Imo State (Igbo: Ȯha Imo) is a state in the South-East geopolitical zone of Nigeria, bordered to the north by Anambra State, Rivers State to the west and south, and Abia State to the east.[6] It takes its name from the Imo River which flows along the state's eastern border. The state capital is Owerri and the State's slogan is the "Eastern Heartland."[7]

Flag of Imo
Seal of Imo State
Location of Imo State in Nigeria
Location of Imo State in Nigeria
Coordinates: 5°29′N 7°2′E / 5.483°N 7.033°E / 5.483; 7.033
Country Nigeria
Created3 February 1976
 • GovernorHope Uzodinma (APC)
 • Deputy GovernorLady Chinyere Ekomaru (APC)
 • LegislatureImo State House of Assembly
 • SenatorsE: Onyewuchi Francis Ezenwa (LP)
N: Frank Ibezim (APC)
W: Osita Izunaso (APC)
 • RepresentativesList
 • Total5,530 km2 (2,140 sq mi)
 • RankRanked 34th
 (2017 est.)[3]1
 • Total4,927,563[1]
 • Estimate 
 • Rank13th of 36
 • Year2021
 • Total$49.69 billion[4]
4th of 36
 • Per capita$7,828[4]
3rd of 36
Time zoneUTC+01 (WAT)
postal code
ISO 3166 codeNG-IM
HDI (2021)0.647[5]
medium · 6th of 37
^1 Preliminary results

Of the 36 States in Nigeria, Imo is the third smallest in area but is fourteenth most populous with an estimated population of over 5.4 million as of 2022.[8] Geographically, the state is divided between the Niger Delta swamp forests in the far east and the drier Cross–Niger transition forests in the rest of the state. Other key geographical features are the state's rivers and lakes with the Awbana, Imo, Orashi, and Otamiri rivers along with the Oguta Lake in western Imo State.[9]

Modern-day Imo State has been inhabited for almost a thousand years by the Igbo people with the Igbo language serving as a lingua franca alongside English throughout the state. In the pre-colonial period, what is now Imo State was a part of medieval Kingdom of Nri and the later Aro Confederacy before the latter was defeated in the early 1900s by British troop then the Anglo-Aro War. After the war, the British incorporated the area into the Southern Nigeria Protectorate which later merged into British Nigeria in 1914; after the merger, Imo became a centre of anti-colonial resistance during the Women's War.[10]

After independence in 1960, the area of the present-day Imo was a part of the post-independence Eastern Region until 1967 when the region was split and the area became part of the East Central State. Less than two months afterwards, the former Eastern Region attempted to secede in the three-year long Nigerian Civil War with Imo as a part of the secessionist, Igbo nationalist state of Biafra. The area was hard fought over throughout the war with Owerri and its surrounding area exchanging hands twice before Owerri was named the Biafran capital in 1969. The present-day Imo State was captured by federal forces in early 1970 with Operation Tail-Wind taking the city and ending the war.[11] At the war's end and the reunification of Nigeria, the East Central State was reformed until 1976 when Imo State was formed by the Murtala Muhammed regime. Fifteen years afterwards, Imo State was divided with eastern Imo being broken off to form the new Abia State.[12][13]

The state economy is highly dependent on agricultural production, especially the production of palm oil, which a majority of citizens rely on for cooking.[14] A key minor industry is the extraction of crude oil and natural gas,[15] especially in Imo's north and west. The state has been beset by violence at various points throughout its history, most notably the anti-cult 1996 Otokoto Riots[16] and the ongoing separatist violence from the Eastern Security Network[17] along with other opportunistic nativist gunmen. Despite unrest, with its fast growing population and industrialization, Imo State has the joint-sixth highest Human Development Index in the country.[18]





Imo State is bordered by Anambra State to the north for 84 km (52 miles), Abia State to the east for about 104 km (partly in the vicinity of the Imo River), and Rivers State to the south and west for about 122 km.[19][20] The state lies within latitudes 4°45'N and 7°15'N, and longitude 6°50'E and 7°25'E, with an area of around 5,100 sq km.[21]

