•Burn Idemili North Council headquaters; EEDC facility, vehicles
•As Police kill two gunmen enforcing sit-at-home order; launch manhunt for kidnappers of Soludo’s lawmaker
•Police kill 6 suspected hoodlums, one vehicle burnt in Imo
•Tension as IPOB move to enforce sit at home order in Asaba; One feared dead, schools closed; Govt issue warning, ask security to deal with adherents
By Vincent Ujumadu, Festus Ahon, Chinedu Adonu & Chinonso Alozie, Awka
As residents of Anambra State were still weighing in on the likely impact of Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s weekend visit to the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, gunmen struck in three locations in parts of the state yesterday.
The attacks put fear on the people who apparently thought that the governor’s visit might end yesterday’s sit-at-home, but it did not as gunmen struck at the Ogidi headquarters of Idemili North local government area, the military checkpoint at the highbrow 3-3 Housing Estate in Onitsha and at Eke Oko in Aguata local government area.
However, the Anambra State Police command yesterday killed two gunmen allegedly enforcing Monday sit-at-home order despite its cancellation by the leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
In a related development, the Imo State Police Command said six suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, were killed yesterday on their way to attack the palace of the Imo State chairman of Traditional Rulers, Eze Emmanuel Okeke in Amaifeke community in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State.
At Eke Oko where the gunmen struck, an identified middle aged man wearing a police vest with the inscription “Say No to Crime” and riding on a motorcycle, was shot dead by an unknown person.
Some people in the area said the victim might actually not be a policeman, especially as the state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr Tochukwu Ikenga said there was no report of the death of any policeman in the area.
The victim’s motor cycle was still lying beside him as people tried to identify who he is.
Also in the early hours of yesterday, a section of Idemili North local government area headquarters, Ogidi was set ablaze by unknown arsonists.
While some people in the local government claimed that it was a fire incident caused by electrical fault, others said it was done by unknown gunmen.
No fewer than four official vehicles, as well as the Magistrate Court located inside the local government and a building housing the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC were burnt.
The Head, Corporate Communications, EEDC, Mr. Emeka Ezeh, who relayed this development through a release issued yesterday, stated that the incident occurred in the early hours of yesterday, 16th May, 2022, at about 1.45am.
Ezeh lamented that efforts made to reach the Anambra State Fire Service at the time to come and rescue the situation did not yield any positive result, leaving members of staff who were on ground to assist in salvaging the situation helpless, as they watched the office building and other assets go down in flames.
According to him, “It later took the intervention of the Commissioner for Utilities, Anambra State, Julius Chukwuemeka, at about 9.05am to bring the Fire Service team down to the scene of the incident”.
The management of EEDC expressed shock over this ugly incident which is happening at a time the company has invested so much to improve on its operations and transform the socio-economic landscape of the area.
“This is a big loss to EEDC, and a great setback to the efforts being made by the company to strengthen its network and improve the quality of service to its customers within Ogidi and Anambra State at large.
“We have already brought this development to the attention of the relevant authorities and it is expected that proper investigation will be carried out and the perpetrators of this dastardly act brought to book.
“There is no way a developing economy as ours can progress if we continue to record this kind of incident”.
It was gathered that having gained access into the office complex by pulling down part of the wall, the criminals attacked one of the security personnel manning the office and inflicted several machete wounds on his head, leg and arm as they were demanding for his gun, while his other colleagues ran for their lives. The victim is currently receiving treatment at the hospital.
“We thank God that no life was lost, we condemn this unjustifiable act and pray such does not reoccur”.
The state PPRO, Tochukwu Ikenga confirmed the Ogidi incident, explaining that the swift intervention by the neighbours and police operatives quelled the fire. No lives were lost.
Also on Sunday night, gunmen attacked some military men and engaged them in a shoot- out at 3-3 Estate, Nkwelle Ezunaka, near the city of Onitsha.
An eye witness said the shooting lasted several hours and scared the residents of the area.
A resident of the Estate said: “Yesterday night, at housing estate gate, unknown gunmen attacked the military men securing us. The shooting lasted almost three hours.
“After leaving our area, we started hearing gun shots at the nearby Government Reserved Area (GRA) in Onitsha”.
The state police command confirmed the Onitsha shooting although no casualties were reported.
Meanwhile, the Monday sit at home was obeyed beyond imagination yesterday as even private schools that used to open in the past, ordered pupils who went to school to go home.
The streets of Awka were deserted more than ever as inter city transport was virtually not operating.
Most workers in the state were also absent from their duty posts while the banks and shopping malls were closed.
Police kill 2 gunmen enforcing sit-at-home order in Anambra
However, the police in the state killed two gunmen enforcing the sit-at-home. The state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr.Tochukwu Ikenga, in a statement in Awka, said the incident happened along Umunze road in Orumba South local government area of the state.
The statement read: “The Anambra State Command operatives on crime prevention patrol, in the early hours of today 16/5/2022 (Monday) along Umunze road, Orumba South LGA, engaged arm-bearing gunmen allegedly enforcing sit – at – home in Anambra State.
“The operatives neutralized two of the miscreants and recovered a white Toyota Hiace bus with no registration number.
“Further details showed that these miscreants were obstructing the movement of innocent road users going about their businesses.
“The hoodlums forcefully collected their motorbikes and tricycles, chased away the passengers and then set the motorcycles and tricycles ablaze”.
