•Open fire on passengers in Enugu; kill 2
•Police recover 3 undetonated explosives
•As S-East shuts down
•Anambra workers, intercity transporters remain adamant, defy Soludo’s orders
•Traders to shun markets
•Soludo visits offices within Govt House as work resumes, meets with market women
By Vincent Ujumadu, Chidi Nkwopara, Nwabueze Okonkwo, Chinonso Alozie & Chinedu Adonu, Owerri
Unknown gunmen in the early hours of yesterday, attacked Obowo Police Station in Obowo Local Government Area of Imo state, with petrol bombs and explosive devices, causing damage to the building and injuring some police officers on duty.
The attack came as another set of gunmen, suspected to be enforcing the sit-at-home order, struck around Colliery Hospital early yesterday morning, and shot dead some passengers.
The State Police Public Relations Officers, PPRO, in Imo State Michael Abattam, who confirmed the attack in Imo, said the hoodlums launched the attack from the thick forest behind the Police station.
The police said the officers on duty immediately engaged the hoodlums and chased them back to the forest, adding that during the chase, some arms and ammunition were recovered, including three undetonated explosives.
“On the 28th day of March 2022 at about 0200 hours, armed men suspected to be members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra ( IPOB )/ Eastern Security Network ( ESN ), its militia wing, came in their numbers from the rear of the division, which is an ungoverned forest, threw petrol bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices(IED) that fell on the transit camp and a vehicle, shooting sporadically.
“The police operatives of the division and some of the Command’s Tactical Teams responded swiftly, engaging the hoodlums in a fierce gun duel, preventing them from gaining entrance to the station and in the process, forced the hoodlums into retreating and they escaped back into the forest with various degrees of bullet wounds.
“The police operatives gave them a hot chase and while combing the bush, the following items were recovered on the spot: three(3) undetonated Explosives, four(4) expended AK 47 RIFLES ammunition, five(5) live cartridges, thirty-three (33) expended cartridges, two masks, one pump action gun and a motor saw machine.”
“Meanwhile, apart from the minimal damage to the transit camp and a vehicle, no life was lost. However, the police operative who sustained a minor gunshot injury has been treated,” Police said.
Fear grips Enugu residents as UGM open fire on passengers
On the gunmen attack in Enugu, Vanguard learnt that the passengers left their homes early to attend to their businesses when bullets rained on the commuter bus conveying them.
At press time yesterday, the number of casualties could not be ascertained but sources claimed that at least two persons were killed, while the police said there was no death.
Our source said the gunmen struck around Colliery Hospital early yesterday morning, “shot dead some passengers going out for morning business”.
The police reportedly intervened and brought in two victims who sustained gunshot wounds to Parklane Hospital.
Spokesman of Enugu Police command, ASP Daniel Ndukwe, who confirmed the incident, said there was no death recorded.
He said: “There was a shooting incident at Odegba, along Iva Valley Road, Enugu in the early hours of this morning (yesterday), by yet-to-be-identified armed men, which led to the injuring of two persons.
“However, the victims are responding to treatment at the hospital where they were promptly taken to by Police operatives, who swiftly responded to a distress call on the incident.
“Meanwhile, the investigation has been launched to fish out the fleeing miscreants.”
Lockdown in Imo
Meanwhile, commercial activities in Imo State, literally came to a halt yesterday, following full compliance with the sit-at-home order.
Streets in Owerri municipality were largely deserted, while schools, markets, shops and government offices remained under lock when Vanguard did a random check on the situation in the capital city.
The ever-busy commercial streets of Rotobi, Douglas, Wetheral, Tetlow, Royce, Mbaise, Christ Church, School Road and Old Market Road, were turned into playgrounds for youngsters when Vanguard passed through the areas.
Most Inter and intra-city commercial vehicle drivers kept off the roads and this resulted in very light traffic in the municipality.
Virtually all the courts in Owerri, including the Court of Appeal, did not sit yesterday.
A staff of the Court of Appeal, who spoke on strict grounds of anonymity, confirmed that the court would not sit.
The staff said: “The Court will not sit today (yesterday). The faceless armed men wrote, threatening to strike since the Court continues to sit, not minding the sit-at-home order.
