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•26 persons dead, 17 Houses burnt as gunmen invade Ebonyi Community

•We counted 26 dead bodies —Eye witness 

•Middle-aged man killed a week to his wedding in Ebonyi

 •Gunmen invade  Atani, kill 4

By Vincent Ujumadu,Peter Okutu & Chimaobi Nwaiwu

Gunmen operations have claimed 31 lives in Ebonyi and  Anambra States within the last 72hours.

In Ebonyi State, the people of Effium/Ezza-Effium in Ohaukwu and part of Ebonyi Local Government Areas were early in the week thrown into a state of mourning and confusion, following the unfortunate invasion of the affected communities by suspected assailants described as “Effium warlords” in the state.

This is even as a middle-aged man was killed a week before his wedding in the state.

In Anambra, gunmen yesterday attacked the police station in Atani, the headquarters of Ogbaru local government area of Anambra State, killing four policemen, including a female cop on duty.

It was gathered that the gunmen launched the attack at about 1 am and took everybody unawares.

Ebonyi Attack

The attack in Ebonyi State, according to a detailed investigation, claimed more than twenty-six (26) lives and destroyed seventeen (17) houses in the early hours of Sunday, 10th April 2022.

The affected villages included Ohagelede, Umuezeoka, Ebbiaji and Ebbeta, all in Ezza/Effium and part of Ebonyi Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State.

During an unscheduled visit to the affected villages, people were seen in groups mourning their beloved family members who were killed during the attack while others were busy relocating members of their families, including properties for fear of further attacks by the suspected assailants.

According to an eyewitness,  Daniel Nwanga from Umuezeoka village, the incident happened in the early hours of Sunday, at Ezza villages of Ohagelede, Umuezeoka, Ebbeta and part of Ebonyi Local Government Areas, where the alleged assailants from Effium invaded the Ezza speaking side of the community.

The gunmen allegedly massacred over 26 persons and destroyed 17 houses in the area.

Nwanga stated that the government ordered a ceasefire two weeks ago, which they obeyed, but that they never knew that their enemies would come to launch another attack against them.

“In the past three weeks, the government has ordered a ceasefire in this community and we agreed to obey because we don’t disobey any order from the government.

“The assailants came in hundreds from Ogbabruagu village and killed four there; another four at Ebiaji; another four at Ogbaenyigwe and came to Ebbeta and killed six.

“They went to Izzi-speaking area to trace our people and also killed eight there and burnt more than seventeen houses.

“The incident happened yesterday  (Sunday) around 6:00 am and kept operating till 2:00 pm. We called the army from Nweke Ndiagu but before they came, the gunmen had already left.

“We counted 26 dead bodies. Government should know that we are law-abiding citizens and should know those who committed this atrocity and those sponsoring them should be arrested and prosecuted.”

Also speaking, Mr Moses Nwafor from Ebbeta whose wife, stepmother, grandson and younger brother were killed stated that he doesn’t know that the war was still ongoing because there was a ceasefire agreement.

He lamented over the loss of four of his family members, including his wife.

“Yesterday, (Sunday), I started hearing gunshots from afar. Those warlords from Effium came with matchets, and guns; they killed my wife, my stepmother, my grandson and my younger brother.

“Their burial is ongoing now. Since this incident started, they told us to respect peace talk, which we did but never knew they will come to attack us.”

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Also, Mr Nwigwe Joseph, Uchenna Nwite, and Eucharia Nwakpa amongst others lamented that they have lost almost all they had, following the attack.

“The entire village surrendered their arms in obedience to the ceasefire agreement, which Ebonyi State Government instituted but to our greatest surprise, the affected villages were invaded and many people killed.”

Reacting to the ugly incident, the Chairman of Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Clement Odah condemned the attack, stating that he will work hard to unravel those behind the attack, so that they will face the full weight of the law and sympathized with the affected families.

A statement signed by him read: “Ohaukwu Local Government Council has received with concern, a report of the unfortunate incident at Ohaogelode village, in Ishieke Community.

“The council condemns the incident in strong terms and reassures all that no stone will be left unturned to unravel the true circumstances that led to such avoidable loss of lives and properties.

“The council has initiated a spirited and discreet investigation to unveil the perpetrators of the act and ensure that justice is done. Our heartfelt sympathies go to all the affected families and our beloved brothers from Ohaogelode village.

