Posted by News Express | 12 February 2022 | 1,540 times
There is palpable fear, jitter and a whirlwind of insecurity in the South East as gunmen return in the region. Tagged ‘unknown gunmen,’ they have once again imposed an atmosphere of fear, anxiety and uncertainty on the zone, particularly in Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states, where they unleashed gruesome acts.
In the past four weeks, none of the five states of the zone has been spared the gale of killings by gunmen.
At least, 15 persons have been murdered in cold blood by gun-wielding men with no trace of the perpetrators in Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi, while the situation in Imo has been dastardlier.
It started with the purported enforcement of the sit-at-home in Enugu on January 10, an action that claimed at least three lives at Agbani Road and other parts of the Coal City while many property, including vehicles and commercial tricycles, were destroyed. But leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has dissociated the group from the call to stay at home. Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said that during his recent visit to Kanu at the detention facility of the Department of State Service (DSS) in Abuja, Kanu had told him that he never sanctioned the said sit-at-home. IPOB spokesman, Emma Powerful, on Thursday, also dismissed the order and its enforcement.
Despite the denials and dismissals, tension currently pervades the region with the renewed killings by gunmen. Barely hours after four policemen were killed at a checkpoint in the Lomalinda Area Enugu, a popular security head in the town, Ogbonna Ani, known as Jango, was shot dead. Heavy shooting ensued at the Meniru area of Agbani Road as gunmen wielding sophisticated weapons attacked the neighbourhood. Residents were said to have gone into hiding while bullets rained at about 11pm on Thursday. Details of the attack were sketchy yesterday, but Saturday Sun gathered that those injured were rushed to the ESUT Teaching Hospital, Parklane, where they are receiving treatment. In the afternoon, rampaging gunmen killed three policemen and abducted three civilians, including a woman.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, Daniel Ndukwe who confirmed the incident, which took place at a checkpoint near Cashew Bus Stop, close to Timber Junction, Lomalinda Estate Independent Layout, disclosed that the police immediately commenced manhunt for the perpetrators. It was gathered that the policemen were on stop-and-search when the gunmen who had allegedly abducted a man very close to Treasure Point along Ugwuaji Road, stormed the checkpoint, opened fire and killed the three cops on the spot.
In the cause of the heavy shooting, a commercial tricycle (Keke) operator was said to have sustained gunshot wounds while some other people were not spared as they tried to escape from the scene. Unconfirmed sources said the hoodlums also abducted a woman and her driver who ran into them as they were trying to escape. “The gunmen kidnapped a man around that culvert where they sell tyres and it seems their gunshots attracted the police nearby and they tried to block them. We heard serious gunshots and believed they must have engaged the police in a shootout which claimed the lives of three policemen. Their lifeless bodies were just there, one was found inside the gutter.”
There was similar pandemonium at the Aguata axis of Anambra State on Tuesday, when armed men gunned down four persons. The hoodlums who left on their trail, tales of sorrow and blood were also alleged to have killed two other persons at Oko, another at Igboukwu and another person close to Ekwulobia Girls Secondary School. One of their victims was an official of the Anambra State Traffic Management Agency (ASTMA), controlling traffic at the ever-busy Ekwulobia Roundabout in Aguata Local Government Area of the state.
Eye witnesses said the gunmen who were in a Mercedes Benz 4Matic and black Hilux van, came in from Aguata LGA direction on top speed, stopped by and robbed Jezco filling station along Isuofia Road. One other person was shot dead at Immaculate Heart, Ula Ekwulobia while a petrol attendant was allegedly killed at Ezinifite. According to an eyewitness, they mistakenly drove off, leaving one of them with a bag behind. The crowd who had gathered at the scene was disorganized by the gun-wielding robber who threw heavy amount of money into the air from the bag and the crowd went after the money while the robber escaped by jumping on top of an okada.”
Spokesman of the State Police Command, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu said: “Preliminary information reveals that along Umunze road the hoodlums, in an attempt to disarm a mobile Police officer on patrol, started shooting sporadically. The Mobile Police Officer returned the fire immediately, engaged the hoodlums which made the gunmen flee the scene.” Our investigation revealed that security agents particularly personnel of the police and army were majorly their target.
A group of Gunmen had on February 2, attacked a military checkpoint at the boundary intersection of Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi and Mpu/Oduma in Aninri LGA of Enugu State and killed a soldier on duty. They also burnt the military van at the spot. Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Uchenna Orji, who confirmed the attack shortly after the State Security Council meeting in Abakaliki on February 3, said the state government condemned the dastardly act.
Still in Ebonyi, gunmen killed one Sunday Nwafor, an Ebubeagu security operative in Ekpelu, Ikwo Local Government Area of the state. The victim was shot and his head cut off by assailants. Saturday Sun learnt that over five gunmen had stormed Nwafor’s house while he was asleep in the night and shot him. After killing him in a gruesome manner, they dragged his body out of his room and cut off his head and went away with it. Police Public Relations Officer of Ebonyi State Command, DSP Loveth Odah confirmed the incident saying that two of the suspects were nabbed.
“According to the wife who spoke to policemen, she said that before she heard a gunshot, she overheard one of the hoodlums telling her husband that he left them in the bush and came back home to enjoy himself by collecting N30, 000 from the government,” Odah stated.
A retired Chief Superintendent of Police, Chris Kpatuma was similarly brutally murdered by hoodlums on February 2, at his country home in Mgbala Agwa Autonomous Community of Oguta LGA in Imo State.
In the face of all the killings, former Military Administrator of Delta State, Air Commodore Luke Ochulor (rtd) has blamed the spate of insecurity in the country on selfish desires of Nigerian leaders who, according to him, are only thinking of the next election rather than the problem at hand. He expressed regrets that the situation if not curtailed would take much toll on the people of the zone.
“This is an ominous situation, it’s the beginning of the end, it shows nobody is safe in South East. The governors are not doing enough to protect the people because they are interested in politics; they want to become President or other positions,” he said. “The people of the zone are paying the price of laxity of the leaders. As a matter of fact, if you talk to them, they will use the commonwealth under their control to harass you. That’s why all those people who are supposed to talk are quiet. In a situation where security personnel are being killed, who will protect the ordinary man? If anybody tells you he has an answer to that, the person is deceiving you.”
Meanwhile, two youth groups, Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) and Igbo National Council (INC) have warned that the return of insecurity could pose danger to the upcoming general elections in 2023. President General of COSEYL, Goodluck Ibem added that what was happening showed that governors of the South East were not living up to expectation as chief security officers of their respective states. Ibem said: “It shows lack of intelligence gathering by security agencies and the governor of the state.
The President of INC Worldwide, Chilos Godsent alleged that some politicians from outside the zone could be fanning the embers of war in South East to scuttle the chances of Igbo presidency in 2023.
“We wish to state that South East Zone was not known for the kind of violence we have recently witnessed. We have strong suspicion that there are heavy influence of external forces promoting violent killings and crimes in South East so as to make the zone very unsafe and ungovernable as we approach the 2023 Presidential Elections.
“These suspected external forces are using both local and external terrorist groups to destabilize the zone with the ulterior motive to scare South East Zone Presidential aspirants from consulting and campaigning.” (Saturday Sun: Excluding headline)
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