“I wish I had the letter handy, as I speak to you (Vanguard), I would have given it to you. Nobody likes to die. This explains why we closed shop.”
Anambra workers, intercity transporters remain adamant, defy Soludo’s orders
ANAMBRA State observed the worst Monday sit-at-home in recent times yesterday, despite an order given by the state governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, directing workers to be at their duty posts and for people to go about their businesses.
Soludo had during his inauguration on March 17, spoke about the damage being done to the economy of the state by the continued sit-at-home, arguing that the state was losing millions of naira every week because of it.
He specifically urged the civil servants to be at their duty posts to avoid being sanctioned.
But at the Jerome Udorji secretariat in Awka yesterday, most offices were empty and the few workers who reported for duty were seen leaving for home at about 12.30 pm.
Some civil servants residing outside the state capital who spoke with Vanguard on phone said they made attempt to obey the governor’s order, but could not find vehicles to convey them to Awka.
It was observed that most intercity transport operators, including the government-owned Transport Company of Anambra State, TRACAS, did not operate yesterday.
Similarly, the numerous government buses designated to convey workers to offices from Onitsha, Nnewi, Ekwulobia, Otuocha, among other towns, did not operate.
In Awka, Keke and shuttle buses were, however, operated, though patronage was low.
Although Awka’s main market was opened, most of the shops were not open for business and some traders who managed to get to the market had to go back home.
The shopping malls in the major cities were also not opened, apparently out of fear of attack by unknown gunmen who had earlier threatened to deal with people who disobeyed the sit-at-home order.
However, some filling stations attended to customers, although they dispensed fuel at between N230 and N250 per litre of PMS, against the N200 per litre the product sold on Sunday.
Also, some banks attended to customers with utmost care as their gates were half-closed while allowing customers inside.
An Awka- based businessman, Mr Hyacinth Nwabueze, accused commercial bus operators of encouraging the sit-at-home by withdrawing their vehicles from the road every Monday, urging the governor to direct his attention to them.
“Don’t mind the threat letters written by faceless people ordering people to sit at home. Once the commercial vehicles move from one town to the other, the sit at home will end,” Nwabueze said.
Markets, banks remain shut in Onitsha
In what looked like defiance of Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s directive on civil servants, traders and transporters in Anambra state to shun Monday sit-at-home and open for businesses, residents of the commercial city of Onitsha remained indoors, yesterday, to observe the weekly exercise, while commercial activities were shut in all parts of the commercial city and its environs, following the persistent sit-at-home embarked upon by the residents as a mark of solidarity with the detained IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
Soludo had met with top civil servants and market leaders in the state during which he asked them to stop observing sit-at-home every Monday as, according to him, the state usually lost about N9 billion on weekly basis in trying to observe the exercise, apart from other major losses.
Soludo had equally pledged to meet with leaders of IPOB over the matter during his recent inaugural ceremony.
In their response, the civil servants and market leaders assured the governor that they would relay his message to their followers for consideration.
But yesterday, markets, banks, offices, petrol stations and vehicular movements were as usual halted for the day, except for pedestrians and a few tricyclists who moved about in short distances.
Speaking on the development, some residents of Nkpor and Onitsha, Ben Okoko, Maurice Efobi, Ejike Efobi, and Pere Oseme, said although IPOB has officially cancelled the Mondays’ exercise, the residents were still afraid to come out and go about their normal businesses on Mondays.
They said they won’t blame the residents for not coming out because if anything untoward happened to them, they would have themselves to blame.
Soludo visits offices within Govt House, meet with market women
Meanwhile, Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, yesterday visited some offices within Government House.
It will be recalled that the Head of Service, Anambra State, Theodora Igwegbe earlier last week issued a circular to all civil servants to report to work every Monday of the week, against the sit-at-home order issued by some non-state actors.
Prof Soludo on assuming office as governor of Anambra State had appealed to all armed groups to lay down their arms and come out of the forest to join hands in building the state.
He had also at several fora, decried the Monday weekly sit-at-home which has deeply affected the economic activities of the state.
However, the spokesman of the governor, Christian Aburime, said yesterday that there was substantial compliance with the governor’s directive for workers to report for work but noted that with time, there would be full compliance and the sit-at-home order would fizzle out.