Killings: 34 Police, Army, Navy officers slain in Anambra, Abia, Imo, C-River
Charles Nwoke, Southeast, Nigeria
March 28, 2021
Image courtesy of local sources, fair use.
No fewer than seven police stations were razed down, since December 2020, while 34 security officers were reportedly killed by unknown gunmen in the wave of attacks on security men in the South-East geopolitical zones respectively, according to findings.
The ugly trend which spreads across states in the zone including Cross River State in the South-South is gathering momentum and gaining much attention daily.
Currently, security operatives within the axis are dwelling in palpable fear, as they are prone to attack at police stations, divisions, checkpoints, and other police duty posts in the zone.
The incessant attacks on police structures and the killing of security agents remind us of the #EndSARS violence, which witnessed the burning of over 205 police stations and the killing of over 60 police officers in 2020.
There is this general belief that Indigenous People of Biafra, IPoB, and hoodlums are behind the continuous attacks that have left many police, navy, and army personnel dead.
The controversy between the IPoB group and security networks in Anambra State in 2020, which resulted in a great number of victims on both sides, was believed to be the immediate cause of the latest killings of security personnel in the zone.
A police source who pleaded anonymity said, the attack on Eastern Security Network, ESN in Orlu, and a subsequent raid in Ihiala this year could be ascribed to what may have resulted in the onslaughts on police formations in the region.
The source stated, “Recall that there was a clash between IPoB members and the army last year, leading to casualties. That was followed by the raiding of their enclave in Orlu in 2021, which drove them out of the bush in Imo State. A police special team also went to Ihiala to take out some of their henchmen.
“This is why they are after security agents. They have resorted to the model Boko Haram used in its early days. Recall that Boko Haram started with the burning of police stations and the killing of security men. That is what we are beginning to see in the South-East.
“What they do is to kill policemen and other security agents and collect their weapons. Ever since we destroyed their camps in the bushes, they have started guerrilla warfare.”
Among the five South-Eastern states, Imo, Anambra, and Abia have been discovered as the flashpoints of what has become growing calculated attacks on security formations. Research disclosed that none of such attacks has occurred in Enugu within the time under review.
In Abịa State, no fewer than seven police officers have been killed since February 2021.
Besides police personnel, two police stations have been burnt down in four different attacks against police formations in the God’s own state.
Geoffrey Ogbonna, Abia State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, revealed that one policeman was slain when criminals raided a police station at Omoba in Isialangwa South Local Government Area Council in February.
The police station was also set ablaze by the hooligans.
There was equally another attack on a police station at Abayi, Osisioma Ngwa, which resulted in the death of two individuals while the station and some cars at the premises were destroyed.
The PPRO disclosed that a police patrol team was raided by unidentified armed men at Uratta junction Aba, resulting in the death of a cop while the patrol van was burnt down by the hoodlums.
Ogbonna further said that three police officers were attacked and killed at Abriba on March 21 thus bringing the figure of the victims to seven so far since this year.
Reacting on whether the police have affected any arrest in connection with the attacks, or are suspecting any group as perpetrators of attacks, the PPRO said investigations were still ongoing, and until the cop gets to the root of the problem, they won’t accuse any group or persons.
Meanwhile, the PPRO described the situation as very bad and urged members of the public to volunteer any useful information that could assist the police to unmask the perpetrators of such a terrible act.
Talking about the effects of the attacks on their men, the PPRO revealed that despite the emotional effect on their personnel, the police would not abandon their duty post because of the unfortunate incidents.
He said, “Police officers and men are human beings, they could be demoralized at the sight of their colleagues being killed but we can’t give up. It’ is not good to be hunted by the people you are being paid to protect.
“But we keep encouraging our men not to lose morale.”
Three police officers were killed on March 21, 2021, by unidentified gunmen in the Abriba community, Ohafia LGA.
The unknown gunmen carted away two rifles. The officers who were identified as Inspector Austins Ugwu, Inspector Longinus Ugochukwu, and Constable Ema Ifeanyi, were serving at Abriba Police Division. They were attacked at Amaogudu axis of Abribe at about 8.30 am.
Pandemonium and total confusion loom among security agents in Anambra state, following the recent attacks, which led to the killing of 10 persons.
Just immediately after the #EndSARS protests during which five police stations were razed down in parts of the state, normalcy returned and the security operatives commenced work at their duty posts.
But shockingly, unidentified armed men attacked a checkpoint at Nkpologwu in Aguata Local Government Area Council, and Omogho in Orumba North Local Government Area Council, killing four police officers at the spot. They moved away from their rifles and set their patrol van on fire. The hoodlums drove in-salon and black Mercedes Benz 4Matic SUV cars…
The Commissioner of Police Anambra State Command, Monday Kuryas, ordered an investigation into the condition that resulted in the killings and attacks.
A senior police officer in the local government who confirmed the killing said, “Honestly, it was a black Wednesday in Anambra. I don’t know what those boys want to gain from this act
The next place the gunmen attacked was a police checkpoint at Neni in Anaocha local government area where they killed three policemen.