“The Council re-affirms that both Ishieke and Effium communities have lived in peace as brothers from time immemorial and this peace must not be tampered with.

“The government of Ebonyi State under our peace-loving governor has worked assiduously to restore peace in the entire Ebonyi State and all hands must be on deck to achieve the task of a peaceful Ebonyi State where love and unity reign supreme. Once again, all parties are assured that justice must be done as a deterrent and guarantee against future re-occurrence.”

Man killed a week before his wedding

Also in Ebonyi State, the reported incident of the killing of a middle-aged man, Chukwuemeka Issac by unknown gunmen has triggered fear among the citizens of the state.

The victim who was killed around his shop at Chukwu Ofoke Street, Amikeaba, Ebonyi Local Government Area of the state at about 9p.m, has left his would-be wife devastated and confused.

Investigations revealed that the victim owns a shop at the International Market where he deals in provisions.

The incident, according to the wife, Favour Chioma, happened at about 9 pm when they had closed their shop and were about to enter their vehicle.

“Some boys accosted us. The first shot into the air, then ordered Nnaemeka to lie down and shot him three times; collected my phone and left.”

While some are arguing that he was shot twice, others said it was three times.

The victim, who is from Obeagu Enyibichiri Alike of  Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, had planned to wed his heartthrob on Saturday, 23rd April 2022 at St. Thomas Chapel, Pastoral Centre Mile 50, Abakaliki, before his untimely demise.

The victim was from a family of nine children; three girls and six boys.

Many are still bewildered because of the incident, as some believe that the incident could be cult-related.

“Unfortunately, the suspects that shot him collected the wife’s phone and didn’t collect that of the victim.”

Contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Loveth Odah who stated that the incident had been reported to the Kpirikpiri Divisional Police Station added that the State Commissioner of Police, CP Garba Aliyu has advised the victim’s family to come to the Headquarters of the command to make useful statements that would enable the Police to swing into action.

“The matter was reported at Kpirikpiri Divisional Police. We want the case transferred to the Headquarters. The Commissioner of Police wants the case properly investigated and the suspects arrested.

“The victim was taken to an undisclosed hospital, where he was confirmed dead.”

Gunmen invade Atani, Nnewi, kill 4 policemen

In Anambra State, unknown gunmen killed four Policemen attached to the Atani Police Station, Ogbaru Local Government Area of the state, after attacking the station.

The unknown gunmen who attacked the Atani Police Station were said to have ambushed the Policemen on duty in the early hours of the day and the Policemen engaged them in exchange for gun battle but lost four of their men to the gunmen who were said to have taken them unaware.

“The gunmen who invaded Atani Police Station shot non-stop and killed some policemen before burning the station,” Vanguard learnt.

In Nnewi, pandemonium broke out in the early hours of yesterday at the Chikason traffic light as people ran helter-skelter for their lives following sporadic shooting by unknown gunmen.

An eyewitness told Vanguard that the unknown gunmen who invaded the Chikason traffic area operated in three vehicles and were shooting recklessly at people who sighted them and took them to their heels, adding that the gunmen left almost immediately.

However, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Ikenga Tochukwu, who confirmed the incident said that the Nnewi incident involved a tricycle operator and a vehicle, adding that the commotion which resulted from the accident, led to a protest by the tricycle operators, but noted that no life was lost as Police in Nnewi took control of the situation.

Also confirming the shooting at Atani, Ogbaru council area, Ikenga, said the State Police Command lost four gallant men during a duel with the gunmen.

He said the attack on the Atani Police Station took place around 1 am on Wednesday, adding that security operatives were still on the hunt for the hoodlums.

“The hoodlums came around 1 am, and unlucky for us, four police operatives paid the supreme price.

“The commissioner of police, CP Echeng Echeng on hearing of the attack immediately mobilized men of the command from various units to the area.

“The hoodlums were still there when the CP personally led men of the command to the affected area, and their timely arrival saved the day as the hoodlums were successfully repelled and the facility was saved.

“We have commenced intelligence-gathering already and we hope to unravel the persons behind the attack”.

The state Police spokesman further disclosed that the Police Station at Atani was not razed as speculated, but partially torched by the hoodlums.

Some police formations in Anambra State have been under attack in recent times by unknown gunmen.

Among stations recently attacked were the Divisional Police Station, Ukpor in Nnewi South local government area; the Amichi police station also in Nnewi South; as well as the burning of the Aguata local government headquarters at Ekwulobia.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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