No fewer than 67 security agents, comprising the police, Navy and prison wardens, have been killed by gunmen in the South East and South South since December last year.
At least, 25 police stations were also burnt in the renewed orgy of violence that followed the #EndSARS protest across the nation last year.
Of this figure, 62 are policemen, four Naval personnel, while the other person was a prison warden killed while taking some suspects to court in Awka, Anambra, last month.
Vanguard investigation weekend revealed that eight policemen were killed in Abia State, while two police stations were razed by the gunmen from December till date; 15 were killed in Anambra State, while five police stations were also burnt by the gunmen who also made away with weapons of the police.
Similarly, it was gathered that five policemen were killed in Ebonyi State, while 10 police stations were razed; five police stations were also burnt in Imo State.
Further investigation showed that seven policemen were killed in Edo State; 11 in Cross Rivers State; nine in Akwa Ibom State and 12 in Delta State.
In Abia State, investigations showed that eight policemen lost their lives, while 2 police stations were razed in the attacks. Records show that from December 2020 till date, there had been over 10 attacks on security agents and stations across the state, with the attackers
carting away arms and ammunition. Three of the policemen were reportedly killed by unknown gunmen in Abiriba in Ohafia Local Government Area.
The deceased policemen include Inspector Austin Ugwu, Inspector Longinus Ugochukwu and Constable Ama Ifeanyi, who were serving at Abiriba. Their rifles were also taken away.
On February 24, 2021, gunmen also attacked Abayi police station in Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area where they killed a policeman, looted arms and ammunition and set the station ablaze.
It was a similar situation at Omoba Divisional police headquarters in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area, where hoodlums said to have operated with motorcycles, killed a policeman and looted the arms and ammunition stored in the armoury.
Also, another police Inspector was killed at Uratta in Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area. The policeman’s name was simply given as Emma. In most of these attacks, exhibit vehicles were set on fire as policemen were overpowered by the gunmen who operated freely.
A source said the police inspector was riding on the motorcycle to Uratta police station when, on approaching Uratta Road by Chief Obi Street; he was attacked by three armed men.
N1m bounty for informants
Worried by the attacks, especially that of Abayi police station, Abia State government pledged N1 million for anyone who could provide information that would lead to the arrest of the gunmen.
The government, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, also reduced the time of operation of tricycles from 7am to 7pm.
On the death of the three policemen at Abiriba, the Deputy Governor of the state, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, assured that the state government would deploy all necessary resources available to ensure the protection of the people and all law-abiding citizens.
Being a group already declared an enemy of the state, security agencies’ accusing fingers were pointed at the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and its Eastern Security Network, ESN.
However, both have denied any involvement in the attacks.
IPOB, in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary Emma Powerful, refuted allegations by the Chief of Navy Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, who pointed accusing fingers at the personnel of the Eastern Security Network, ESN, set up in December by IPOB Leader, Mazi
“ESN is not unknown gunmen reported to be responsible for the said attacks. ESN is identifiable and has a mandate. Its mandate is to protect the Eastern region against terrorists and the killer herdsmen.
We have severally stated that ESN is not after security agents, but terrorists rampaging our communities. ESN operates in the bushes and not in the cities. Anyone looking for them should go to the forests.
“Neither ESN nor IPOB is involved in the purported attacks against security agents. This is another fabricated lie by the Nigeria military to blackmail the security outfit and have another excuse to attack innocent people.
“We are however not surprised that the Nigerian Government will easily point accusing fingers at us. We know their antics. They are only looking for another justification to launch fresh military operation in the South East and South South to kill more innocent and unarmed
Biafrans. What offense has ESN committed other than flushing terrorists out of our lands? When has resisting terrorists in the forest translate to attacking security operatives?
“We, therefore, want to place the Eastern people on alert over the evil plot of the Nigeria military to declare another special military operation in the region using the purported attacks which, of course, are not peculiar to the region as an excuse. The hypocrisy of the Fulani-controlled Nigeria Government has been exposed.
‘’They deploy Southern soldiers to the North to face Boko Haram and Fulani bandits with almost empty hands. In the end they get ambushed and slaughtered like chicken. The military has never invaded any Northern community where these Southern soldiers were attacked, yet they are threatening special military operation in the East over the said attacks on security agents,” IPOB had said.
In Anambra State, police checkpoints have virtually disappeared, following the recent attacks on security men on duty in parts of the state. Recall that the #EndSARS protests resulted in the burning of about five police stations in the state and police also had to withdraw from the road during that period.
The present development has created tension among security operatives in the state. Following the recent attacks which has left no fewer than 10 of them dead, normalcy subsequently returned and the security operatives resumed work at the checkpoints.
But in a surprised manner, unknown gunmen attacked a checkpoint at Nkpologwu in Aguata Local Government Area and Omogho in Orumba North Local Government Area, killing four policemen.
They also took away their rifles and set their patrol van ablaze. The gunmen drove in a salon car and a black Mercedes Benz 4Matic SUV.
Police authorities in the state said the Commissioner of Police, Monday Bala Kuryas, has ordered discreet investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident and bring perpetrators of the dastardly act to book.
