The Rage Of South East’s Unknown Gunmen

It was moments before 2am on a Saturday morning. Like everyone else on normal work routine, residents around the Atta divisional police headquarters in Njaba local government area of Imo state, were fast asleep. Suddenly however, they were rudely roused from their slumber by staccato of automatic gun fire. Not unexpectedly, they were not entirely surprising hearing the sound of gun fire given growing preponderance of unexplained shooting and killing in particularly the south east in recent time.
When the outrage quitened at the break of dawn, the residents had to face the stack reality of a razed police headquarters. As if that was not enough, the attackers also left other tales of destruction-they also left nearby health centre, magistrate and high courts in ruins. The attack on Njaba came barely one week after the home of the community’s president-general, Chijioke Duruonyeokwu, was razed, his wife murdered in cold blood.
A few hours later, the Abia State police criminal investigation department, Ubakala, came under attack. By the time the staccato sound of automatic guns died down, the facility and the state headquarters of the Nigerian immigration services were in raging inferno.
The above incidents is typical of what the south east in particular has become in the last few weeks during which men, officers and facilities belonging to security agencies have been wasted. At the last count, the lives about 150 on and off duty members of the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian police force and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, have been cut down.
The orgy of violence in the south east teed off after the end of last year’s #ENDSARS protests. Since then however, close to 30 police stations, prison facities and road blocks have been attacked. The attackers not only left securities vandalized and torched, they also carted away every available arm and ammunition. At the moment, there is no assurance that the trend is about to subside or even end leaving the people in general and security agencies in distress. Sadly however, the response of security agents is either too little or too late even as the frequency calls for concern.
On Monday, 5 April, 2021, the Owerri headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force came under the unknown gunmen’s radar. The heavily armed men who conducted the attack reduced major parts of the facility to rubbles in addition to blasting their way into the correctional centre where they released about 1,800 inmates, most of them condemned hardened crooks.
Barely three weeks later, precisely on Monday 19th, it was the turn of the Ukpor headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force. By the time the attackers decided they’d had enough fun for the day, two policemen lay dead.
Three three days later, another two on-duty police men bit the dust following a daring raid on the Adani divisional police headquarters in Usolo-Uwani LGA of Enugu state. They also left several others with various degrees of severe gun shot wounds.
On May 5th, the attack train rolled over to Anambra state where a large number of rampaging gunmen paid a daring visit to the Obosi police station in Idemili local government area. By the time they were done, the facility was not only razed, the attackers also added the lives of two police inspectors to their Morbid collections. They couldn’t resist the lure of releasing all the criminal in the custody of the police custody.
The Nsukwa Divisional Police Station in Aniocha South local government area of Delta state became the next target of the so-called UGM. Five police officers lost their lives just as five more got killed in Ebonyi after the attackers’ visit to 10 separate police stations, all of which wee razed,arms and ammunitions looted.
The attack train has since visited a number of other south south states including Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Edo. Thus far, whereas 12 policemen have reported lost their lives in Delta, 7 policemen went to the great beyond in Edo just as Akwa Ibom, Cross River added 9 and 11 to the growing mortal numbers.
But the case in both Anambra and Imo states appears to be more worrisome. The killing of security agents, particular policemen, in the two states is taking such a disturbing turn that policemen have abandoned their traditional checkpoints for fear of the known. That is, after they lost four men during the Nkpologwu attack in Aguata Local Government Area and another four in Omogho, Orumba North Local Government Area. After the latter attack, the rampaging UGM allegedly set their patrol van on fire before zooming off with their rifles in a black Mercedes Benz 4Matic SUV.
Soon after the Nkpologwu attack, the UGM swooped on another police checkpoint in Neni, Anaocha local government area where they wasted the lives of three policemen. Thereafter, they hit a naval checkpoint at Awkuzu in Oyi local government area, killed all three naval ratings at the check before zooming into thin air. Yet, on the same day, Ekwulobia police station in Aguata local government area, played unwilling host to the marauders with the life of one policeman as morbid kolanut. In addition, they were also reported to have attacked a bus conveying prison inmates to the court, killing two NCS officials in the process. They also took away the guns of the slain NCS officers.
