The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Imo State Police Command, yesterday, clashed over allegation by the command that it was IPOB’s armed group, Eastern Security Network, ESN, that attacked traditional rulers, killed two of them and injured one at Njaba local government headquarters during a meeting of the monarchs.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mike Abattam, made this disclosure in a statement to newsmen in Owerri.
But IPOB in a reaction asked the police why they were unable to provide security at the venue of the meeting even as the group denied the allegation saying, it holds all the traditional rulers in Igbo land in high regard and cannot involve in any act of desecration of their office and their person, more especially, for the fact that the father of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was one of them.
IPOB said it cannot insult or harm any traditional ruler in Igboland and beyond, no matter any provocation.
IPOB spoke as the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma described last Tuesday’s unknown gunmen’s attack on traditional rulers at Njaba local government headquarters as a new dimension of banditry that would be stopped.
The Imo Police command in a release yesterday, also gave the names of the deceased as HRH Eze S. C Osunwa of Ihebinowere Autonomous Community and HRH Eze Barr A. E Durueburuo of Okwudor Autonomous Community. HRH Eze A. N Onyeka ( JP ) of Nkume Autonomous Community sustained gunshot injuries.
The command said when it got the information of the attack, they mobilized a special squad but on getting to the scene of the incident, the hoodlums had fled to the bush on hearing that the Policemen were on their way.
He further said the attackers were able to gain entrance into the venue of the meeting because the security agencies were not properly invited to provide security at the meeting.
The Police also blamed the pro-Biafra group for burning the police division within the location of the attack to enable them to carry out their operation on attacks on individuals in the Njaba axis.
According to the Police, “On 19/10/2021 at about 1500 hours, following information received that hoodlums suspected to be members of the proscribed IPOB/ ESN members are attacking the venue where the traditional chairman of Njaba local government is meeting with some traditional rulers, the Commissioner of Police, CP Rabiu Hussaini immediately, dispatched the command’s tactical teams comprising of the Special forces, Rapid Response Squad and Anti-kidnapping Squad to the scene.
“On their arrival at the scene, they were informed by the police patrol teams patrolling the area that the hoodlums fled into the bush on sighting them.
“At the scene, it was revealed that the traditional chairman of Njaba local government, Hon. Emeka Ihenacho invited and was meeting with fifteen traditional rulers of Njaba communities without informing the police or other security agencies.
“While the meeting was in progress, armed bandits suspected to be IPOB/ ESN members came and started shooting at them indiscriminately after which they ran back into the bush.
“Unfortunately, two of the traditional rulers namely, HRH Eze S. C Osunwa of Ihebinowere Autonomous Community and HRH Eze Barr A. E Durueburuo of Okwudor Autonomous Community lost their lives in the attack while HRH Eze A. N Onyeka ( JP ) of Nkume Autonomous Community sustained gunshot injury.
“It is on record that the police station in Njaba was recently attacked and razed down by hoodlums suspected to be IPOB/ ESN terror groups, where two police officers lost their lives. Thus, the command had to post Policemen to the area on vehicular patrols to help in checkmating crimes and criminality pending when a new police station will be rebuilt.
“The command is exploring all avenues possible to see that the fleeing bandits are arrested and prosecuted,” Police said.
IPOB berates Imo police
But the Indigenous People of Biafra yesterday, lashed out on the Imo State Police Command over its allegation that it had a hand in the killing of two traditional rulers.
A statement by IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful accused the Imo State Police command of speaking against IPOB as they were directed by Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma.
IPOB berated the Imo State Police Command for not being able to act, speak or do anything except and unless the state governor Senator Uzodimma directed them.
Wondering why the Imo State Police Command could not show its presence in a gathering of eminent Imo people in the caliber of traditional rulers and Presidents General of town unions, IPOB told the Police in Imo State and the governor it alleged is manipulating them to bury their faces in shame for failing in their duties to give the people security when they needed it most.
“While we maintain that we value, hold in high esteem and respect our traditional rulers and those other ethnic groups and cannot desecrate their office by attacking or killing any of them, the pertinent question the Imo State Police Command and the yet to be accepted governor that is directing them to accuse IPOB of that heinous and abominable crime is: where were they when the gun men attacked the traditional rulers and their town union leaders.
“We will not be surprised tomorrow to read in the papers that the Police in Imo State that could not provide security for traditional rulers and town union leaders who were having a meeting will arrest innocent youths and tag them IPOB and ESN members and claim they were responsible for the alleged killing of the traditional rulers.
“The Police particularly those in the southeast have no shame. All they know is extortion. When they will be busy extorting peo ple on the roads, they will forget their primary responsibility of protecting the people and when they fail or are found wanting in their duties like they failed yesterday in Njaba LGA, they and their clueless Governor Uzodimma will start accusing IPOB and ESN.
