…as separatist group blows hot: Uzodinma will pay dearly
Police, Civil Defence, Fire Service operatives also dead
Aggrieved politicians responsible—State govt
’15 people carried out attack with petrol bomb’
Four policemen, soldier injured
By Evelyn Usman & Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
Less than one month after Owerri Correctional Centre and headquarters of Imo State Police Command were attacked, the country home of Governor Hope Uzodinma was bombed yesterday.
The incident, which happened at 8:15 am at his village, Omuma, in Oru East Local Government Area, resulted in the death of four security operatives.
Same day, the Commander of Eastern Security Network (ESN), an outfit facilitated by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB), and six members of the outfit were killed during a shootout with security forces in the state.
IPoB immediately responded, blaming Uzodinma for the killings.
The separatist group said the governor had stirred the hornet nest and would pay dearly for it.
The state government said the attack on Uzodinma’s country home was carried out by 15 people, who arrived at the scene in three vehicles including a tipper loaded with used tyres.
Public Relations Officer of Imo State Police Command, Orlando Ikeokwo, who confirmed the incident, identified the casualties as a Police Sergeant and two personnel of Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps,NSCDC.
”Yes, I can confirm the story. The hoodlums attacked the governor’s house by throwing in petrol bomb as a result of which two cars were burnt, but they were successfully repelled.
“None of the building was set ablaze. However, one unarmed personnel of the NSCDC was killed in the process. The hoodlums while escaping also killed a Police Sergeant and another NSCDC personnel both in their private vehicles at Mgbidi junction,” the Police spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Sunday Vanguard learnt that an officer of the Imo State Fire Service was also killed by the attackers.
Director of the state Fire Service, Japhet Okereafor, identified the deceased as Atenesuis Iheakor, a level eight officer.
A source in Omuma community told Sunday Vanguard: “The man was killed as they were driving to Governor Hope Uzodimma ‘s house to quench the fire.
He was killed less than two poles away from Uzodinma’s house.”
The dead security operative was said to be a father of five children.
It was further gathered that the attackers also carried out pockets of attacks in another Local Government Area.
A resident of Omuma community, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The attacks in other areas were not serious. They were shooting to clear the way for themselves. As a result of the shooting, some people running away got injured. I was told some were struck by stray bullets. The areas the hoodlums were shooting sporadically as they were leaving were in Orlu, parts of Oru East and Oguta Local Government Areas.”
In his reaction to the incident, Imo State Commissioner for Information, Declan Emelumba, said: “Gallant security operatives this morning repelled an attack on the Omuma country home of the governor of Imo State, Sen Hope Uzodimma.
“At about 9 am today, Saturday, April 24, a group of hoodlums, numbering about 15 and driving in a motorcade of three vehicles accompanied by a tipper loaded with used tyres, stormed the country home of the governor in Omuma, Oru East LGA and attempted to burn down the house.
“However, vigilant security operatives attached to the governor’s house successfully repelled the attack and consequently minimised the damage they had planned to unleash. In the crossfire that ensued a few casualties were recorded. Preliminary investigation suggests that the foiled attack may have been politically sponsored.
“Government has directed relevant security agencies to expedite investigation on the incident and promptly apprehend the sponsors and their agents and bring them to justice.”
Also speaking on the issue, the Coalition of South-East Leaders, led by Mr. Goodluck Ibem, said the attack was perpetrated by aggrieved politicians.
“The Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, the apex socio-political youth organisation in the South-East geopolitical zone condemns in strongest terms the vicious invasion and incursion by men of the underworld that led to the untimely death of security operatives guarding the governor’s house in his country home at Omuma in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State. The burning of the governor’s house and killing of security men on duty is wicked and barbaric”, the group said in a statement.
“Igboland is a peaceful place and anyone behind this vicious attack on Igbo land must be brought to justice.
“The attack on the governor’s residence is purely the handiwork of aggrieved politicians who are not happy with the governor’s stance against corruption and conversion of government properties to personal properties.”