The development has left real fear and palpable tension in the heart of not just security agents but also the people in general. While the former no longer feel safe inside or outside their stations, the latter are worrying sick over the possibility of being caught in the cross fire as was the recent case in Owerri, the Imo state capital, where two women traders were killed following fatal contact with stray bullets. As one resident puts it, “We are not stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
Relaible sources disclosed to 2n-network that the so-called Unknown Gunmen, aka, UGM, is not altogether an unknown group after all. Indeed, while the UGM attackers objectives remain largely hazy, opinion seems to suggest that the identity of the UGM, as a group, is not entirely unknown as all accusing fingers point in the direction of the Eastern Security Network, the Armed wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra, better known as IPOB. Yet, the money worrisome fact is that the people themselves seem to know that the attacks may be a prelude to an ominous all-out armed confrontation between the military and whoever is engineering the attacks. That is, given the fact that the attackers seem to focus their attention on eliminating security personnel, more or less to impose fear on the people. There also seems to be an understanding among those who spoke with 2n-network that destroying their facilities is meant to dampen the morale of security agencies just as they believe that carting away arms, ammunition and freeing inmates from both police and correctional centres’ custodies is a tactical move to boost the attackers’ forces in the event of an all-war.
“They know what they are doing. The security agencies cannot pretend not to know it either. They are preparing for an all out war. That is why the government must step in to stem the ugly tide immediately,” a source who prefers anonymity told 2n-network.
But neither IPOB nor ESN, a lot of whose members have equally been killed, claimed responsibility. In a release made public by IPOB spokesperson, Emma Powerful, the group says neither the parent body, IPOB, nor its affiate, the ESN, has anything to do with the attacks and or killing of policemen and or any other member of the Nigerian security agencies. According to him, those pointing accusing fingers at either IPOB or ESN are doing so in order to justify a proposed crack down.
“ESN is not unknown gunmen reported to be responsible for the said attacks. ESN is identifiable and has a mandate. Its mandate is to protect the Eastern region against terrorists and the killer herdsmen.We have severally stated that ESN is not after security agents, but terrorists rampaging our communities. ESN operates in the bushes and not in the cities. Anyone looking for them should go to the forests.”
“Neither ESN nor IPOB is involved in the purported attacks against security agents. This is another fabricated lie by the Nigeria military to blackmail the security outfit and have another excuse to attack innocent people. We are however not surprised that the Nigerian Government will easily point accusing fingers at us. We know their antics. They are only looking for another justification to launch fresh military operation in the South East and South South to kill more innocent and unarmed Biafrans…”
Arising from a zonal meeting in Owerri, the Imo state capital, South East governors agreed on the need to restructure the operational modalities of the zone’s security outfit, Ebubeagwu. To that extent, they want Attorney-Generals of the give South East States to come with ways to tinker existing laws in their respective states to give legal backing to the outfit. They also agreed to set up an advisory board for the security outfit which they believe would work with the police and other security agencies to maintain security and stability in the region. Above all, they are of the opinion that the region needs to throw its weight behind the agitation for the restructuring of the country. That is, in addition to the establishment of state police.
Ebonyi stay governor, Dave Umahi, who chaired the event noted;
“The meeting is in support of restructuring, the setting up of state police and other national issues as discussed in the last NEC meeting. South-east governors agreed on the implementation of various #EndSARS youth empowerment programmes in the South-east states as soon as possible,” Gov Umahi said.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed security agencies to quell the uprising in the region. The order is contained in his directive to the police Inspector–General, Usman Alkali Baba, in which he ordered the IG to immediately bring to an end the current wanton burning of police facilities and killing police officers by unknown gunmen in the South South and southeastern zones of the country. The order has since been related to all security formations across the region. However, it is uncertain how well it will help quell the spate of killing and wanton destruction, as the president puts. Neither is anyone sure that it will address the reasons for the attacks in the first instance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.