“We maintain our stand that the Imo Police do the bidding of the governor against IPOB and ESN.
“Whatever we say against the Imo State Governor and Imo State Police command, we stand by it because they are incontrovertible.
“They should both explain why eminent people like traditional rulers and Presidents General of communities in Njaba LGA will be meeting and no Police presence was seen, no Army or other security agents’ presence was noticed there.”
This new dimension to banditry’ll not be allowed —Uzodimma
Uzodimma spoke in Owerri while commiserating with the families of the monarchs who lost their lives in the attack.
The governor said the attack was an act of wickedness and desecration of the land and that it came to him as a rude shock.
However, Uzodimma said he would ensure the perpetrators would be captured and face the law.
According to the Imo governor: “The news of the attack on traditional rulers of Njaba Local Government Area by some hoodlums which resulted in some casualties came to me as a rude shock and this is a clear exhibition of wickedness and desecration of sacred stool.
“I commiserate with the people of Njaba over this incident as I vow to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book. This new dimension to banditry where they will now be attacking traditional rulers would not be allowed to flourish on our soil.”
Eye witnesses pooh-pooh police account
Meantime, some aggrieved respondents, who spoke on strict grounds of anonymity, confirmed to newsmen yesterday, that what was on the day’s bill, was a stakeholders meeting called by the council chairman, Emeka Iheanacho and not a traditional rulers meeting.
They described the police claim that they were not notified about the meeting, as “untrue and uncharitable”.
One of the respondents, a native of Ibele community in Umuaka axis of the local government area who attended the meeting was emphatic that “the police was notified about the meeting and a police team was actually sighted at the venue.
His words: “It is sad to hear the police claim that they were not notified about the stakeholders meeting. Almost everyone in attendance saw the Operation Search and Flush team at the venue of the meeting. It would be most unfair to say the Police was not notified.
“They were actually the reason some of the people were emboldened to attend the meeting. They left the Council Headquarters less than an hour after the meeting commenced.
“Just before they eventually left, a number of persons had noticed the Council Chairman, Emeka Iheanacho, arguing with their leader on why he cannot pull out his men after the meeting had already commenced.”
Continuing, the angry villager said: “It was later gathered that they said they were summoned by their Commander to return to Owerri. About an hour or two after the police team left, the hoodlums struck.
“So to say the least, it is offensive for the police to suggest they were not notified about the meeting. And if they were patrolling Njaba like they assured, they obviously would not miss a gathering of that nature.”
Answering another question, the villager reasoned that “the Council Chairman who is still battling to save the lives of the other people who are in critical conditions in the hospital would have had a say about the police claim.”
Release Kanu, S-East monarchs tell FG
Meanwhile, Traditional rulers in South East have demanded from Federal Government, the release of leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.
The monarchs who made the demand under the their umbrella body of South East Council of Traditional Rulers, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to release Kanu from detention into the hands of the Igbo traditional and religious leaders.
Rising from a meeting, the royal fathers expressed worry over the escalation of crisis in the South East with the attendant hardship on the people.
They lamented that they “have watched with utter dismay and sadness the rapid deterioration of the affairs of Igbo land resulting in gruesome killings, destruction of properties, a general atmosphere of fear and aprogressive militarisation of our home land”.
Besides the the five South East states, the monarchs said “in other Igbo speaking areas, there is a distinct feeling of disaffection, frustration and distrust, all of which are alien to our culture and tradition as a people”.
They called on the President to show sagacity, pragmatism, statesmanship and fatherliness by de-proscribing the IPOB as a terrorist organization.
In a 15-paragragh statement signed by Eze Joseph N. Nwabeke, the Chairman, Abia State Tradtional Rulers Council; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, the Chairman, Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council; Igwe L.O.C. Agubuzu, the Chairman, Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council and Eze Dr. E.C. Okeke, the Chairman Imo State Traditional Rulers Council, they also called on President Buhari to de-escalate the military presence in the South East zone.
While engaging Buhari, the monarchs also urged “all stakeholders in the entire cross section of Alaigbo to shealt their swords and let us rally together for mutual forgiveness and healing so as to reset our strategic for engaging meaningful with our fellow citizens in other parts of the country.
“Cutting our nose to spite out face does not help our present situation.
“It is senseless to destroy our home land or be assessoty to its destruction in order for us to prove our marginalization”.
The royal fathers noted that the present challenges in Alaigbo and the entire nation is not insurmountable if genuinely addressed with honesty, mutual respect and full recognition that lasting peace, progress d would come from dialogue not through arm conflict and a general atmosphere of fear and intimidation.”
They therefore urged President Buhari “to show sagacity, pragmatism, statesmanship and release Nnamdi Kanu into the hands of Igbo tradition and religious leaders.”