There was tension around the palace of Eze Aro in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, on Wednesday, as soldiers and militants of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) exchanged gunfire.
Security sources confirmed to our correspondent that five members of the outlawed group fell to the superior firepower of the soldiers.
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The IPOB militants were said to have stormed the community to enforce the “sit-at-home” order declared by the outlawed group.
IPOB had asked residents to remain indoors on days that Nnamdi Kanu, its leader, is arraigned in court.
Kanu was arraigned on a 7-count charge at an Abuja court on Thursday and he pleaded not guilty.
A source said immediately residents of the area got the news that the IPOB leader had been brought to court, they took to the streets in celebration.
The source said the IPOB members, who were also in a jubilant mood that Kanu is alive, contrary to reports they had been getting about the safety of the separatist leader, marched on the streets.
On arriving at the First Bank axis of the town, the IPOB members exchanged gunfire with soldiers.
The security source said five members of the pro-Biafra group bowed to the superior firepower of the troops.
He said the gunshots caused pandemonium in Arochukwu, as residents scuttled into nearby bushes.
In a related development, a soldier has been murdered in Etekuru, Ohaji Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State.
Our correspondent gathered that the soldier was ambushed and killed, while his rifle was stolen.
In a reprisal, soldiers invaded the community and burnt houses.
The incident came two weeks after soldiers razed down houses in Izombe in the Oguta Local Government Area of the state following the killing of two soldiers.
The chaos in Orsu Ihitte Ukwa started after Tuesday’s killing of two traditional rulers in neighbouring Okwudor.
The tension snowballed into clashes between some youths and security operatives as the community observed the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) following Thursday’s arraignment of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
Soldiers were alleged to have gone round the town burning shops, houses and property of the villagers.
The casualty figures could not be ascertained but the town has been deserted as many have fled their homes.
Efforts to get the reaction of Army Public Relations Officer, Capt. Joseph Akubo, were in vain as his line was out of reach when our correspondent tried to reach him.
Meanwhile, roads and streets in Owerri, the state capital, were virtually empty as residents observed what has been described as the “mother of all sit-at-home”, on Thursday.
Apart from the weekly Monday order, which has grounded all social and economic activities in the South East region, Thursday’s action was ordered by the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in solidarity with Nnamdi Kanu, their leader, who was arraigned in court in continuation of his treason trial.
Our correspondent, who drove round the city, observed that not even a single shop was opened while few commercial vehicles that dared operate on other sit-at-home days, stayed away completely.
There were some Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) patrolling the streets.
Miscreants set truck ablaze in Enugu
In Enugu State, a shop and a trailer bearing a container were set ablaze by miscreants suspected to be enforcing the sit-at-home order at Eke-Obinagu suburb along Enugu – Abakaliki Expressway in Enugu East Council Area of the state.
Daily Trust learnt that the truck, said to be heading to Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, was attacked and set ablaze around 3:30am on Thursday. However, the drive was said to have also escaped unhurt.
Our correspondent, who visited the scene of the incident, reports that the shop said to be stocked with provisions was totally razed down.
It was observed that over 10 security operatives led by the police had been stationed at the scene to ensure that the goods in the container weren’t looted.
Meanwhile, roads and streets in the state were deserted as residents observed the sit-at-home order.
Efforts to get the police reaction were unsuccessful as the State Police Public Relations Officer, Daniel Ndukwe, could not be reached on the telephone.
From Linus Effiong, Umuahia, Jude A. Owuamanam, Owerri & Tony Adibe, Enugu