•It’s not an appropriate response —Uzodinmma
•Orders high powered investigation
•As Gunmen burn Imo police station, kill cop
By Chinonso Alozie
The Imo State government yesterday, described as “inappropriate response,” the action of the soldiers who burnt houses, shops, vehicles of residents of Awonmanma in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State, last Monday in retaliation of one of the soldiers allegedly killed by unknown gunmen in the area.
The governor spoke through the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba.
The governor’s reason was that two wrongs would not make a right. He, however, ordered a full-blown investigation to ascertain the cause of the crisis and the extent of loss of properties involved.
The governor who condemned the killing of a soldier and the burning of properties belonging to Awo-omama residents also promised that his government was going to assist the victims to recover from the loss.
According to the government, “Imo State Government is shocked and dismayed over the events in Awo-omama in Oru East local government area of the state. The ugly event is regrettable and avoidable.
“Government condemns the murder of a soldier by the so-called unknown gunmen. Certainly, this soldier who was on a legitimate duty to ensure free flow of traffic and to protect lives and property on this fateful Monday of November 22nd did not deserve to die such a gruesome death.
“On the other hand, government deprecates reports of wanton destruction of property visited on the community by aggrieved soldiers. The indiscriminate burning of residential and businesses premises of innocent citizens was not an appropriate response since two wrongs will never make a right. Government has good reasons to believe that there is more to the sad event than meets the eyes.
“Consequently, His Excellency, Senator Hope Uzodimma, the Executive Governor of Imo State has ordered a high-powered investigation into the incident to unravel the cause of the crisis and the attendant loss of lives and property.
“Government, therefore, advises both parties to exercise utmost restraint and maintain peace while the investigation lasts. Government appreciates the enormous sacrifice by security agencies with the attendant risks, to keep lmo for all law-abiding citizens. Equally, government restates its charge to security agencies in the state to always abide by the rules of engagement as spelled out by their services while carrying out their legitimate assignments.
“On the other hand, communities are advised to always cooperate with security agencies to track down and arrest criminals in their midst.
“Finally, government extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of the dead soldier while deeply sympathising with the victims of the crisis, promising to take immediate measures to ameliorate their losses while at the same time, ensuring that such an ugly incident does not re-occur,” the Imo government promised.
One soldier killed as troops disperse IPOB members in Imo —Army
However, the Nigerian Army has explained how a soldier was killed during an operation in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State where troops dispersed alleged IPOB members who were setting properties of residents ablaze.
According to a statement signed by Major Abubakar Abdullahi, the Acting Deputy Director, Army Public Relations 82 Division Nigerian Army, the IPOB members set ablaze properties of innocent residents to compel them to comply with the sit-at-home order.
READ ALSO: Army vs Unknown gunmen: Burning of houses, shops not an appropriate response — Uzodimma pleads
“Troops conducting Exercise Golden Dawn dispersed IPOB/ESN hoodlums carrying out arson while enforcing the illegitimate sit-at-home order imposed by the proscribed group at Awo-mmamma community, Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State on 22 November 2021.
“In the quest to compel citizens to comply with the unlawful order, IPOB/ESN criminals indulged in harassment, intimidation, and physical abuse of commuters going about their lawful businesses. The criminals went further to carry out arson and destruction of businesses and homes at Ishieke junction (along Owerri-Onitsha expressway) as a vendetta against the citizens for not complying with the illegal order.
“The hoodlums who had earlier blocked the highway, set ablaze a commercial vehicle heading towards Onitsha. Vigilant troops responding to distress calls by motorists and shop owners swiftly moved to the scene and engaged the hoodlums in a firefight and dispersed them.
“The troops pursued the hoodlums to their hideout in Akatta Community in Oru East LGA, where a member of the group was neutralized in a shootout. While the troops engaged the hoodlums in their hideout, other members of the group who alleged that some individuals had volunteered information to the troops mustered at Ishieke junction and set ablaze houses and businesses of law-abiding citizens.
“The troops again returned to the junction to disperse the hoodlums. Unfortunately, a gallant soldier paid the supreme prize in defence of the people,” the statement by the Nigerian Army read in part.
Gunmen burn Imo Police station, kill cop
Meantime, unidentified gunmen, yesterday, attacked and burnt Arondizuogu police divisional headquarters in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State.
It was gathered that the attack left one of the police operatives dead.
The gunmen, it was learnt, inflicted a cut on the Divisional Police Officer’s head.
According to a source, vehicles parked at the station were also burnt.
“Gunmen attacked the Arondizuogu Divisional Police Headquarters. They killed a police officer and burnt the station.
“They also gave the DPO a cut on the head and vandalized his Jeep and a sienna vehicle belonging to the division”, the source said.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Micheal Abattam, confirmed the attack and added that the state commissioner of police, Rabiu Hussaini, had ordered investigation into the incident.