Bandits

•Orji Kalu allegedly flees; aborts visit to Ohafia


By Ugochukwu Alaribe & Steve Oko

Three persons, including a soldier, were reportedly killed, Wednesday, when gunmen clashed with soldiers in Ohafia, Abia State.


This is as the Senate Chief Whip and Senator representing Abia North, Orji Kalu, who was on a visit to Ohafia at the time of the incident, allegedly fled the town in the ensuing confusion.


There were however, different versions of what actually happened, as some reports say the former governor was chased out of Ohafia by the gunmen.


But a source close to him dismissed the version as a ruse, saying he was never chased out of the town by anybody.


Senator Kalu had gone to Ohafia in continuation of his ward-to-ward tour of the zone when the incident happened.


According to one of the versions, the senator had allegedly been warned by the gunmen to stay away from Ohafia in his political engagements.


They said there was a bottled-up anger against him for his alleged passive attitude towards the plight of the zone that has come under intense attack by bandits suspected to be herdsmen.


It was also alleged that some of his constituents are not happy the way the Senator was allegedly championing causes like the Muslim-Muslim ticket, and Northern presidency, instead of showing similar concern over the threat of insecurity in the zone.


Sources said that when the Senator decided to visit Ohafia, gunmen apparently feeling dared, stormed the venue of his visit and started shooting into the air.“It was said that the Senator and his entourage scampered for safety and allegedly fled to the Headquarters of 14 Brigade Nigeria Army for protection.


Local sources further said that the gunmen later blocked Asaga junction apparently to ambush the former Governor on his way out of Ohafia before they were allegedly engaged in a gun duel with soldiers escorting him back to his Igbere Community.


Two persons were reportedly killed during the ensuing gun duel.
When contacted, one of his Media Aides, Mr Ken said he did not need to talk to our Correspondent and switched off his phone.“But another close ally of Kalu told Vanguard that the former governor was not the target of the gunmen, denying that he was chased out of Ohafia.


Kalu’s ally who pleaded for anonymity rather explained that the Senate Chief Whip and his entourage had visited some communities in Ohafia including Okon and Amangwu before coming to Ebem without any hitches.


He said that the Senator was holding meeting with his Ebem hosts when the gunmen stormed the venue and said they did not want to have politicians holding any political gathering in the area.


According to him, when they were told it was Senator Kalu, they retreated and said he could carry on with his programme.


” But unfortunately, I don’t know the issue they had with a soldier when they left the place that resulted into a quarrel between them and soldiers.


” Even when Senator Kalu was going, some of the boys were hailing him. Nobody chased him out of Ohafia. It was a pure lie.”


When contacted, a source close to the 14 Brigade Nigeria Army told our Correspondent that the Senator did not run to the barracks for any reason.


The source which pleaded for anonymity said that the gunmen were actually in town on Wednesday when a soldier went to town to shop and was attacked by them.


” They were in town when a soldier came to buy something and they identified him and matcheted him. Soldiers went on a rescue operation following a distress call, and discovered that the soldier had been matcheted to the ground. But the soldiers were able to kill two of the hoodlums. “The source, however, said that normalcy had returned to the town.

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