navigate the Eastern heartland.

TOP THREE SITES

Oguta-Lake

Oguta Blue Lake

Oguta Blue Lake is the main tourist attraction in Imo state.

The lake’s radiance reflected through its lush green ambiance give a beautiful appeal, attracting tourists from near and far. This water body is  important to the livelihood of the Oguta people as it serves as a fishing hub for fishermen.

According to history, the lake was a channel for transporting palm produce during the colonial era and served as a marine base for the Biafran army. Your visit to Imo is incomplete if you do not go to the Oguta Blue Lake. Do not also forget to visit the Oguta Lake Holiday Resort which is a stone throw from the lake itself.

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Mbari Cultural and Art Centre

The pride of the Igbos in Imo state and by extension South East Nigeria is that they hold dearly to their culture.

One place to appreciate this cultural phenomenon is the Mbari Cultural and Art Centre. It is an open space museum that carefully shelters priced artefacts of Igbo heritage. The centre is divided into three sections made up of the Mbari Museum Kitchen, Mbari House and an amphitheatre.

Ada Palm Plantation Complex

This massive Palm Plantation Complex seats on 4,310 hectares of land in Ohiji/Egbema Local Government Area of the state. It is largest oil plantation in West Africa and is a place that tourists visits to check out the location for one of Nigeria’s economic mainstay before the discovery of oil. It was setup in 1974.

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EATING

There are many delicious cuisines that get their origin from the Igbos. Some of these meals are now consumed in different parts of Nigeria especially where Igbos are found.

The delicacies include Akpu and Uha soup, jakwu abacha and Okpa among many others. So where can you find these traditional cuisines as well as continental dishes? They include Best Lady restaurant, Crunchies, Jevinik restaurant, Kilimanjaro and Renny’s place. They located in the Owerri.

SHOPPING

No matter your preferred style, your taste can be substantially satisfied in Owerri, the state capital.

There are one stop shops like the Owerri Mall, and other small scale stalls like the Mall AladinmaKez Shopping plaza. If you want to have a feel of the sights of sounds of the streets, visit the Relief market located in Ikenegbu extension layout, Owerri. There are also smaller stalls on the outskirts of the city.

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LODGING

Securing excellent and tastefully furnished accommodation is not a problem. Your choice and how deep your pocket is will determine the nature of the hotel you will reside when you visit Imo. From Prisma hotel to Concorde hotel and much more are available for booking on Jovago.com at the most affordable price.

FUN FACT

Oguta lake is the second biggest lake in Nigeria after Lake Chad.  The lake is important to the livelihood of the people of Oguta village where it is located.