Troops of the Nigerian Army attached to the 82 Division have killed scores of members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) when they raided their camps at Amagu village, Nkalaha community in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
The operation was carried out in collaboration with the operatives of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), police and the Department of State Services (DSS) under Exercise GOLDEN DAWN II, on Monday.
Army spokesman, Brig-Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, who disclosed this to newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday, explained that some members of the group that have been terrorising the South East escaped with bullet wounds.
He said, ‘’During the raid operations, the troops came in contact with members of the dissident group, resulting in an exchange of fire. In the encounter, the gallant troops neutralised some of the irredentists, while others took to their heels abandoning the camp.’’
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‘’The Nigerian Army also encourages members of the public to work harmoniously with the security agencies to collectively make the South East and the entire nation secured and peaceful,’’ he added.
The Nigerian military in recent times has launched offensives against terrorists in different parts of the country with the outlawed groups recording heavy casualties.
A few days ago in Zamfara, not fewer than 180 bandits were killed in airstrikes by the NAF. Over 60 civilians used as shields by the dissidents were also killed in the crossfire.
Discoveries in South East
Nwachukwu stated that the troops recovered 102 rounds of 7.62mm special, 2 pump action guns, 5 locally made rifles, 1 roll of detonator 27, quantity 24 detonators, 33 electrical cables, quantity 12 of type 36 hand grenades and 12 bags of substances suspected to be marijuana.
He said the troops also recovered three motorcycles, 2 generators, 1 water pumping machine, military woodland camouflage and police uniforms.
The army spokesman said the troops in another operation on the same date, while on routine patrol in Agubeji community in Enugu State arrested a suspect, one Mr Martins Abogwu, for conniving with IPOB/Eastern Security Network (ESN) elements to unleash attacks on innocent citizens.
He said the suspect, who claimed he was the chief security officer of the community, was assisting in the preliminary investigations that followed and had led troops to their camp where a shallow grave containing two decomposing bodies were uncovered.
‘’One of the corpses has been identified as a member of the local vigilante, who was kidnapped about a month ago.
‘’The Nigerian Army reassures law abiding citizens of its unwavering resolve, in synergy with other services and security agencies to deny criminal elements the freedom of action and progressively rid the nation of identified threats to national security by executing its constitutional responsibilities in conformity with extant rules of engagement.
In a related development, the Director of DSS in Imo State, Wilcox Idaminabo, has announced the arrest of kingpins behind the frequent attacks, especially the burning of offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state.
He, however, did not specify the identity of the group.
The police in Imo and Ebonyi recently identified IPOB as the masterminds of the burning of the INEC offices and the killing of residents for defying the sit-at-home order declared by the outlawed group.
A few days ago, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, also raised the alarm that separatist groups in the country were working to disrupt the 2023 general elections.
Baba, who was represented by the Deputy Inspector General in charge of operations, Dandaura Mustapha, spoke on Friday when he appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating attacks on the facilities of the INEC.
The police chief said the attacks on the offices of the electoral body increased after the ban on political campaigns was lifted.
Idaminabo, who spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof Sylvia Uchenna Agu, in Owerri, the state capital, said that the department would continue to work to ensure that peace was restored in the state.
He said the department had also dislodged the camp at Orsu where the hoodlums had made their headquarters.
He said the constant raid by operatives of DSS led to the arrest of one Mike Ahize, who is the leader of the hoodlums in Orsu.
He said that the pounding of the hoodlums’ camp in Orsu had made them relocate to the Aku/Ihube axis along the Okigwe Expressway where they continued with their attacks.
Ibidaminabo however expressed delight that another leader named Ejima was arrested Tuesday night.
The DSS said, “We have continued to comb their camps and cells in Orsu, Njaba, Orlu and Okigwe and our onslaughts, especially at Njaba led to the arrest of one Ejima who has been threatening to burn down the state. I am happy to announce that just last night (Tuesday) we apprehended him and he’s now in our custody.
“We also recovered a lot of arms, ammunition and charms from him.”
Idaminabo appealed to residents to cooperate with security agencies to ensure that these hoodlums were arrested and made to face the law.
‘There’s a dangerous group in town’, NSCDC boss raises alarm
The Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Ahmed Abubakar Audi, has disclosed the presence of a ‘dangerous group’ in Nigeria causing mayhem.
Audi disclosed this during the opening ceremony of the last Commandant General Conference for 2022 with zonal commanders and state commandants of the corps at the NSCDC headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday.
The CG said the group was identified through an intelligence report at the disposal of the corps.
“There is a dangerous group in town. The members dress in security uniforms and they have started unleashing mayhem on the citizens. So, we have to buckle up and fish these people out,” Audi called on the top officers to live up to the expectations of the government by doing their job well.
The CG, while noting that the nation would be heading into the general elections in a few weeks, said the conference would devise a strategy to end the destruction of the INEC’s facilities.
He charged the zonal commanders and state commandants to work with sister agencies in ensuring the protection of government property and public infrastructures in their respective states.
“We are going to hold commandants accountable if there is any attack on any INEC facility in their states,” Audi said. He charged them to concentrate more on intelligence gathering, stressing that preventing a crime was cheaper than solving it.
By Joshua Odeyemi, Ìdòwú Isamotu (Abuja) & Jude A. Owuamanam (Owerri)