Kajuru monarch

•High profile individuals, soldiers among casualties

By Vincent Ujumadu

THE peaceful atmosphere being enjoyed in the South East geopolitical zone after the activities of the infamous unknown gunmen strikes that led to the death of many people in the area has again been cut short following renewed attacks in parts of the zone.

In the last two weeks, no fewer than 20 lives have been lost, including high profile personalities like the Director  General of federal government –owned Science Equipment Development Institute, SEDI, Enugu, Professor Samuel Ndubuisi, Anambra State –born billionaire and philanthropist, Chief Philip Udala, team manager of Udala Football Club in Anambra State, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of AutoEase Service Limited, Ifeanyi Okeke, two soldiers attached to the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, as well as a police orderly of Chief Udala, among others.

For instance, the killing of Udala, who hailed from Uke in Idemili, was so bizarre as it happened in the full glare of passersby and traders at the Eke Agu market in Abatete in Idemili North local government area of the state. When Udala left his house that fateful morning, little did he know that he would not come back alive. His assailants had ambushed his convoy around the market and opened fire at close range and when their guns could not do the work, they applied other means.

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An eyewitness who gave her name as Chioma said: “The attackers shot him severally, but the bullets did not penetrate. They then stabbed him with knife, pushed him inside his Lexus jeep as he attempted to run away and set the car ablaze with him in the car. He struggled to come out of the car while the fire was raging, but couldn’t and he fell off the car door after he was completely burnt. The assassins also killed his driver, Peter, the team manager of his club,, Godsent, his security detail, Paul and another policeman riding with him.”

According to Chioma, who claimed to be familiar with the victim, Udala returned from Lagos the previous day, not knowing that his life would come to an end the following day.  Chioma added: “Udala wedded his new wife only last month and she is heavily pregnant. His new mansion at the 3 -3 area of Onitsha is at the finishing level and the opening of the new house was already being planned. He was a very generous man and did not deserve this kind of death.” 

As questions were still being asked as to the  motive behind the killing of Udala and his aides, suspected cultists struck in Awka the following day in a daylight operation, killing three people in the process. The suspected cultists numbering three operated in a tricycle and shot repeatedly at the popular Aroma junction unchallenged for about 20 minutes before heading to the Ifite area of the state capital where they gunned down the three persons.

Police spokesman in the state, Mr. Tochukwu Ikenga said investigations into the incidents had begun. Although cult activities had become rampant in many towns in the state, even among secondary school boys, the problem reduced after some villages in Awka formed what looked like the dreaded Bakassi Boys that held sway during the administration of former Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju and started killing and burning suspected cultists on the streets. As the people of Anambra State were wondering the cause of the return of the street killings, the Coal City of Enugu, considered as one of the safest cities in Nigeria, started recording frightening incidents of murder. Before the killing of the Director-General of the Science and Equipment Development Institute, Prof. Ndubisi along the Enugu –Port Harcourt expressway, a former High Court Judge in the state, Justice Nnaji, was shot and killed in his car in a busy area of the city. The police orderly attached to Ndubisi was also killed as they were returning from work. Forty eight hours before the killing of Ndubisi, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of AutoEase Service Limited, Mr. Ifeanyi Okeke, was also murdered in the city in the presence of his eight-year-old son.

As the people of Enugu State were wondering the cause of the increasing insecurity in the state, the Nigerian Army reported the loss of two soldiers, alleging that operatives of the Indigenous People of Biafra’s militant arm, Eastern Security Network, ESN, attacked its location at Iggah and Asaba checkpoint in Uzo Uwani local government area of the state.

According to the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu,, the fallen troops were deployed to checkmate the activities of gunmen at Adani community in the local government when they came under the attack of the operatives of the ESN.

“Sadly, during the fire fight that ensued between the Army and ESN, two soldiers paid the supreme price. Troops are currently on the trail of the criminals.

“We assure the general public of our commitment to provide adequate security in the general area in collaboration with other security agencies. We also urge members of the public to complement the effort of the security agencies by remaining law abiding and providing useful information on the fleeing gunmen,” Gen Nwachukwu said.

While some people blame the killings on increasing rate of cultism in the society, others finger the ESN, which they believe, appears to be regrouping after the break that followed the arrest of the IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. There were also those who believe that lack of central security outfit in the zone was fueling the insecurity.

A retired civil servant, Mr. Godwin Olisakwe said the killing of prominent people, like the SEDI DG, the football club owner or the retired High Court Judge could not be mere coincidence, arguing that those who carried out the acts must have planned their execution weeks or even months before striking.

He said: “ Apart from the soldiers that were killed at checkpoint, the other killings could be properly planned assassinations, which could either be due to business gone sour, or betrayals on the part of the victims. That is why people must be very careful with what they do, especially at this period in the country where most people appear to be frustrated about happenings and could be easily provoked.”

According to him, the governors in the various states in the zone appear to have relaxed on the issue of security, which is why the people he described as hoodlums were regrouping and causing havoc in the society.

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