Natural resources


The state has several natural resources which includes, crude oil, natural gas, lead, calcium carbonate, solar and wind power, zinc.[19][22]

Profitable flora including iroko, mahogany, obeche, bamboo, rubber tree and oil palm. Additionally white clay, fine sand and limestone are also found in the state.[19]



The rainy season begins in April and lasts until October,[23] with annual rainfall varying from 1,500 mm to 2,200 mm (60 to 80 inches).[21][24]

An average annual temperature above 20 °C (68.0 °F), creates an annual relative humidity of 75%. With humidity reaching 90% in the rainy season. The dry season experiences two months of Harmattan, from late December to late February. The hottest months are between January and March.[21][23][24]

With high population density and over farming, the soil has been degraded and much of the native vegetation has disappeared.[21]

This deforestation has triggered soil erosion, which is compounded by heavy seasonal rainfall that has led to the destruction of houses and roads.[21][25][26]

Environmental issues


Soil erosion


Soil erosion is the most common geo-environmental hazard in Imo State, with over 360 erosion sites, out of which 57 are confirmed to be critical and in need of immediate remediation.[27][28] They are mostly gully erosion found in Ideato, Orlu, Ihitte-uboma, Arondizuogu, Umuomi-ikeduru and Njaba areas of the state. These gullies are attributed mainly to poor civil engineering works, specifically road/gutter construction as well as sand mining. During road construction, adequate control of the runoff generated in this process is poorly taken into consideration. There is also no proper termination, spill way, and gabions to lower intense flow to non-erosion velocities during gutter construction. Hence, rainwater overflow from concrete gutters resulting in erosion, especially at the intersection of gutter and road.[27]

Due to gullies, farmlands have been significantly affected, with both farmlands and their road paths lost. There is also loss of social infrastructures such as, electricity and pipe-borne waters. Communities such as Ikeduru, Orlu, Ehime Mbano, Nwangele, Nkwerre and Mbaitoli dependent on stream and harvested rainwater for domestic use have been impacted due to surface water/stream pollution caused by intense runoffs from the gully sites.[27]

Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), kick-started in the state on November 11, 2014 and the ecological fund are some of the interventions for soil erosion in the State.[29][30] Communities such as Eziala- Obizi in Ezinihitte Mbaise LGA; Iyiuzo-Ihioma-Ogberuru in Orlu LGA; Umueshi-Amanato in Ideato South LGA; Umuturu -Ezemazu -Urualla in Ideato North LGA; Umunumo Ibeafor in Ehime Mbano LGA; and Umueze Obazu-Mbieri in Mbaitoli LGA are beneficiaries of the NEWMAP project in Imo State.[31]



Available research identifies Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema, Ngor Okpala, Owerri West, Owerri North, Aboh Mbaise and Owerri municipal LGAs as very high flood areas; Mbaitolu, Ikeduru, Aboh Mbaise, Onuimo, IhiteUboma, Obowo and Ehime Mbano LGAs as moderate flood hazard areas; and northern of Isiala Mbano, Nwangele, Nkwere, Orlu, Ehime Mbano and Southern part of Ideato North, Okigwe and Ideato South LGAs as low flood hazard areas.[32]

In August 2019, flooding caused by heavy rain submerged about 70 houses, displaced 2000 villagers and destroyed farmlands in Orsu-Obodo community, in the Oguta local government area.[33][34] Many residents in the state capital (Owerri) were also displaced in 2017.[35] The Orlu-Umuchima-Obiohia-Akokwa-Uga federal road has been cut off by gully erosion thereby leaving motorists and other road users stranded.[36]

Ideato North and Ideato South have been erosion high risk areas in recent times in Imo State.[37][38] Isiala Mbano is also not left out in these frequent flood disaster in Imo State.[39]

Oil and gas exploration


There are over 163 oil wells, at over 12 different locations in the State.[19][40] The main petroleum companies operating in the State are Addax Petroleum, Chevron Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell and Agip.[19] Some of the established oil-rich local government councils include: Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta, Oru East, Iho, Oru West, Obowo and Ngor Okpala.[41] In recent times, indigenes of Ohaji/Egbema communities have been protesting about poor basic amenities in their host community despite the presence of oil producing companies.[42][43][44]

