Attacks on police facilities have continued across Nigeria with at least 12 officers killed in the past two weeks.
Over three dozen police officers have been killed in the past two months in targeted attacks on police officers and facilities. The attacks have occurred mainly in the South-east and South-south regions of Nigeria.
The police and other security agencies have blamed the attacks on IPOB, an outlawed secessionist group, and its security network, ESN. The group has, however, denied any involvement.
Dozens of suspected members of the ESN have been killed or arrested as security agencies move to quell the attacks. The Nigerian Army last week announced that its officials had arrested another top ESN official.
To prevent further attacks and restore peace in the South-east and South-south regions, the acting inspector general of police, Usman Alkali, last week launched a new outfit ‘Operation Restore Peace’ in the two regions.
According to the police, the special operation is to counter the IPOB threat and ensure the security of lives and property in the two regions.
PREMIUM TIMES highlights the reported cases of attacks on police facilities in the past two weeks (between May 16 and 29).
Three officers killed in Delta
The Nsukwa Divisional Police Station in the Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta state came under attack by suspected members of the ESN.
The attack which occurred around 2 a.m. on May 16 sent the people of the area into panic as gunshots rented the air for hours, forcing the residents to stay awake throughout the night.
At least three officers and a suspect were killed during the attack.
The building and vehicles parked in the station were razed while the gunmen carted away ammunition.
Some of the suspects detained at the station were also said to have been freed by the hoodlums.
One officer killed in Imo
Gunmen shot and killed a police sergeant whose name was given as Loveday Obilonu, on May 19 in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
The sergeant who was shot and killed in his village, Okwu-Uratta in Owerri North Local Government Area of the state, was attached to the operations department of the state police command.
Gunmen on May 23 attacked the B Division of the Nigeria Police Force in Awka, Anambra State, and the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Awka.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that the fully armed attackers came in three Hilux trucks at about 8 p.m.
A witness who almost ran into the troubled area located between the popular Ekwueme Square, Awka, said the bandits shot into the air for close to one hour at B Police Division before proceeding to the INEC office.
The source, who asked not to be named, said before proceeding to INEC, the gunmen drove to Aroma junction and shot in the air for about 10 minutes which made residents scamper for safety.
Five killed in Enugu
Gunmen in the early hours of May 25 attacked Iwollo Police Division in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The police station was set ablaze during the attack, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), with five officers feared killed.
The Commissioner of Police in Enugu State, Mohammed Aliyu, confirmed the attack in a telephone interview with NAN.
Mr Aliyu, who could not give details of the incident, said he was already on the ground to ascertain the level of destruction and casualties.
“More information will be pushed out to the public as soon as we conclude our preliminary investigation,’’ he said.
A witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told NAN that the hoodlums attacked the division in their large numbers in the wee hours of the day.
The witness said the attack caused panic in the Iwollo community throughout the night.
“They succeeded in completely razing down the buildings in the divisional station.
“The hoodlums might have also killed probably five gallant police personnel that confronted them when they attacked.’’
Another attack in Imo
There was panic in Imo State on May 25 as gunmen burnt the Orji Divisional Police Headquarters situated on Owerri- Okigwe Road in Owerri.
The situation caused panic in the area as two banks situated close to the scene hurriedly shut down.
Businesses were shut and vehicles diverted while motorists scampered for safety after running out of their vehicles.
Eyewitnesses told The Punch newspaper that the gunmen attacked the police station after blocking the expressway with their vehicles.
There were said to have told nearby traders not to panic.
Three killed in Delta
Gunmen on May 28 killed three police officers during an attack on a police station in Delta State, Nigeria’s South-south.
The attack occurred in Umutu police station in Ukwuani LGA in the early hours of Friday.
A police statement, which confirmed the incident, said two of the gunmen were shot dead by the police during the attack.
“In the early hours of today 28th may 2021 at about 0130 hours, armed men in their numbers stormed Umutu police station, they shot sporadically at the station, but due to proactive measure already put in place by the Delta State commissioner of police, they were faced with stiff resistance by the men on duty, as the policemen on duty gave them a tough fight,” the police spokesperson, Edafe Bright, said in the statement.
“The armed men had to retreat when they saw that the policemen on duty were not relenting, two of the armed bandits were gunned down while others injured.
“They had to take a retreat, they quickly carried their dead and ran away. The Command lost two policemen, while one ASP died of High Blood pressure in the hospital,” said Mr Bright, a deputy superintendent of police.
Although at least 12 police officers were killed in the past two weeks, the number of attacks and the weekly casualty figure reduced compared to the previous weeks. The weekly deaths in each of the previous two weeks were not less than 12.
In reaction to the decline in attacks, the police spokesperson, Frank Mba, in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, attributed it to three major factors.
He said the first factor is that the police are more proactive which makes them to be more on the offensive rather than being defensive.
He said the other factors are improved intelligence gathering and the launch of the new operation in the two zones.
“We now engage the critical stakeholders in these communities to deal with some of these challenges.
“The launch of the special operation which is the very elaborate operation targeted at restoring peace within the two zones (has also helped).
“I believe it is the combination of these three factors,” he said.