- Attackers came with grenades, lorry load of used tyres – Imo govt
- Security forces kill IPOB commander, six others in joint operation
- Army Lieutenant, three police officers killed in firefight
- Uzodinma has stirred hornet’s nest, says Nnamdi Kanu
In what appeared to be a well-planned assault, about a dozen men armed with AK 47s and grenades killed about eight people, including three security personnel, and set fire to the country home of Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma in Omuma, Oru East Local Government Area.
Several vehicles parked on the premises were also set ablaze in the state’s most recent outbreak of crime.
Several other people were injured and taken to the hospital.
According to the state government, “vigilant security operatives attached to the governor’s house successfully repelled the attack and, as a result, minimised harm.”
However, it argued that the attack was politically motivated.
A special security squad had swooped on the supposed operational headquarters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) in nearby Awoomama, killing a man suspected of being the coordinator of the recent deadly attacks on the State Police Command headquarters and the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) facility, both in Owerri.
Ikonso was his given name.
Six members of his gang were killed along with him during the sting operation.
Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB, vowed Saturday night to avenge the death of his aide.
Residents of Omuma said the assault on Uzodinma’s house began about 9 a.m., shortly after word spread about the overnight attack on Ikonso and his gang.
Some youths reportedly enraged by the security raid on Awoomama marched to Mgidi in Oru West and then to Omuma, the governor’s private residence.
The gunmen who came from the state’s Oguta axis soon joined the youths at the building.
When the gunmen arrived in town, they first killed two unidentified security guards at Oguta Junction.
According to a source, the hooded gunmen forced their way into Uzodinma’s compound after breaking down the iron gates with a grenade and setting fire to it and the vehicles parked there.
The gunmen were said to have killed six security guards on duty at the governor’s residence, but police only confirmed three deaths.
Some people fled for their life as a result of the sound of their gunshots.
Many people fled to neighbouring communities such as Atta in Njaba and Amiri and Akatta in Oru East.
Hundreds of villagers were seen fleeing from Ozuh and Etiti villages, as well as Omuma group in Oru East LGA.
Sebastian Nwaiwu, 55, who moved his three young children to the nearby Umuoke Village in Atta community in Njaba LGA, told one of our correspondents that he had to flee the village with his family for fear of further attacks.
“Our reason for coming here was to be safe. I assume the attack was not directed at us. However, history has shown that when this type of thing occurs, innocent people are still struck. So I decided to remove my children and wife from the village for the time being,” he explained.
Nwaiwu described what happened as follows: “My wife had just returned from church about 9 a.m., and as she entered the kitchen to cook food for us, we heard gunshots and shouts of orders.”
“After about two minutes, we heard a deafening bomb blast. We immediately began to see smoke, and it became clear that Onwa’s (Uzodimma’s) house was under attack.”
Another witness, Chidi Nwaire, said, “We had to flee for the time being.” Already, security personnel, especially soldiers, are not allowing people to cross that area for the time being, and I understand what this means.
“Later today, I’ll return to ensure that all is in order. For the time being, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air.
“I had no choice but to come here because almost everyone in our neighbourhood was running towards Amiri. My elder brother and wife ran towards that end, so I wanted to come here so that if anything happened, we wouldn’t all be affected at the same time.”
Last night, a video allegedly of the attack surfaced, showing hooded men during the raid. Some of the assailants wore all black.
One individual was seen running inside with a used tyre, ostensibly to start the fire.
The video’s authenticity could not be determined right away.
According to the government, it is the work of political enemies.
The state government, through Information and Strategy Commissioner Declan Emelumba, confirmed that valiant security personnel thwarted the assault on the governor’s country home.
He did, however, say that the attack was politically motivated.
“At around 9 a.m. today, Saturday, April 24, a party of about 15 hoodlums driving in a motorcade of three vehicles followed by a tipper loaded with used tyres stormed the governor’s country home in Omuma, Oru East LGA, and attempted to burn down the house.”
