Suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have killed 13 Hausa traders within one week in Enugu and Imo States, in what community leaders and security sources described as targeted killings by members of the outlawed group.
Many police personnel have been killed and facilities torched in escalating attacks on security agents in the south-eastern and south-south regions.
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Sunday, preached peace on a visit to Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital where he condoled the people and government of the state over last Monday’s killings in Egedegede, Ishielu Local Government Area.
In the latest attack on civilians of northern extraction, four butchers were gunned down by assailants in military camouflage who stormed the Afor Umuaka market around 8:30 pm on Saturday.
In Enugu, last Monday, at least six persons were killed during a targeted attack at Adani Community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State.
One of the victims was a prominent Hausa trader, said to have resided in the area for over 30 years.
“Unknown dozens of gunmen invaded Adani, a major town in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area, Enugu State, opened fire on citizens, specifically targeting the Hausa community, six people were killed and several others unaccounted for as they were allegedly kidnapped by the assailants.
“Muhammed Danyunku, a prominent leader, who lived there for more than 30 years was among those killed,” a source told Daily Trust.
The state’s police command confirmed the attack but did not comment on the casualty figures.
Daily Trust was informed that trouble began at a place popularly called Presco Junction as some herdsmen reportedly shot a young farmer from Igga Community, who also was working at Adarice Factory in Adani, on matters of misunderstanding between the two parties.
The alleged attackers (shooting-herdsmen) were said to have blocked the way of sympathisers who attempted to rush the victim to the hospital, thereby attracting the members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) to the scene. The ESN men then reportedly embarked on sporadic shootings and razing of houses alongside other valuables worth millions of naira.
But another version of the incident claimed that it was in the attempt to revive the wounded farmer-factory worker that a group of unidentified angry young men riding on motor-bikes arrived at the scene and shot sporadically at those causing the blockade and preventing the victim from being taken to hospital.
Natives, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that hunters and local vigilantes had encountered some strange faces suspected to be operatives of ESN, in the forest around the area, who informed them that they were not searching for any law-abiding residents.
It was gathered that many residents of the area have reportedly taken a quick flight to neighbouring communities in Nsukka and Igboetiti Local Council Areas, in the aftermath of the attack.
In Imo, seven persons were killed in three separate shooting incidents in Orlu town and Umuaka in Njaba Local Government Area. The attacks occurred on Wednesday and Thursday in Orlu and on Saturday in Umuaka.
The recent killings, according to leaders of Hausa communities in the area, upped death tolls in similar circumstances to 12, since the violence that trailed the EndSARS protests in the area, in August 2020.
Narrating the incident to newsmen, an eyewitness, Harisu Umaru Ishiaku, said that the killers, dressed in military uniform, stormed the Afor Umuaka market around 8:30 pm and attacked the victims.
He said four of the victims who were within the age bracket of 30 t0 45 years had lived in the area for many years.
While suspecting that the people who carried out the attack are strangers, he said there has never been an issue between the deceased and the people of Umuaka Community.
According to the Imo State Coordinator of Hausa traders, Mallam Ibrahim Abdulkadir, the first incident happened on Friday when three Suya sellers were about to close for the day.
He said some gunmen in a Sienna car emerged suddenly and sprayed them with bullets.
He said in a similar style, the same set of gunmen attacked four Hausa traders at Umuaka in Njaba. Abdulkadir said Hausa traders in Orlu now live in fear, adding that some of them have relocated to Owerri, the state capital.
“Actually this thing started on the second of this month. I was called that three people had been killed by some men operating in a Siena car. They were Suya sellers.
“Just as we were about to handle the situation, I was called again that four people were killed by the same people,” he said.
Our correspondent learnt that the corpses of the victims have been taken to Owerri in preparation for burial.
Speaking to BBC Hausa Service on Sunday, a businessman living in Orlu, Alhaji Amadu Ali, said from August last year to date, IPOB members had killed 12 Hausa people aside from the loss of over N42 millions of wealth destroyed by the IPOB.
“We just woke up on Wednesday and found out that one Hausa man who sells meat was shot dead while walking on the street by members of the IPOB,” he said.
He revealed that the incident did not affect only the meat seller, but another Hausa man was also killed on the same day, adding that it was surprising because they were not fighting with anybody.
“They have been killing our people one after the other since after the EndSARS protest. We never had any grudges with anybody and we didn’t touch anybody but our people are being killed on a daily basis,” he lamented.
