Gunmen raid Enugu community, set over 35 houses & market ablaze

Gunmen raid Enugu community, set over 35 houses & market ablaze
Charles Nwoke, Enugu, Nigeria

January 28, 2021

Update created 27/01/2021

Image provided by community source. 

There was total pandemonium as a resident was said to have been terribly wounded while over 35 houses and a market were razed down as gunmen said to be members of rival cultist groups ambushed the Oruku community in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State.

It was gathered that the incident occurred between 6:30 pm Saturday and 7:30 am Sunday respectively.

During the time that Mohammed Aliyu, Enugu State Commissioner of Police, alongside newsmen paid a visit to the violent community, some of the buildings were still on fire.

Very few natives were seen within the community as residents ran away because of fear of being killed by the raging gunmen reported to be holding AK-47 rifles and GPMG.

The Traditional Ruler of Aguikpa autonomous community’s palace and brother of the late traditional ruler of Oruku autonomous community, Igwe Emmanuel Mbah, who was reportedly shot dead by a team of policemen from Abuja on December 26, 2020, were deserted.

Ejike Ani, Chairman of Nkanu East Local Government Council former Chairman, who conducted the Commissioner round the houses destroyed, said he got the ugly news that some group of people were going to attack the community and reported it to their Council Chairman.

Ani said the Chairman, Mr. Uchenna Nwobodo, assured him that he had reported to the police but unfortunately, the community was ambushed and over 35 houses and a market were set ablaze.

He narrated, “I saw a post on the social media on the indigenous people of Oruku Facebook account that some natives have hired some people from Benue state and that Oruku community will be attacked in less than one week and less than one week we were attacked.

“I called the council chairman, Uchenna Nwobodo, and told him that this is what is happening.

“He said he has called the Divisional Police Officer of Amechi Idodo and you can see the end result,” he said.

Ani, who gave insight into the origin of the pogrom said, “We got a secular from the commissioner of police that all illegal arms should be handed over to traditional ruler for onward handover to the police division nearest. We held a meeting and in the meeting, we agreed that we are handing over our arms.

“The 20 AK-47 rifles and two GPMG guns we had along the line because of what has been going on with STS and our community, two AK-47 were returned and handed over to the State Director, DSS in 2020.

“So, some community members are still having 18 AK-47 and they are using those guns now to hunt the people that went for the peace process, the people that signed the agreement with Umuode community and people that told the government that this is the arms we have and we are ready to hand them over to the government,” he added.

However, the Chairman of Oruku Neighbourhood Watch, Mr. Emmanuel Ani, urged both the federal and state government for immediate intervention to rescue the community from those who have refused to give room for peace.

He attributed the conflict in the community to the alleged connivance of the Commander of Inspector General of Police Special Tactical Squad, whom he said disarmed the neighborhood watch and freed hooligans they apprehended and handed over to the police in the state, to continue to unleash mayhem on them.

According to the Neighborhood Watch Boss, “We couldn’t stop the carnage because we were disarmed by IG STS. They collected four pump actions given to us by the state government. So, it made us very handicapped in fighting the crimes in the community and that was why cultists are committing a lot of crimes here.

“As you can see more than 35 houses and 20 shops have been razed by these cultists and their sponsors. This is only done last night. So the community is just helpless. We are just praying that God in his mercy will rescue this community.”

He was visibly unhappy over the burning of his cousin’s house where he is living and his uncle’s house as well.

A widow in the warring community, who is still mourning the painful exit of her husband said to have been buried on Thursday, Mrs. Nwatu, told the commissioner that the arsonists came to her house at about 6:30 pm, asked her to come out or they would burn her with the house.

She narrated, “Immediately I came out they burnt the house. Not even appeals that I am mourning my husband could change their mind. They wanted to burn me inside the house. They burnt everything including our clothes.”

Recall that the unfortunate incident occurred less than a month after the traditional ruler was said to have been shot dead by men of the Special Weapons and Tactical Squad (SWAT), on December 26, 2020, during the annual general meeting at the community’s Town Hall.

The murder of the Igwe reportedly resulted in aggression and the burning of houses and other valuable property of those suspected to be behind the killing of the Royal Father.

However, Aliyu, the Enugu State Police Commissioner, who later briefed newsmen described the incident as unfortunate and appealed to the members of the community to be calm, noting that they should allow police to investigate the cause of the violence.

Aliyu Sa’id said, “It is an unfortunate incident because from the information it has been an existing issue on the ground and I took over precisely three days ago.

“When I tried to find out when I heard the information my lieutenant told me they were not aware of the incident.

“Unfortunately, before we got here because of the distance the hoodlums had gone.”

On some police officers and some powerful individuals who were accused of sponsoring the crisis, Aliyu said he would talk to the authorities since those accused were at the Force Headquarters.

He further stated, “I am going to speak to the higher authority in more detail so that at the end of the day may be more directives will be given.”

He however enjoined communities in the state to always provide useful information to the police and on time too, to prevent situations that would lead to such wanton destruction of lives and property in their communities.