The PPRO said the Command had intensified patrol within the state, adding that the situation was being monitored
Police launch manhunt for kidnappers of Soludo’s lawmaker
Meantime, the Anambra State Police Command also said that it had launched manhunt for the kidnappers of the member of the state House of Assembly representing Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s Aguata 11 constituency, Dr. Okechukwu Okoye.
The command said efforts were on to rescue the kidnapped lawmaker.
Okoye, who is an indigene of Isuofia community as Governor Soludo, was kidnapped in Aguata on Sunday.
Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr Tochukwu Ikenga, while confirming the kidnap of Okoye, said the lawmaker’s black Sienna bus which he was driving at the time of the incident, had been recovered.
Meanwhile, the traditional ruler of Isuofia, Igwe C.A.O. Muoghalu has described the kidnap of Okoye as a rude shock to the people of the community.
In a statement signed by his palace secretary, Mr. Chukwujekwu Orajiuka, the royal father said: “It is with shock, grief and contempt that HRH, Igwe (Col.) C.A. O Muoghalu received the Sunday, 15th May, 2022, sad kidnapping of (Dr.) Okechukwu Okoye, the member representing Aguata II State Constituency, and one of the foremost sons of Isuofia community in Aguata local government area of Anambra State.
“His Highness condemns in strongest terms the kidnapping of Dr. Okoye.This is one of the worst crimes unimaginably committed against not only the Isuofia community, but the Aguata II State Constituency and the generality of Anambra. There can be no excuses for this wicked act.
“No one should ever go through the traumatic experience of being a victim of violence, be it political or otherwise.
“Nigeria seems to be living through the normalisation of political violence and abduction has remained a stubbornly grim part of the electioneering life in the rest of Nigeria. And so, the plot to vanquish the political pursuits of Dr. Okoye is totally condemned.
“But we must be honest about what it really is: the result of violent, hateful, vengeful and divisive rhetoric that is all too common across our country. There must be consequences for those who commit these heinous crimes.
“His Highness has urged the security agencies to spare no efforts in taking significant steps to rescue Okechukwu Okoye, and holding to account those responsible for this heinous violations of his human rights.
“His Highness thereupon calls for the immediate and unconditional release and safe return of Dr. OkeChukwu Okoye, failing which the land of Isuofia shall fight her own causes till the contrivers of this evil are put to doom.”
While urging prayers for Dr. Okoye’s safety, “His Highness reaffirms the solidarity and support of Isuofia community to the government in their fight against terrorism, organized crime and violent political theatrics.”
Police kill 6 suspected hoodlums, one vehicle burnt in Imo
According to the Police, the hoodlums came in three Hilux vehicles and on seeing the combined team of police and military men, they opened gunfire on them and in the process, they threw a petrol bomb on one of the security vehicles which burnt the vehicle.
However, the police said that apart from killing six of the hoodlums in a counter attack, the joint security operatives were trailing the fleeing hoodlums to arrest them in the forest.
Explaining how it happened, the police said: “On 16/5/2022 at about 0800 hours in Orlu, hoodlums suspected to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra,IPOB, and its armed affiliate, Eastern Security Network , ESN, were sighted in three Hilux vehicles shooting sporadically and fiercely advancing towards the Palace of Imo State Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Highness, Eze Dr E. C Okeke to unleash terror therein.
“On receipt of the information, the Command’s Tactical Team joined by the military immediately mobilized and rushed to the palace. On their way, the hoodlums on sighting the combined team engaged them in gun duel, throwing petrol bombs. The gallant team responded, positioning themselves professionally. In the exchange of gunfire that ensued, the hoodlums were overwhelmed due to the superior firepower of the combined team and in the process, six of the hoodlums were neutralized while others escaped with various degrees of gunshot injuries.
“The combined team did not relent in their effort. They chased the hoodlums and recovered one pump action gun, three blood-stained cutlasses and three Hilux vehicles suspected to have been snatched from innocent citizens.
“However, calm has been restored in the area and the corpses of the neutralized bandits removed and deposited in the mortuary.
“On the side of the combined team, no life was lost apart from one of the police vehicles that got burnt due to the fire that ignited it from the petrol bomb.
“Meanwhile, efforts are on top gear to arrest other fleeing hoodlums and security in Orlu and its environs has been beefed up to forest all any further attack in the area,” Police said.
Tension as IPOB move to enforce sit-at-home order in Asaba
Meanwhile in Asaba, yesterday, there was tension, following attempt to enforce the sit-at-home order by persons, believed to be adherents of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
The development led to the closure of schools in Okwe, Bonsaac, Oko, Akwuebulu Oduke and Osadenis in the Asaba metropolis considered as base of the secessionist elements.
For fear of the unknown, the popular Ogbogonogo Market did not open for business until 12 noon but owners of the shops were seen around but did not open for business.
A dependable source said some parents in the affected areas were called by teachers to come and pick their children from school.
The source said one person was killed as a result of indiscriminate shooting at Bonsaac, lamenting that the development heightened tension in the capital city.
The source said: “They said the people (IPOB) enter basic school and asked the pupils to go home, no single pupil received lectures in the school today.”
Meanwhile, the state government has asked security agencies to deal with anyone caught trying to enforce the sit at home order in Asaba
The State Government in a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Patrick Ukah, assured of the security of lives and properties of residents.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Bright Edafe when contacted, said the command was not aware of the killing.
Saying that the command had drafted personnel to all parts of state to provide security to the people, Edafe assured residents of Asaba to go about their normal businesses.