•We now live in fear — Anambra residents

•The govs must rise to the challenge — Anambra Elders’ Council

•Blame politicians, disgruntled IPOB, security agents — Intersociety

•Deploy intelligence and stop these killings, Abaribe tasks security agencies

•We have no hands in killings in Anambra — IPOB

•Govt knows the people behind these attacks, killings — Obasi

By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu, Chidi Nkwopara, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chinonso Alozie & Emma Iheaka

Of recent, attacks and killings have been on the increase across the South-East zone with Anambra being a red zone now, after Imo State was almost ruined by these violent attacks.

Last week in Anambra State, there were violent attacks in Onitsha, Awka, Nkpor, Ajalli, Ukpor, Nnewi, Nnobi, among others, which left over 10 persons including policemen, dead.

Prominent Anambra son, Dr. Chike Akunyili, a renowned medical practitioner and husband of the former Minister of Information and Director-General of NAFDAC, the late Professor Dora Akunyuli, his police orderly and driver were among the victims.

This jolted the Anambra State governor, Willy Obiano who placed a bounty of N20 million for useful information on the people behind the terror attacks. Last week in Enugu State, some policemen on duty around Nachi area were hacked down in cold blood. Abia and Ebonyi are not safe either. Surprisingly, these killings are attributed to unknown gunmen, a new lexicon in the dictionary of Nigeria’s security sector.

This has been worsened by the weekly sit-at-home called by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, which is now characterized by attacks, killings and destructions, an obvious indication that it has gone out of their control. If these crises continue, the South-East is headed for total destruction. Already, the situation has disrupted the pattern of living of the people of the region as they now live in fear, not knowing what will happen the next minute.

Very worrisome is that the attacks and killings are taking a different dimension, particularly in Anambra State where it suddenly seemed that politicians are now the target with an attack on members of APC conducting a meeting at Uruagu Ward, Nnewi. Same day, Dr. Nelson Omenugha, chairman of one of the support groups of APGA candidate, Professor   Charles Soludo, was attacked along with others on their way to a political function and two cars, including his own, were set ablaze. Last Thursday, a convoy of a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chris Azubogu, was attacked at Nnobi and his driver killed.

Luckily, Azubogu, who only a day earlier defected to APC from PDP, where he failed to pick the governorship ticket for the November election, was not in the convoy. The South- East, particularly Anambra, is today simply under siege.

With 30 days to the election, only the ruling APGA has formally flagged off its campaign due to fear. Both APC and PDP abruptly cancelled their scheduled flag-off. The fear is rife that some communities, including Nnokwa in Idemili South Council of the state have dismantled all political billboards in their communities.

Former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi has described the increasing insecurity in the state as worrisome. “What is happening in the country now requires the collective attention of all stakeholders, including those in government, the traditional institution and presidents-general of the various communities. This is something that, if not controlled, can consume everybody,” Obi said. Speaking specifically on the killing of Dr. Chike Akunyili, Obi, who hailed from the same Agulu community with the late medical practitioner added: “He was a gentleman. He couldn’t have done wrong to anybody. He just lived his life. He was always happy with himself. I am shocked that this happened to him.”

But the traditional ruler of Agulu, Igwe Innocent Obodoako said government must do something to win the confidence of the people, adding that a situation where the people live in fear is not acceptable.

Mr. Austin Onuora, a political commentator, also expressed worry that the peaceful agitation by IPOB for the restoration of Biafra had assumed a frightening dimension, saying that it is possible that it has been hijacked by people with different agenda. “Infiltrators have taken over the activities of IPOB and this is dangerous. Initially, the speeches of IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu were the law. Now, several people whose identities are not known are dishing out orders to counter those coming from the leadership of IPOB and the people no longer know who to obey,” Onuora said.

Disturbed by the ugly trend, Senate minority leader and Senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Enyinnaya Abaribe said that it remains unknown those committing the killings in the South-East and called on security agencies to carry out serious investigation into what is happening in the region and stop pointing accusing fingers at groups and individuals.

Abaribe also expressed fear that some persons may deliberately be out to turn Anambra State into a theatre of murder and assassinations to create the impression that the state is unsafe for voters to come out to cast their votes during the forthcoming governorship election.

  “Let us say that what is going on in the South-East is something that we cannot just comprehend properly. People in the South-East have never been violent and we are not murderers and part of the confusion is that we don’t know who is committing these crimes.

“We know that there is an election coming, I think in 35 days, and the feeling is that they should turn the state into a theatre of murder, assassinations, maybe to create the impression that it is so unsafe that nobody should come out to vote.

“And we are calling on the security agencies that this is the time they should actually do a serious investigation into this. Drawing conclusions saying it is this group or that group, this person or that person does not help anybody.

“That is why in the motion that was brought by Senator Ekwunife today, she also urged the governors of the South-East and Security heads to put heads together and find out why this is happening. We’re also calling on the public, please if you have any information let the security agencies know.