On the same day, the gunmen attacked a naval checkpoint at Awkuzu in Oyi Local Government Area Council, in which three naval personnel lost their lives.
Also, gunmen raided Ekwulobia Police Station in Aguata Local Government Area and murdered another policeman and two officials of Nigeria Correctional Service, NCS.
The criminals also tried to burn down the police but were stopped by police officers at the station.
Later the same day, they attacked a bus conveying prison inmates to the court and had two officials of NCS killed.
Ekwulobia Police station was among those that were completely razed during the #EndSARS protest and was only rebuilt recently.
After the attack on Ekwulobia, unknown gunmen again attempted to set ablaze a police station in Awka North Local Government Area but were repelled by a team of policemen.
The identity of the attackers is still unknown till this moment, but one noticeable thing since the resurgence of the aggression in the state is the disappearance of policemen on the roads, apparently out of fear of further attacks.
These ugly developments forced Governor Willie Obiano to make a statewide broadcast, warning that enough was enough.
“Since these attacks commenced, I have personally coordinated security commanders in the state with a joint effort to halt this mayhem and by God’s, we will surely succeed. The State Security Council has met twice and I have summoned another emergency meeting.
“I have therefore directed all security agencies in the state, the vigilante services, all task forces, and every structure in the state security infrastructure to rise in defense of our dear state,” the Governor said.
Since the adventure of the #EndSaRs protests that witnessed the wanton destruction of many police stations in Imo State, more police stations have been burnt.
Some of the police stations that have been attacked in the state include Aboh Mbaise Divisional Police Station, Umuelemai Divisional Police Station in Isiala Local Government Area, and Divisional Police station in Ishinweke, Ihitte-Uboma Local Government Area Council of Imo State.
According to reports, a female police officer sustained gunshot wounds at Aboh Mbaise. A policeman died in the Isiala Mbano attack while scores of police officers were said to have been injured at the Ihitte/Uboma burnt police station.
Several sources had associated the attacks with criminals and suspected members of ESN, a security network formed by the IPoB.
Reacting to the Aboh Mbaise attack, the Police said, “some yet to be identified hoodlums in four vehicles, attacked the Divisional Police headquarters, Aboh Mbaise, shooting sporadically. The officers on duty engaged them in a gun duel, at the end of the melee, one Policewoman sustained a gunshot injury and was taken to the hospital for treatment.”
Also, on the Isiala Mbano incident, the police said: “On the 20/03/21, at about18:30 pm hoodlums, whose number could not be ascertained, attacked the Divisional Police Hqrs, Isiala Mbano, shooting sporadically. Operatives of the Division successfully repelled them. After the encounter, it was discovered that the hoodlums destroyed some doors and windows.
“No arms were taken away. Regrettably, one Inspector, who was on duty at the time of the attack, gave up the ghost while receiving treatment as a result of injuries sustained during the melee.”
Tension escalated in Umulowo, Imo State, on February 6 after unidentified gunmen attacked a police station in the area, killing some police officers and carting away their arms. No fewer than two police officers were said to have lost their lives in the attack which took place very early in the morning, causing villagers to scamper for safety.
Two policemen were reportedly killed while three others sustained varying degrees of injury as bandits attacked the Divisional Police Headquarters in Oromo Obowu Local Government Area Council of Imo State. It was gathered that the invading bandits on a rampage, lost one of their members in the attack but they ran away with the corpse of the deceased before retreating.
During the #EndSARS pogrom, no fewer than 10 police stations were razed down by hoodlums. However, the state has experienced series of attacks on police stations after the end of the protest.
On February 5, hoodlums attacked the Police Divisional Headquarters in Isu, Onicha Local Government Area Council of Ebonyi State. Apart from the station that was razed, four patrol vehicles were burnt down. Also, one policeman sustained a machete cut wound.
In another development, unidentified gunmen in military uniform on March 1, 2021, attacked the Iboko Police Station in Izzi Local Government Area Council. The attackers were said to have set the station ablaze using grenades and bombs.
Hoodlums killed four police officers and carted away their rifles in Calabar on February 26. The ugly incident occurred along Akai Effa-Idundu Road. The incident was followed by a similar one on March 4 as gunmen killed six police officers and a soldier at a checkpoint in Obubura on the Calabar-Ikom-Highway.
Reacting to the development, a security expert and Founder of Lions Protection and Signals, Callistus Emenike, revealed that government must be cautious in handling the situation to prevent it from degenerating out of control.
He accused the government of what he referred to as nurturing insurgency in the South-East zone.
“Borno will be a child’s play if the government pushes IPoB into resorting to guerilla warfare. The Igbo man is peaceful but the policy of exclusion of this government is what brought this manner of insecurity. I condemn the killings in their entirety and call on those responsible to desist forthwith, but the government must function for all Nigerians. A government that labels IPoB as a terrorist group, but dines with killer herdsmen and bandits, isn’t being sincere.
“We have a police force that hasn’t reclaimed the space it lost to #EndSARS. The same applies to other security agencies. That is in addition to the animosity between them and IPoB. When you combine both, the reason isn’t difficult to know. Government must know that it’s easier and better to nip what is happening in the bud,” he said.