The next place the gunmen attacked was a police checkpoint at Neni in Anaocha Local Government Area where they killed three policemen. On the same day, they attacked a naval checkpoint at Awkuzu in Oyi Local Government Area and killed three naval ratings.
On the same day, gunmen again attacked Ekwulobia police station in Aguata Local Government Area, killed another policeman and two officials of Nigeria Correctional Service, NCS. They also attempted to burn down the police but were repelled by policemen at the station.
They subsequently attacked a bus conveying prison inmates to the court and killed two officials of NCS.
Recall that Ekwulobia Police station was among those that were completely razed during the #EndSARS protest and was only recently rebuilt. After the Ekwulobia attack, gunmen again attempted to burn down a police station in Awka North Local Government Area, but were repelled by the policemen.
The identity of the attackers is yet unknown, but one noticeable thing since the resurgence of the attacks in the state was the disappearance of policemen on the roads, apparently out of fear of further attacks.
Also, the objective of these killers still remains unknown, the obvious being carting away arms and ammunition from the slain officers.
Gov Obiano vows
These developments forced Governor Willie Obiano to make a statewide broadcast, vowing to ensure security operatives fished out those behind the attacks and bring them to justice.
The governor said: “Since these attacks commenced, I have personally coordinated security commanders in the state with a joint effort to halt this mayhem and by God’s grace, we will surely succeed. The State Security Council has met twice and I had summoned another emergency meeting..
“Let me emphatically state that any attacks on security personnel in Anambra is a direct attack on the state itself and will be resisted with our greatest might. Those who attack us are obviously intent on distorting the peace and security we have enjoyed in Anambra State in the past seven years and we will not allow that.
“We have received massive Police, Army, Navy and DSS deployment and they have joined their teams on ground to enforce security.
“I have therefore directed all security agencies in the State, the Vigilante Services, all task forces and every structure in the state security infrastructure to rise in defense of our dear state.
“I call on all youths in Anambra State, all communities, all market task forces and indeed every outfit in this state to duty.
“All traditional rulers, community leaders, as well as every stakeholder in Anambra should rise to protect our state.
“As your governor, I hereby raise the security alert in the state and I commit to restoring order and security immediately.
“I call on everybody, irrespective of affiliations to come together and support government and security agencies to fight our common enemy. Those who seek to destroy what we have laboured to build must not be tolerated in any manner. I ask the public to help with information and intelligence to the State to nip this situation in the bud.
“Going forward, extensive security activities will be obvious and by God’s grace we shall overcome. Fitted tinted glasses on vehicles, as well as covered plate numbers will no longer be allowed on all roads within the state. Security agencies will be conducting special and strategic operations aimed at neutralizing the emerging threats to our collective safety.
“The Police, military and all security agencies and outfits in the state are urged to step out in full boldness to reclaim the public space, dominate the streets, confront criminals when identified and urgently restore order and safety to Anambra State.”
However, since the governor’s broadcast, vehicles have been plying the roads in the state with tinted glasses without molestation.
Only last week, former Central bank governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, was attacked by some gunmen at a townhall meeting in his community, Isuofia, Aguata Local Government Area, killing three policemen, and abducting Anambra State Commissioner for Public Utilities, Engr. Emeka Ezenwanne, who regained his freedom yesterday.
Five suspects, according to the state police command, have also been arrested
“The police command has arrested five suspects in connection with the incident and remains committed to apprehending the remaining gang members,” a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu, yesterday, read.
In Ebonyi State, five policemen were killed, while over 10 police stations were touched . Among the police stations destroyed were Kpirikpiri Police Station, Onueke Police Station, Central Police Station, CPS, Ekumeyi Police Station and other Police stations in Onicha and Ezza North Local Government Area; Okposi and Uburu in Ohaozara LGA and Iboko in Izzi council.
A set of policemen died while returning from a peace mission in the troubled Effium and Ezza-Effium communities in the state.
The particular incident at Onueke Police Station was disturbing as some alleged cultists stormed the police station at night, killed the policemen on duty and freed some suspects.
The Ebonyi State Police Command has over time mounted surveillance at different flash points to ensure the arrest of suspected criminals in the state.
In Imo State, over five police stations have been damaged since after the #EndSARS protests that rocked the country. Among the police stations are Aboh Mbaise Divisional police station, Umuelemai Divisional police station in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area as well as Divisional police station in Ishinweke, Ihitte-Uboma Local Government Area of the state.
In Aboh Mbaise police station attack, gunmen on February 25, around 7pm, attacked the Divisional Police headquarters Aboh Mbaise, shooting sporadically. The officers on duty, however, engaged them in a gun duel.
At the end of the shootout, one policewoman sustained gunshot injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Also on March 20, about 18:30 pm, hoodlums whose number could not be ascertained, attacked the Divisional Police headquarters at Isiala Mbano, shooting sporadically.
However, operatives of the division successfully repelled them. After the encounter, it was discovered that the hoodlums destroyed some doors and windows.
“No arms were taken away. Regrettably, one Inspector, who was on duty at time of the attack, gave up the ghost while receiving treatment as a result of injuries sustained during the melee,’’ a police source told Vanguard.
