Photos of burnt police vehicles at the Imo police command.…Another police station attacked in Imo, two officers injured…Imo govt fingers former gov for raging attacks…DSS alerted police, Uzodimma before Imo attacks; it’s not true – IMSG…Consult me on how we kept Imo peaceful, Okorocha tells Uzodimma…Imo monarch, chiefs kidnapped after attending traditional wedding…Tension in Aba over shooting around police station…Abia shuts school after discovery of ‘explosive devices’ in classroom…Police barricade roads to correctional centre, Police HQ…Cults clash claims three lives in Rivers; LG chairman kidnappedBy Marie-Therese Nanlong, Chinonso Alozie, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Davies Iheamnachor & Steve Oko
The raging storm of insecurity blowing across the country took a dangerous turn, yesterday, sweeping across Imo, Abia and Rivers states, leaving blood, tears and tension on its trail.
In continuation of their attacks, which started on Monday and Tuesday, hoodlums attacked a police station in Mbieri, Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State.
Two police officers were injured during the attack, three vehicles were damaged, while no fewer than four persons were said to have been abducted by the gunmen
Gunmen also kidnapped the traditional ruler of Umueze Nguru in the Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of the state, Eze Charles Iroegbu, and members of his cabinet who accompanied him to a public function in the state.
There was tension in Aba, the commercial capital of Abia State, following reported sporadic shooting by police personnel around Azikiwe Road and Jubilee Road just as a bag containing suspected explosive devices was discovered in a primary school in Umuahia, the Abia State capital
The Police have barricaded all roads leading to the Correctional Centre and the Police Area Command in Aba.
The flames of insecurity took a bloody turn in Rivers State where a battle for supremacy by cults for the control of an area led to the loss of three lives.
In Imo, suspected hoodlums, Wednesday night, attacked a police station in Mbieri, Mbaitoli Local Government Area and injured two police officers in a gun battle.
Imo State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Orlando Ikeokwo, told newsmen in Owerri that the incident occurred at about 11:30 pm.
He said no officer got missing or kidnapped in the attack, adding that the hoodlums were repelled by the officers on duty.
The PPRO said: “Mbieri Divisional Police headquarters was attacked at about 23:30 pm but successfully repelled. Two officers injured are currently receiving treatment. The police station was not set ablaze. No officer missing or kidnapped.”
However, an eyewitness told Vanguard said that no fewer than four persons were kidnapped.
“The hoodlums arrived in two vehicles and as they tried to enter the station, the policemen on duty started shooting at them. The shooting lasted for more than 40 minutes.
“At the end, as they were about going, we saw three persons they dragged into their vehicles around the police premises, including the ones already in their vehicles shouting for help.”
Asked how many persons he saw, he said: “I saw four persons and I also heard a female voice shouting for help. We don’t know whether they are police officers because they were in mufti. They may be some persons they kidnapped along the road as they were coming to attack the Mbieri police station. “When the gunfire became too much, the hoodlums jumped into their vehicles with those they kidnapped and drove away,” he said.
Fish out perpetrators, Imo govt urges security agencies, fingers ex-governor
Reacting, Imo State government, through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, said: “We have urged security operatives in the state to expedite their investigations into the recent attack on Police and Nigerian Correctional Services facilities by hoodlums to ensure the perpetrators are fished out and made to face justice.
“The government also called on the security agencies to beam their searchlight on all possible suspects and avoid the temptation of focusing in only one direction to ensure that the brains behind the mayhem are fished out and prosecuted accordingly.
“The government directed the security agents to expedite their investigation and make sure that no stone is left unturned and to beam their searchlight in all possible suspected areas and ensure that those who perpetrated this dastardly act are fished out and brought to book as quickly as possible.”
In the last 72 hours, many police stations had been attacked in Imo State. They include Imo State Police headquarters, Ehime Mbano Police station and Mbieri Police station. Also attacked was the Owerri Correctional Centre.
Emelumba, yesterday, blamed a former governor of the state for Monday’s attacks on some federal facilities in Owerri.
He alleged that the former governor engaged thugs whom he had earlier granted amnesty to unleash violence in the state to prod the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Imo.
Addressing a press conference in Owerri, Emelumba averred that all that took place in the state on Monday had the imprimatur of the former governor.
According to him, the fact that the former governor sponsored some northern youths who called for the declaration of a state of emergency in Imo barely hours after the attacks made him a culprit.
Chief Emelumba alleged that the former governor wants to get back at Governor Hope Uzodinma for insisting on the implementation of the white paper that indicted him.
The commissioner said all that happened on Monday were orchestrated to portray Uzodinma as an incompetent governor as a prelude to the declaration of a state of emergency in Imo by the Federal Government.
Consult me on how we kept Imo peaceful, Okorocha tells Uzodimma
However, immediate past governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, has advised Governor Uzodinma to tow the path of consultation rather than confrontation in solving the security challenges in the state.