Meanwhile, the Commander of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPoB/Eastern Security Network (ESN), in the South-East, identified simply as Ikonso Commander and six other IPoB/ESN members were killed in a shootout with men of the Police, Army and the Department of State Service, DSS, in the state.
Three policemen and a soldier were said to have sustained bullet injuries during the incident.
The operatives, in a joint operation, reportedly stormed IPoB’s operational headquarters in Awomama village, Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State, yesterday.
The operation, as gathered followed an allegation that members of the group were responsible for the attacks on the headquarters of Imo State Police Command and the Nigerian Correctional Service on April 5, 2021.
They were also alleged to have carried out series of calculated, violent attacks on security personnel and formations in the South -East and South-South regions.
A source who spoke to Sunday Vanguard said: “As the security forces approached the base of the insurgents, they came under rapid fire from the group. In a bold and clinical response, the joint security forces fought back gallantly and eventually neutralised the commander of the insurgents in the South-East popularly known as Ikonso Commander and six other armed fighters of the insurgent group.
“Commander Ikonso is known as the Vice President-designate as well as the coordinator of all the militia operations of the group. He was the mastermind and coordinator of the attack on Imo Police headquarters and several other attacks on security and military personnel and facilities.
“The operation is part of a deliberate effort by the Police and other security forces to quell activities of insurgents in Imo State and other states in the South-East and South -South regions.
“At the end of the gun duel, the security teams were able to recover the remains of Ikonso Commander and six of his fighters.
“Several sophisticated weapons including six AK47 rifles, hundreds of ammunition of different caliber and lots of charms including bulletproof charms were recovered from the insurgents.
“Three policemen and an Army officer are receiving treatment in the hospital, having sustained serious bullet injuries during the exchange of gunfire with the insurgents.”
Responding to the shootout between security forces and IPoB/ESN members, in a statement titled, ‘Killing of ESN Commander: Hope Uzodinma has stirred the hornet nest’, and signed by Emma Powerful, IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, the separatist group said the governor decided to kill Ikonso “because he refused his offer to head Ebebe Agu ghost security outfit formed by South-East governors.”
The statement reads:
“We the global family of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB), ably led by our great leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, strongly condemn the unprovoked attack on some members of IPoB and ESN operatives at Oguta Junction at Mgbidi, along Owerri Road Onitsha expressway by a joint security force comprising the army, police and DSS operatives, with the support of Imo State Government.
“The killing of the heroic innocent Biafrans protecting our communities and towns from Fulani terrorists herdsmen masquerading as cattle herders in cold blood is very painful.
“The Supreme Court Administrator of Imo State Hope Uzodinma and all those who had a hand in this wickedness will pay dearly. Hope Uzodinma and his cowardly Nigerian security agencies cannot confront Fulani terrorists but only flex their muscles when they see Biafra agitators. For murdering Ikonso, the ESN unit COMMANDER, in cold blood, Uzodinma has stirred the hornet nest! He should get ready for a sting.
“Uzodinma decided to kill Ikonso because he refused his offer to head Ebube Agu ghost security outfit formed by South-East governors. Uzodima has tried but without success to lure ESN operatives into EBUBE AGU. He had made irresistible offers to them which were turned down, hence his resorting to elimination of these patriotic heroes who vowed never to betray Biafra.
“Hope Uzodinma sent emissaries to beg Ikonso and other ESN officers to join EBUBE AGU security outfit. So, because of their refusal to betray Biafra agitation and our Leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the governor mobilized joint security forces to attack them today.
“Contrary to claims by the cowardly security forces who flee from terrorists but kill innocent citizens, they were not able to penetrate into the camp of Eastern Security Network, ESN. They only ambushed Ikonso but we promise them hell for this cowardly act!
“Hope Uzodinma has murdered sleep, so he should be ready to stay awake! FULANI terrorists pretending as cattle sellers in Enugu destroyed police van and attacked government officials on lawful duty with AK-47 rifles but no army, police or DSS attacked them till now. But ESN operatives defending our communities against terrorists are being hunted like games everyday. The world has kept quiet over this atrocity until we begin our own madness”.