In Edo State, although there is no official information from the police in Edo state Command on the number of its personnel that have lost their lives while in service in the last four months, Vanguard gathered that no less than seven personnel had lost their lives on duty.
On January 7, 2021, suspected fleeing armed robbers killed a police constable while on a checkpoint along the Benin-Auchi road. The late constable was attached to the anti-cultism unit of the state police command.
Before then, on December 19, 2020, two policemen attached to the Edo State Head of Service (HoS) were killed by kidnappers when they kidnapped the HoS, Anthony Okungbowa. They were killed by the kidnappers to enable them take their principal away.
Two policemen were also killed at Igueben late last year when unknown gunmen on a Monday evening invaded the police station, entered its armoury and carted away arms and ammunition.
In the process, twp policemen were killed, while others were seriously injured.
Although police had denied the killing of any person, Vanguard gathered that the attackers attacked the facility with substances believed to be explosives, broke into the armoury and carted away arms.
A resident in the area told Vanguard: “The attackers came around 7:30 pm and threw explosives into the station which made it easy for them to gain entry and they killed three people including two policemen and a civilian.
‘’A police Inspector, a constable and a civilian were killed and the men got into the armoury and went away with their arms.
‘’But the Police Public Relations Officer, Kontongs Bello said yesterday that “I only entered this office three weeks ago and from that three weeks, we have not recorded any casualty and that is the period I have been in office. That is the current situation.’’
In Cross Rivers State, 11 policemen were also killed during the period under review. A reliable source at the state command headquarters said on December 2,, 2020, an Assistant Commissioner of Police Egbe Odum, was killed by killed by hoodlums.
He was a commander of Moblie Police unit in Borno State before his untimely death. He was visiting his family when he was attacked as he alighted from the bus that brought him to Calabar.
In another attack on February 24, 2021, four policemen manning a road block, near Idundu bridge, were killed by gunmen who also carted away their arms.
On March 3, six policemen were killed at Obubra in the central part of the state, and the state police command told Vanguard it was doing everything possible to unearth those behind the unprovoked killing of policemen in the state.
The state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, has also promised to assist the police command in the state to fish out those killing security agents in Cross Rivers State, saying the attacks were capable of scaring away investors.
In Akwa Ibom State, no fewer than 9 policemen have been killed in line of duty between from January till date.
Among those killed are two Police inspectors, and a Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP.
One of the Inspectors of Police was burnt to death inside a Police van at Ikpe Annang junction in Essien Udom Local Government Area, while the second was killed when his house was razed in the same local government area.
The latest attack occurred on March 30, 2021, in the same Essien Udim LGA when of CSP Ben Ajide, who was the Commander of the Quick Intervention Unit and two others were killed.
The police said four other police officers whose names/identities also were not disclosed, had been missing in the Essien Udim attack.
The Commissioner of Police Mr. Andrew Amiengheme, who lamented the situation, said: ‘’Whereas the remote and immediate causes of these unprovoked attacks are unknown, a discreet investigation is on the way to unravel same and seek lasting solution”
In Delta State, over 12 police officers have been killed by hoodlums within the last three months. Investigation revealed that two police inspectors were killed by gunmen at Ugbolu in Oshimili North Local Government Area, while their rifles taken by the hoodlums. The two policemen were killed mid-February 2021 in the night at a checkpoint by suspected gunmen who opened fire on unsuspecting policemen.
Also in February, three were killed in Ughelli. While two were killed in a eatery, the other was killed in a church.
Also, three were killed in Warri axis and their service rifles were collected by the hoodlums. Of the three, one was killed at Ekpan, one at Jakpa road and the third at Osubi.
At Ashaka in Ndokwa East Local Government Area, one police officer was killed about two weeks ago after suspected hoodlums intercepted a police patrol van.
The hoodlums took two service rifles and set the patrol van ablaze as other members of the team scampered for safety.
One was killed last Tuesday during a bank raid at Issele-Uku, Aniocha North Local Government Area. He was shot by the armed robbers who stormed the community and raided two banks, a petrol station and an eatery.
A senior police source, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said effort was on to stop the trend but declined to comment on the strategy the Police were adopting to stop attacks on its men.
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, who spoke to the Vanguard, decried the trend, saying that the state government was doing everything possible to support the police in terms of logistics and equipment to stop the ugly incident.
Ifeajika said: “The State government is doing everything possible to assist the police. We have the ‘Operation Delta Hawk’. The most the state government can do is to support them with vehicles, communication gadget and everything that they need and this government has done superlatively.
“There is this clamor for community policing to complement what the regular police is doing and the state government has in that process set up the ‘Operation Delta Hawk’ and even the Police is part of it, the vigilance groups are part of the component and other people that they brought in.
“It is strictly funded by the state government all to ensure that the state is well policed and so far it is paying off because the incident of crime is reducing. We are noticing the reduction, though there is still a few here and there which is normal in any society.
“The ‘Operation Delta Hawk’ is here to stay. The funding is there, the training is there. So much is being done to ensure that lives and property are secured in the state, so that people can sleep with both eyes closed.”