Investment opportunities


Many investment opportunities exist in the State including oil and gas exploration, chemical plants, brewery plants, hydroelectric plants, gas-fired power plants, grain mills, starch production, cashews, fruit and vegetable juice concentrate production, integrated multi-oil seed processing plants, ceramics, inland waterway transport, and palm produce industry.[19]

Independent global brewer Heineken, through its subsidiary Nigerian Breweries, has significant investment in Imo State.[45] The company manages the world-class Awo-omamma Brewery, a multiple-line plant.[46]

Many more oil and gas opportunities are yet to be developed.[19] The federal government has been called to inspect newly discovered oil-rich areas, which might help foster economic development and job creation.[47]

Industrial parks and processing zones to harness the huge agricultural produce and minerals would give a major boost to the state's economic growth and industrialization.[19]

Oguta Lake, Palm Beach Holiday Resort in Awo-omamma , and a host of other tourist sites along the banks of the 26 km-length Njaba River present hotspots for tourism.[48]: 34 



Agriculture is the primary occupation, but due to over-farming and high population density, the soil has greatly degraded.This could be as a result of inefficient production techniques, poor resource base, declining soil productivity, predominance of primitive techniques of agricultural production, inadequate supply of credit, low capital investment, use of crude implements to mention but a few.[19][49] The Agricultural sector in Imo State, needs the intervention of the state government and other huge private companies, this is because having a strong economy based on crude oil, natural gas and palm oil will not aid for the development of the state.



Imo State came into existence in 1976, along with other new states created under the leadership of the late military ruler of Nigeria, Murtala Muhammed, having been previously part of East-Central State. The state is named after the Imo River, which bears the name of a prominent Nigerian family with that family name, who were the chiefs of Imo State before the ratification of a more formal government.[50] Part of it was split off in 1991 as Abia State, and another part became Ebonyi State.[51]

Imo State was created at Ngwoma, and the meetings for the state creation which began after the Nigerian Civil War[52] ended in 1970 were chaired by Eze S. E. Onukogu.[51][53]

The people of Imo State carried out the Otokoto riots of 1996, which was a statewide protest, in response to the serial kidnappings and murders occurring in Imo at that point in time.[54] One of the most remarkable riots that took place in Imo state, that led to the destruction of properties was the #ENDSARS protest. This protest which started peacefully not only in Imo state, led to riots and destruction of police stations, and killing of security personnel[55]#ENDSARS in Imo State.



The State has a three-tier administrative structure: State, Local and Autonomous community levels. The three arms at state level are the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.[56] The executive arm is headed by an elected Governor, who is assisted by a deputy governor, commissioners and executive advisers.

This is a list of administrators and governors of Imo State since its creation.

Name Title Took office Left office Party
Ndubuisi Kanu[57] Governor Mar 1976 1977 (Military)
Adekunle Lawal Governor 1977 Jul 1978 (Military)
Sunday Ajibade Adenihun Governor Jul 1978 Oct 1979 (Military)
Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe[58] Governor 1 Oct 1979 31 Dec 1983 NPP
Ike Nwachukwu[59] Governor Jan 1984 Aug 1985 (Military)
Allison Amakoduna Madueke[60] Governor Aug 1985 1986 (Military)
Amadi Ikechegh[61] Governor 1986 1990 (Military)
Anthony E. Oguguo[62] Governor Aug 1990 Jan 1992 (Military)
Evan Enwerem[63] Governor Jan 1992 Nov 1993 NRC
James N.J. Aneke[64] Administrator 9 Dec 1993 22 Aug 1996 (Military)
Tanko Zubairu[65] Administrator 22 Aug 1996 May 1999 (Military)
Achike Udenwa[66] Governor 29 May 1999 29 May 2007 PDP
Ikedi G. Ohakim[67] Governor 29 May 2007 29 May 2011 PPA / PDP
Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha[68] Governor 29 May 2011 29 May 2019 APGA/APC
Emeka Ihedioha[69] Governor 29 May 2019 15 Jan 2020 PDP
Hope Uzodinma[70][71] Governor 15 Jan 2020 Till date APC

The legislative arm is headed by the Speaker of the State House of Assembly. The current Speaker is Rt. Hon. Chike Olemgbe, and his deputy is Rt. Hon. Amara iwuanyanwu. The remainder of the house is made up of elected legislators, from the 27 LGAs of the State.