“We just cannot continue like this. We suffered the devastation of the civil war then, we built up ourselves. We can’t afford to have a self-inflicted devastation again where nobody comes to the South- East anymore because of fear. We have never killed anyone because of election.

“We are not seeing the type of intelligence gathering that we saw in those days that the police and other agencies used to get to the bottom of issues. But I do not believe that it is so.

“I have absolute faith in the DSS and police to get to the root of everything that is happening and I urge them to go ahead and let us know why these things are happening,” Abaribe said while speaking at a programme in Abuja.

He also called on the governors to rise up to their responsibility of providing security to their people. “The governors told us that they have set up an outfit that will help complement what the police and other security outfits are doing. But we have not seen any practical demonstration of that thing they have set up. Most people in the South-East are wondering why you will mention Ebubeagu  and all these killings are going on in the South-East and we have not heard that they held or brought someone to book or handed them over to the police.”

While the blame game over who are behind the attacks and killings go on, a commentator, Mr. Guy, in the social media blamed it squarely on IPOB and said that the solution lies on the IPOB to fish out the hoodlums they claimed to have hijacked their peaceful activities.

According to him, “IPOB should totally stop the sit-at-home order and monitor those carrying it out without their involvement. IPOB should stop seeking for unnecessary recognition by taking responsibility for what they did not do. They take responsibility for bad things too quickly. Bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, cultists, etc, will carry out their nefarious activities, it will be credited to IPOB and they will accept, thereby creating more enemies for Ndigbo before the global community.

“Igbo are the most peaceful people and peace ambassadors on earth; let us go back to our nature.”

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State while condemning the situation of things in the South-East region, wondered why IPOB declared sit-at-home in the first place as it was detrimental to the Igbo.

“You are not sitting at home in the North or in the West; you only sit at home in the South-East to destroy the economy of the South- East. You can’t destroy your people and pretend that you are fighting for them. These are youths and then the agitation of IPOB has been hijacked by cultists, criminals and kidnappers, so the whole show is out of their hands.

“So, it is out of fear that we don’t have enough security to protect the people, that is why the people sit at home out of fear because many had been killed as a result of this and as a result of security agents not being enough to protect them.”

Umahi urged Igbo in Diaspora who are calling for sit-at-home to have a rethink as it is destroying the economy of the region. “I am calling on the entire South-East to understand this sit-at-home and those who are orchestrating it are our brothers outside this country who are paid per hour and so, they feel very comfortable to be at work and ask us to sit-at-home.

“I don’t know why there should be insecurity, I don’t know why there should be killings, I don’t know why they should inflict fear in the minds of our people.

“This is uncalled for and I am warning that the South-East people, their youths may one day rise up against these very few people doing this thing. It is a total war against our people and we are saying that it should stop.”

According to the National Secretary of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Rev. Dr. Cosmas Ilechukwu, issuing such destructive order was a huge mistake.

“First, it was a huge mistake to have declared the sit-at-home for whatever reason. The average Igbo is a petty trader. His or her livelihood depends on what he gets daily from sales. Making him stay out of business any day, means starvation for his family. The socio-economic price the Igbo are paying because of sit-at-home order is incalculable.

“Besides the socio-economic loss, some criminal-minded individuals have taken advantage of the unfortunate sit-at-home to loot, and in some cases, destroy precious and lives. The same is also true of the destruction visited on the property of Igbo people, who IPOB leadership and their loyalists claim to be desirous of liberating.

“When a liberation movement becomes a menace to the people they are liberating, then it is time to have a total rethink. Anything that impedes the economic activity of the Igbo is grossly injurious to the Biafran cause and IPOB leadership ought to have known this much,” the cleric said.

However, IPOB has been denying any involvement in the killings, saying it has nothing to gain in killing fellow Igbo. They attributed the spate of killings in Anambra and Imo States to “wicked and aggrieved politicians” who they claimed “chose to slaughter their opponents and turn around to point accusing fingers at IPOB or the operatives of Eastern Security Network, ESN.”

The group said “no IPOB or ESN operative is involved in barbarity of political killing, as it does not have any interest in Nigerian politics, since restoration of Biafra is just its mandate”.

Part of the statement issued by its spokeman, Emma Powerful said: “We, the great family of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, ably led by our great leader Mazi Nnamdi Okwuchukwu Kanu, wish to dissociate ourselves from the heinous and senseless killing of innocent citizens in Anambra State.

“We have no hands in the political killings going on in Biafra land. We have severally raised the alarm that some cruel politicians are hiding under the cloak of the situation in Biafra land to eliminate their political enemies and blame it on IPOB.

“We don’t know why wicked politicians especially in Imo and Anambra States will choose to slaughter their opponents and turn around and point accusing fingers at IPOB or the operatives of Eastern Security Network ESN. Politicians should leave us alone and settle their scores.

“No IPOB member or ESN operative is involved in such barbarity. We have no interest in the Nigeria politics. Restoration of Biafra is our mandate. We also wish to clarify that IPOB has never issued any official statement that there would be no governorship election in Anambra State. Those peddling such rumour are not our members, and should be ignored.