Okorocha, now a serving senator, said despite the challenges of IPOB and other agitators during his tenure, he was able to keep the state peaceful because he consulted widely with relevant stakeholders.
Speaking at Kuru, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State during a condolence visit to the family of late Mrs. Felicia Biskanga, Okorocha said except justice was allowed to reign and poverty stamped out, the workload on the military and the Police would yield little or no results.
His words: “The security situation in Imo State, the security situation in Nigeria as a whole, the security situation in all nooks and crannies of our society is not palatable. We are passing through a very difficult moment in the history of our nation.
“The recent attack on the Police headquarters and the Correctional Centre in Imo State, the unending herdsmen crises, the banditry, the unending Boko Haram, and kidnapping are all products of poverty and injustice and I think time has come for us, political leaders, to tell ourselves the truth and address this ugly situation and help our men and women of the armed forces and the police who are currently fighting the symptoms and not the disease of poverty and injustice.
“What I will ask Imo State government to do is: the location of the prison and the Police headquarters is wrong. I had built the best prison or Correctional centre command, I built the best police command in the Federal Republic of Nigeria but they left them to waste; they are not being used.
“If people were there, these people wouldn’t have had that kind of access. It has a large expanse of land, staff quarters, the capacity for inmates there is 3,200 as against where they are now, which has about 1,200 and they squeeze 10 inmates in a place.
“My message to him is that he should face the challenge of leadership and consultation at this time. It is very important because if the governor consulted me and said how did you handle IPOB during your time that there was peace in Imo State, how did you handle the issue of kidnapping, how did you handle the issue of agitators? I would have told him.
“During my time, we collected more than 100 AK-47 rifles from the youths who came for exchange willingly, just by talking to them. We must always understand that these children are our children.
“We are overloading the military and the police in trying to help the situation when we have not tackled the issues of injustices in this country and the issues of poverty.
“As long as these continue in the form and shape it is going on, and as long as young men wake up in the morning and there is no job and poverty is ravaging the system, there is little or nothing the armed forces can do because it is a growing thing. The young men are coming out of schools, they are not getting jobs, we must address that.”
‘DSS alerted Police, Uzodimma, one week before Imo attacks’
Meantime, Dennis Amachree, former assistant director of the Department of State Services, DSS, said yesterday that the agency informed the police and Governor Uzodinma of an impending attack on the police command and prison facility a week before the incident.
On Monday, gunmen attacked the federal prison and police command headquarters in Owerri and freed 1,844 inmates.
Again on Tuesday, gunmen attacked another police station located in Ehime Mbano LGA in the state.
Speaking when he featured on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, Amachree said there was “enough actionable intelligence” gathered by the DSS before Monday’s attacks but the police and the governor did not execute it.
“You know in our lackadaisical way, when intelligence come they throw it by the side and then when something happens, everybody runs around.”
Amachree said the police are the “actioning party” that should have taken steps on the security intelligence, adding that Mohammed Adamu, former Inspector-General of Police, did not get his facts right before alleging that the masterminds of the attacks were members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Amachree not speaking for DSS – Imo govt
Countering the former DSS chief, Imo State Government said Amacheree was not speaking for the DSS.
In a statement, the Information Commissioner, Declan Emelumba, said any official statement from DSS, should come from the current director of DSS and not from an individual speaking for himself.
“The ex-director of DSS is certainly not in position to speak for DSS, he is not in service. If there is anybody who can make that statement it is the current director of DSS. We have not heard from DSS.”
Asked if there was any such alert, he said: “As far as we are concerned, there is no such letter or alert. The man is speaking for himself and not DSS.”
Imo monarch, chiefs kidnapped after attending traditional wedding
There was palpable fear in Imo State on Wednesday night after gunmen kidnapped the traditional ruler of Umueze Nguru in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of the state, Eze Charles Iroegbu.
Photos of burnt police vehicles at the Imo police command.
The gunmen also kidnapped the cabinet chiefs of the kingdom who accompanied the monarch to a public function in the state.
The respected monarch, who is owner and chief executive officer of All States Mass Transit, and his cabinet chiefs were kidnapped after attending a traditional wedding in Mbano.
They were in three vehicles and were heading back to the kingdom when the gun-wielding men waylaid them and diverted their movement, Vanguard learned, yesterday.
The development has caused panic in the community.
“His Highness and his cabinet chiefs were on their way back from a traditional wedding ceremony in Mbano when they were kidnapped. This is unbelievable and there is fear and panic everywhere,” a community source said and expressed worry that the kidnappers had not established communication since they struck.
Contacted, the police spokesperson in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, said he could not confirm the abduction.
Tension in Aba over shooting around police station
As the waves of insecurity spread, there was tension in Aba, the commercial capital of Abia State, following reported sporadic shooting by police personnel around Azikiwe Road and Jubilee Road.
Policemen barricaded all roads leading to the Correctional Centre and the Police Area Command in the city.