At the 10th state house assembly (2023), the current speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly is Hon. Chike Olemgbe. He is a first-time member representing Ihitte/Uboma Local Government Area.[72][73] Also, the Deputy Speaker of the house is Hon. Amara Iwuanyanwu, who is a member representing the Nwangele constituency.[74]

The judiciary is made up of the high court of justice and the customary court of appeal and is headed by the Chief Judge of the State.[75]

Local Government Areas

Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area in Imo State
Oru West L.G.A. Imo State
Orlu Local Government Area, Imo State
Okigwe Local Government Area, Imo State

Imo State consists of 27 local government areas:

Smaller jurisdictions in the state may receive township status or urban status.[76][77]



The state has over 5.5 million people, and the population density varies from 230 to 1,400 people per square kilometre.[21] Christianity and Odinani are the majority religions, with Odinani becoming more common as citizens are beginning to embrace their religious heritage.[78] In addition to its capital, other notable towns are Orlu, Obowo, Oguta, Awo-Omamma, Mgbidi, Mbaise, Okigwe and Ohaji/Egbema.

Imo State is a predominantly Igbo-speaking state, with Igbo people constituting a majority of the population (around 98%).[79]



Majority of Imo State residents are Christians. Catholics (2021) in the Archdiocese of Owerri (1948) with 162 parishes under Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji (2022), and two suffragan dioceses of Okigwe (1981) with 119 parishes under Bishop Solomon Amanchukwu Amatu (2006) and Orlu (1980) with 189 parishes under Bishop Augustine Tochukwu Ukwuoma (2008). The Anglican Church of Nigeria includes the Province of Owerri led by Archbishop David Onuoha (2020), also Bishop of Okigwe South, and 10 other Dioceses of Okigwe South (1994) led by Bishop David Onuoha (2004), Owerri led by Bishop Chukwuma Oparah (2018), Orlu led by Bishop Benjamin Chinedum Okeke (2019), Mbaise(1992) led by Bishop Chamberlain Chinedu Ogunedo (2010), Isi Mbano led by Bishop Godson Udochukwu Ukanwa, Ideato(1999) led by Bishop Henry Okeke (2020), Ohaji/Egbema led by Bishop Childi Collins Oparaojiaku (2008), On the Lake led by Bishop Chijioke Oti (2008), Oru led by Bishop Geoffrey Chukwunenye (2008), Okigwe led by Bishop Edward Osuegbu, and Ikeduru led by Bishop Emmanuel Maduwike (2009).



The state government is led by a democratically elected governor who works closely with members of the state's house of assembly. The Capital city of the State is Owerri.[80]

Electoral system


The electoral system of each state is selected using a modified two-round system. To be elected in the first round, a candidate must receive the plurality of the vote and over 25% of the vote in at least two-thirds of the State Local Government Areas. If no candidate passes this threshold, a second round will be held between the top candidate and the next candidate to have received a plurality of votes in the highest number of Local Government Areas.[81]



Institutions of higher learning


This is a list of the higher institutions located in Imo State:



Federal Highways


Other major roads include

  • the Uli-Aguta Rd north to Uli in Anambra State
  • the Ihiala-Orlu Rd to Anambra State,
  • the Nnewi-Okigwe Rd via Akokwa and Akwa-Okigwe Rd north to Anambra State,
  • Okigwe-Afikpo Rd east to Abia State at Okigwe,
  • the Umu-Opara Rd from Umoke to Abia State,
  • the Umu-Ohie-Uku-Amala-Ibodo Rd southwest from Okpuala via Eziama and Amala to Olakwo in Rivers State,
  • the Owerri-Ahoada Rd southwest to Rivers State,
  • the Okwuzi-Aguta Rd south to the Ogura-Omoku Rd in Rivers State.



Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport.

Notable people











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