“Our position on Anambra election will be made public at the right time through our normal channels of information dissemination. Anything to the contrary should be disregarded. Members of the public should stop believing social media fake stories purported to have emanated from IPOB. We are an organized movement and we don’t hide our position on any matter.

“Those who killed Dora Akunyili’s husband killed his wife with poison because she exposed the death Yar’Adua for Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to take over as President of failed Nigeria. Those who conspired to poison Prof. Dora Akunyili, know themselves, they are contesting governorship election in Anambra State today.

“Had IPOB issued a statement regarding Anambra election, by now the likes Joe Igbokwe, would have been ranting that it was IPOB that killed APGA and APC members, who were killed last week. It is obvious that those that burnt Anambra Government House and other parts of the state some years back are back to use intimidations and killings to subdue their opponents ahead of the governorship election in Anambra State”.

Foremost rights group,  Intersociety  blamed the attacks and killings in Anambra State on desperate politicians and disgruntled IPOB members. It claimed that its investigation points strong accusing fingers at those it referred to as “rigger-politicians, former IPOB Comrades (renegades) and the Nigeria Police Force”, alleging that these people “have strong questions to answer with regard to the new wave and maddening rate of crisis in Anambra State”.

According to the rights group, the aim was to scare “independent voters away so as to scientifically rig the November 6 Governorship poll”.

The chairman of the board of  Intersociety, Comrade Emeka Umeagalasi alleged that: “by our recent investigation, the results of the November 6 governorship election are already perfected and stored in secret safe custody and the more number of independent voters are scared away from voting, the better chances they have to rig the election”.

He however expressed doubt over “the competence and capacity of the Nigerian Government and its security forces to fish out those responsible for these heinous acts”.
Also not happy with what is happening in Igbo land, particularly in Anambra, Anambra Elders’ Council, made up of eminent people and notable traditional rulers, called on the people of South East to stop the unnecessary sit–at–home and the resultant attacks and destructions the trail it. They urged Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State to liaise with other South East governors and traditional rulers to find immediate solution to the problem.

The chairman of the council and former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku and the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, who is the chairman of the state Council of Traditional Rulers, expressed worry at the rate people abandon their businesses in the name of sit-at-home.

Condemning the attacks and killings in the region, Bishop Uzoma Emmanuel of
Christ Victorious Alive Revival Mission, Owerri, said: “I am not happy with the killings in the South East. Just the other day, the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri announced that people should come and claim the corpses dumped at the hospital within two weeks or they would conduct mass burial. These were youths killed by security men in Imo State. And today, there is violence all over the place. With the way things are going, if nothing is done to arrest the situation, there may not be Nigeria by 2023.

“Anything that has a beginning also has an end. Nigeria became an entity in1914 and we learnt that there was an agreement that after 100 years, things will be reviewed. The entity became 100 years in 2014. And since then, many things have happened to show that the vision of the fore fathers has been derailed. If late Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Herbert Macaulay could ever get to know what Nigeria has become today, they would be disappointed.”

An Igbo leader, Chief Jerry Obasi, blamed President Muhammadu Buhari for the crisis, saying he mishandled the issue with IPOB. He also laid the blame on the governors for not creating jobs to engage the youths. According to him, there are too much hunger and frustration in the land. He also called for a dialogue with IPOB, saying such step will end the insecurity in the South East zone.

“The South East is already at war, both with itself and its aggressors. Who are these aggressors? The aggressors are the Nigerian Army and the Buhari presidency but the truth remains that the Army does not need to be in the South East. It is the Buhari presidency and the South East Governors that caused and continues to aggravate this problem of attacks and killings in the South East. You don’t tackle agitations with brute force and sending the soldiers to kill the people.

“This has created confusion in the entire zone. Now, unknown gunmen have emerged in the fray; there is confusion in all parts of the country. All these confusion came out of the federal government’s mishandling of the IPOB agitation. Other splinter groups are springing up by the day.

“Government knows these people killing Nigerians; they should directly engage and negotiate with them for peace to return to the land. There should be a pragmatic approach. Look at the complaints, grievances and injustices meted against the citizenry. Many people are frustrated and hungry. There is hardship everywhere.  Government should also introduce measures to improve the economy and generate jobs to engage youths. There is no dialogue that will solve the problem if the economy is not improved upon to address the hardship in the land.

“It was a huge blunder to send soldiers to the South East. You only need the Army in those areas that are controlled by the terrorist groups and insurgents in the name of Miyetti Allah, Boko Haram and Fulani bandits. Buhari and the Governors of the South East zone misread the agitation by IPOB and we are in a very bad situation.

“Today in Anambra, it is difficult for people to gather for political campaigns, even with less than a month to the governorship poll. Governor Willie Obiano’s N20 million promise will not solve the problem because the South East Governors allowed the security situation to degenerate. They don’t want to call a spade by its name. The  Ebubeagu  they claimed to have set up is nowhere to be found. It is all about politics”, Obasi said.

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