“However, vigilant security operatives attached to the governor’s house successfully repelled the attack, thereby limiting the damage they intended to inflict.
“A few injuries were recorded in the ensuing crossfire. According to preliminary findings, the foiled attack may have been politically motivated.
“The government has ordered the relevant security agencies to conduct an expedited investigation into the incident, arrest the sponsors and their agents, and bring them to justice as soon as possible.”
In a tweet, the state police command’s PPRO, Orlando Ikeokwu, said the hoodlums hurled a petrol bomb at the governor’s residence.
“Yes, I can confirm the storey,” he said. The hoodlums struck the governor’s house with a petrol bomb, resulting in the destruction of two vehicles. They were, however, successfully repulsed, and no buildings were set on fire.
“In the operation, one unarmed NSCDC staff was killed. While fleeing, the hoodlums killed a Police Sergeant and another NSCDC employee who were both in their private vehicles at Mgbidi Junction.”
Lt. Babatunde Zubairu, 34 Artillery Brigand Obinze, Imo State, told The Nation that soldiers never fired at any youth.
“I am not aware that soldiers killed youths or shot a woman, but I am aware that the governor’s house was attacked by unknown gunmen. “They were repulsed by the police and our men at the compound,” he said.
Meanwhile, it was learned that the Army Command recruited soldiers from the 34 Artillery Brigade Obinze to take control of the state’s Oru East and West Council Areas in order to protect them against further attacks.
Emma Strong, the IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, declined to comment on the rise.
He simply said, “We are not currently offering interviews, but Uzodimma wants to give us a shot.”
In a statement issued by its President General, Goodluck Ibem, the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) condemned the hoodlum invasion and the untimely death of security operatives guarding the governor’s house in his country home at Omuma.
“The burning of the governor’s house and the murder of security officers on duty is wicked and barbaric,” he said.
“The assault on the governor’s residence is the work of enraged politicians who are upset with the governor’s anti-corruption stance and the transfer of state government assets to personal properties.
“No one is above the law, and we wouldn’t want to jeopardise the investigation of our security officers, whose duty it is to conduct an investigation into the attack. However, we demand that those responsible for this assault be brought to justice.
“We therefore urge all who have threatened to turn the otherwise peaceful South East into a war zone to park their vehicles and leave immediately.”
Owerri’s security has been beefed up.
Soon after the attack on Uzodinma’s country home, security in and around Owerri was beefed up.
Security guards were stationed at the entrances to the Government House and the National Correctional Centre.
One lane of Okigwe Road and Bank Road were also closed, leaving only one lane open for commuters.
The construction created a major traffic jam inside the area.
Patrolling the main streets were several Hilux vans loaded with battle-ready soldiers and police officers.
Detachments of regular and mobile police officers were also seen patrolling the area, with some deployed in strategic locations.
Normal business operations, however, continued.
Soldiers were also stationed in Omuma and Awoomama to maintain peace in the communities.
The attack came 48 hours after Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu said that IPOB had sentenced some Southeast governors to death for unspecified reasons.
Ikpeazu claimed that he was subject to the IPOB fatwa.
Ikpeazu did not explain why IPOB wanted him and other Southeast governors killed during an interactive session with youths and women on Thursday night in Abuja under the auspices of the “TOS Foundation Youth and Women for Good Governance” initiative organised by The Osasu Show (TOS) Television Network.
However, he claimed that he did not agree with the group’s chief, Nnamdi Kanu, in terms of style or strategy.
In a sting operation, police kill a militia leader and six others.
Earlier on Saturday, a special security squad raided the supposed operational headquarters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) in Imo State, killing a man suspected of being the coordinator of the recent deadly attacks on the State Police Command headquarters and the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) facility, both in Owerri.
Ikonso was his given name.
Six members of Ikonso’s gang were killed alongside him during the sting operation at his country home in Awomama village, Oru East Council Area of the state.
Several other people were apprehended.
The security team was made up of troops, police officers, and members of the Department of State Services