He added that even though the IPOB is not attacking them in their houses but they have been launching attacks on their business places thereby killing people and destroying their wealth.
He complained that the security agencies are aware of what is happening because “The police gave us their vehicle to carry all the three corpse for burial and the commissioner of police has to intervene for them to give us the corpses.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Imo State on Gender, Vulnerable Groups, Northern Affairs (Men), Hon Sulaiman Ibrahim Sulaiman, said the state government, as well as all the units of security agencies, have waded into the matter.
While calling for peace to reign, Sulaiman said Governor Hope Uzodimma is disturbed by the incidents.
“We have just finished a meeting with government officials and the head of security agencies in the state.
“They’ve waded into the matter to ensure that peace reigns. We cannot continue like this. We must nip this in the bud for the peace and security of our country.”
While claiming that the killing is politically motivated, he assured the Northern community of the commitment of the government of Imo to putting a stop to the attacks.
Efforts to speak with the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Orlando Ikeokwu, were not fruitful as his phones were out of reach.
Enugu CP orders probe
The Commissioner of Police in Enugu State, Mr Mohammed Ndatsu Aliyu has ordered a quick investigation that would leave no stone unturned in unearthing the remote and immediate cause of the violence, which claimed the lives of six persons at Adani, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The State’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Daniel Ndukwe, who spoke with our correspondent, said the incident occurred at about 11 pm and 12 am on Monday.
“Actually, there were acts of violence by hoodlums and there were casualties.
“The Commissioner of Police, Mr Mohammed Aliyu had visited the scene of the incident and advised the natives to remain calm and law-abiding while the police will carry out a thorough investigation to know the root cause of the problem.
“The Commissioner of Police, has, therefore, ordered an investigation that will leave no stone unturned in unravelling the real circumstances that led to the incident,” said Ndukwe.
The PPRO, however, was silent on the actual figure of casualties but promised to issue an official statement on the matter later.
Osinbajo in Ebonyi, begs against reprisal
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has called on the people of Egedegede in Ishielu local government area of Ebonyi State, and other areas affected by attacks by gunmen not to avenge.
Osinbajo said the federal government would do everything possible to beef up security in the area and apprehend those criminal herders who carried out the last Monday massacre in Ishielu.
He maintained that Nigeria would be better and stronger in peace than staying apart.
“Federal government must find all those that carried out the killings and justice must be done. It is our responsibility to ensure that all these doesn’t take place essentially at the grassroots level.
“And you as Stakeholders at the grassroots should maintain peace in all the community, we have agreed to beef up security in those areas, more soldiers and policemen have been deployed.
“I agree with you there is great pain and the pains cannot be healed with avenge but peace, I, therefore, urged you to allow maintain peace, justice must be delivered to heal all those affected,” he said
Earlier, the state governor, David Umahi, who also took the Vice President to Egedegede and Effium for assessment, told the federal government not to allow any other herders’ attack in the South-east as being rumoured in some quarters.
Umahi asked the federal government to pay N2 billion compensation to the people of Egedegede.
The governor further called on the federal government to properly investigate the incident, adding that there was a conspiracy among the resident headers in Egedegede community before the attack.
Daily Trust gathered that over 27 persons lost their lives and properties such as motorbikes and cars were destroyed in the attack which occurred a week ago.
Other area, the vice president visited was Effium community in Ohaukwu local government area of the state where a communal clash is presenting ravaging the area.
‘End killings now’
In a reaction, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), tasked security agencies to arrest the killing of northerners in the South-East and ensure those responsible for the killings face the wrath of the law.
The ACF through its National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe said law enforcement agents must move in swiftly to arrest the situation before it gets out of hand.
“We want to know, are these mere crimes, or is it political or ethnic? The law enforcement agencies need to swiftly move in to provide answers so that people do not harp on it and create more problems for the society,” he said.
Yawe warned that to douse tension and hysteria, security agents must provide explanations as to why those northerners were killed.
“If they don’t move in swiftly and resolve the killings then definitely there will be a lot of speculations and narratives.
“If they don’t move in, people will ascribe it to IPOB, people will read a lot of meaning to it and there will be some kind of hysteria and people will start reprisal killings.
“All these things will not help and we don’t want that but as long as the police can provide an explanation, then maybe that will douse tension,” he said.