By Chidi Nkwopara – Owerri
Palpable fear and confusion have enveloped residents of Imo State, following the unabating reign of terror visited on them by yet to be identified gunmen.
Unknown gunmen, Monday night, attacked the Okigwe South Area Command Headquarters, Ehime Mbano, killing five policemen during the operation, while one police officer, at the time of going to press, remained unaccounted for.
Confirming the development in a press statement, the Imo State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Orlando Ikeokwu, said that the Commissioner of Police has ordered full investigation into the incident.
His words: “Good evening. I can confirm an attack on Okigwe South Area Command Headquarters, Ehime Mbano local government area, by yet to be identified gunmen. Five officers have been killed, while one is yet to be accounted for. The building was not razed, please.”
Vanguard recalls that barely 24 hours earlier at Orji, Owerri North local government area, the Commissioner for Entrepreneurship and Skills Acquisition, Mr. Iyke Ume, the Special Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma on Inter Party Affairs, Mr. Dominic Uzowuru, and other citizens, were victims of a robbery attack.
Uzowuru told newsmen in Owerri that he was not shot, but the Commissioner was shot, adding that their handsets were snatched from them.
His words: “The Commissioner was dropping me off, when the armed robbers stuck. I was not shot, but the Commissioner was shot in his hand and leg. I am fine and the Commissioner is responding to treatment, to the glory of God.”
The PPRO also confirmed the story, pointing out that the incident was a robbery attack on a motorist, shot on the leg and presently receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri.
In a near similar development, residents of some parts of Owerri municipality, Monday night, were forced to keep awake, following gunshots that disturbed the night.
Vanguard gathered that the unknown gunmen allegedly engaged a team of soldiers stationed at Ama Hausa, along Douglas Road, Owerri.
A Hausa trader, who simply identified himself as Suleiman, said: “The unending gunfire, which lasted for over three hours, forced us to run into our houses for safety. I did not see the people firing and nobody was killed in Ama Hausa.
“All I can say is that vehicular traffic along Douglas Road, came to an abrupt halt before 9.30pm.”
Another respondent, who spoke on strict grounds of anonymity, from his hiding place on Christ Church Road, said: “The gunshots were loud enough for even the deaf to hear. From where I was hiding, it appeared to me that the sound was coming from the Fire Service Roundabout.
“Honestly, I was shocked beyond description, at the gunfire that rented the air. I have never heard such a continuous firing all my life. The street lights were on but we could not move from our hiding places for fear of stray bullets.”
Meanwhile, all the commercial banks situated along Douglas Road, Owerri, were yesterday, closed to their customers.
A staff of one of the banks, who pleaded anonymity, told Vanguard on phone that: “We decided to close shop for fear of the level of insecurity in the state. Only a handful of the banks on Assumpta Avenue, opened for business today (yesterday) and I am very sure that they will close their doors before the official closing hour.
“It is also true that apart from our bank (names withheld), most banks in the rural areas of the state, did not open today (yesterday). There is every likelihood that their head offices must have instructed them not to open for business.”
Vanguard equally noticed that all roads leading to the Correctional Centre, Government House and Ama Hausa, have been closed to traffic.
No reasons were given by any government official, for the road blocks, at press time.