Vanguard gathered that there was heavy shooting at the Aba Area Command and another at Bata junction.
Residents of the adjoining roads to the two facilities have been barred from leaving their houses, while shop owners were forced to leave the area.
Barricades guarded by the Police were observed at Okwu na Uka street, Pound and Hospital roads as well as the area near the Aba General Hospital.
A police source told Vanguard that the barricades were not unusual, considering the recent attacks on police formations in the South-East zone.
According to eyewitness account, trouble started around 8:am when a team of armed police men stormed the vicinity and started shooting into the air.
It was not yet clear if there were any human casualties.
An eyewitness, simply identified as Longinus, a tricycle operator, said he parked his keke ( tricycle) and was eating in a restaurant when a team of policemen stormed the area and started shooting.
According to him, people scampered for safety amid the raging gunfire.
He said that on his return to the scene after the shooting, he discovered that people’s vehicles, including his keke, had been destroyed by the police for yet to be explained reasons.
The tricycle operator claimed that the invading police team also took away his keke to an unknown destination.
His words: “We were here and suddenly a team of policemen came to this place and started shooting. People ran away for safety. I was eating at a nearby restaurant.
“Everybody ran for safety as they threw teargas. We thought it was over, until they went and reinforced, came back and started destroying peoples vehicles. My keke was destroyed and they took it to their station.”
He said the action of the police was unprovoked as residents around the area had no knowledge of what might have led to the act.
Another version had it that police personnel went on rampage, smashing windscreens of vehicles and destroying people’s property claiming to be searching for members of the IPOB; and the personnel of Eastern Security Network, ESN.
The incident happened shortly after a reported sporadic shooting around Aba Area Command.
Police were said to have cordoned off all roads leading to the scene and subjected passersby to thorough security checks.
Following the gunshots, traders and people around the vicinity scampered for safety, while shops around Hospital Road by CPS, and Jubilee Road were shut down in the ensuing confusion.
Contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Geoffrey Ogbonna, said a team of policemen went for arrest at Ama Ogbonna, Aba when the operatives came under attack. He said they later called for reinforcement before the situation was brought under control.
“Meanwhile, necessary measures have been taken to protect the pupils and staff of the school with security sweeps ongoing, while the school is temporarily closed.
“Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has directed security agencies to embark on proactive checks in other vulnerable locations out of abundance of caution.
“While we are grateful to God that there is no harm to life or property, we urge citizens and residents to continue to maintain vigilance and report suspicious situations to security agents.”
Three feared killed as cultists clash in Port Harcourt
In Rivers, three people were feared dead at old Port Harcourt township area of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area of Rivers State as cultists clashed in in a supremacy battle over who controls the area.
The development has thrown residents of Bende, Victoria and Bagham streets into palpable fear.
A source, who witnessed the deadly clash, said it started around 8:00pm, adding that one Dike, and Biggy were among the people feared killed.
The source said: “Yesterday, around 8:00pm, we heard gunshots. When we came out later at Bagham Junction, we saw one person that was shot in the chest, dead.
“I couldn’t identify him because it was dark. I also heard that one person called Biggy, was shot at Victoria Street and a business man called Dike was also shot. I don’t know if the business man died.”
He lamented that cultists terrorising the area move uninterrupted with guns in search of their targets, and urged the security operatives to be proactive in their duties.
The source said: “The truth is that these cultists come for their target. Some times, we see them pass with guns. Some time it’s stray bullet that pick some persons. Our concern is that security should be proactive. They pay attention more to other issues than human lives.”
Confirming the development, the Public Relations Officer of the State Police Command, SP. Nnamdi Omoni, said the number of casualties could not be ascertained at press time.
Omoni disclosed that shooting was following a cult war, adding that police had restored calm in the area.
“I can confirm that there was cult clash yesterday at the town axis of Port Harcourt. Two rival cult groups engaged themselves in a senseless war of supremacy.
“On getting the distress call, we mobilised and we chased them and we were able to recover one of their pistols. The manhunt for the cultists continues.
“So far we have no case of reported casualty. The Commissioner of Police has declared war against the criminals.”
Gunmen kidnap LG boss in Rivers
In a related development, unidentified gunmen abducted the chairman of Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mr. Philemon Kingoli in the early hours of Wednesday along the Peter Odili Road in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area of the state.
This came a few weeks after gunmen abducted the traditional ruler of Ikuru town, HRM King Aaron Miller, in Andoni Local Government Area of the State as well as a senior lecturer at the Department of Linguistics and Communications Studies, Dr. Jones Ayouwo.
However, the duo have regained freedom, with a trending video from the monarch’s kidnappers calling on politicians and royal fathers to enthrone peace in Andoni.
At press time, reason for abduction of the LG council chairman is yet to be known as the gunmen have not established contact with relatives of victim.
Meanwhile, the State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Nnamdi Omoni, who confirmed the kidnap of Kingoli, said the command is making efforts to secure unconditional release of the LG boss.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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