Tension as gunmen murder eight soldiers, policemen in Imo

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  • Uzodimma vows to fish out killers

  • LP governorship candidate condemns incessant killings in South East

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR & BENEDICT NWACHUKWU

Unidentified gunmen, on Tuesday, attacked and killed no fewer than eight security operatives, and also set ablaze two vehicles in Imo State.

According to the villagers, the joint security taskforce team who were on patrol in two security trucks were ambushed by the gunmen and their trucks set ablaze around the Oriagu and Aba branch area of the community.

It was gathered that the incident happened at about 11:30am.

The security agents affected were soldiers, policemen and men of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

The video clip of the attack, which went viral, saw about four lifeless bodies of soldiers in their uniforms and their guns.

Also, their two vehicles were in flames.

Imo State Police Command spokesman, Henry Okoye, confirmed that the attack occurred at Ehime Mbano local government area of the state, but did not immediately provide details because investigations were ongoing.

“Security has been beefed up in the area,” he added.

According to him, the Commissioner of Police, Stephen Olanrewaju has directed his men to go after the perpetrators.

Tension continued to rise within and outside the affected community.

According to a witness, “The incident just happened about two hours ago. At first, I saw the two Hilux vehicles as they drove from Oriagu heading to the Aba branch in Ehime Mbano.

“As I am talking to you now the Hilux vehicles are still on fire. The soldiers were burnt by the gunmen.

“Tension is everywhere. We have closed our shops. We are going home. We are seeing a lot of security operatives.

“They blocked the road. People are running to our homes. Our people are afraid anything can happen now.

“The first vehicle, I saw over five soldiers. In the second, I saw more than four security operatives. They said all of them were killed.”

However, Governor Hope Uzodimma has assured the public that those behind the Tuesday killing of security operatives would be fished out and made to face the law.

The hope was given in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to the Governor, Oguwike Nwachuku.

He said when Governor Uzodimma visited the scene of the ugly incident accompanied by the Imo State Commissioner of Police and the Director, Department of State Services; he expressed sadness over the lives lost.

He assured that “the State Government in collaboration with security agencies would fish out the perpetrators with a view to bringing them to book.”

Governor Uzodimma however urged the leaders and people of the communities in the area to avail the government and security agencies of the vital information they need to do their work.

He also prayed for God’s mercy for the victims and the fortitude for the families to bear the irreplaceable loss of their loved ones in the incident.

Also, the Labour Party gubernatorial candidate in the November 11 gubernatorial election, Athan Achonu has condemned the killing, saying it is reprehensible.

Achonu who hails from the Local Government Area said in a statement he personally signed, “I received with shock the news of the despicable murder of eight security operatives in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State today.

“That unconscionable murder of innocent security operatives in the line of duty is reprehensible, highly condemnable, and unacceptable in a modern society like ours.

“The latest onslaught in the recurrent sparks of violence is more condemnable because it happened in my own constituency.

“I feel particularly hurt by this carnage, having invested millions of my personal funds to repair nine faulty Armoured Personnel Carriers, out of which five were supposed to be deployed in Okigwe Zone to ensure the safety of these security operatives in the exercise of their high-risk job.”

The Labour Party standard bearer lamented that apart from using them to rig the last elections in the state, the government should explain the whereabouts of these vehicles and the uses to which they were deployed.

Apprehensive of what the dastard act would result in the security apparatuses during the forthcoming election, Achonu therefore called on the state government to deploy the same APCs in the area immediately for the safety of these security personnel.

“I hope the state government has not run short of ideas on how to secure the lives and property of the people, which is its primary assignment.

“It is inexplicable that Imo State has become a war theatre and epicenter of violence and bloodbath in the entire South East.

“I also call on the Federal Government to rejig the entire security apparatchik in Imo State because Ndi Imo shall no longer accept this horrific waste of lives and property.

“While I condole the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Police Force and the entire security network, and families of the fallen heroes, I also plead with the people shedding innocent blood to desist.

“I also charge Ndi Imo not to surrender to the blackmail of the enemy of the people but to remain resolute in their desire to enthrone light over darkness,” he said.

Like other states in Nigeria’s South East, security has deteriorated in Imo State with frequent attacks by armed persons.

The attacks often target security agencies, government officials and facilities.

Hundreds of people, including traditional rulers, have been killed and injured in such attacks.

The Federal Government has accused the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra of being responsible for the deadly attacks in the region. But the group has repeatedly denied the accusation.

The separatist group is leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra which it wants carved out from the South East and some parts of South South Nigeria.