The Nigerian Navy yesterday said its men killed six members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in a gun duel during Monday’s sit-at-home.
It said contrary to reports, two of its men were not killed.
Commanding Officer, Naval Outpost, Onitsha, Anambra State, Adekunle Okeniyi, said the IPOB members were killed while trying to attack the men.
The statement reads: “The attention of the Naval Outpost, Onitsha has been drawn to some false publications that on the 9th August 2001, two naval personnel were killed at Awkuzu during a gun duel with suspected Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) members in Anambra State.
“The Naval Outpost Onitsha refutes this fake news and wishes to state categorically that none of its personnel suffered any casualty during the gun duel.
“Rather, the troops fought gallantly and were able to repel the attack which resulted in the loss of six suspected IPOB members while others suffered a serious injury.”
IPOB had announced a sit-at-home to protest the arrest and detention of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is facing terrorism charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
It said the 6 am to 6 pm exercise would be observed every Monday “until Kanu is freed”.
Southeast was on lockdown on Monday, with reports of killings and violence across the region.
IPOB had praised its security arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) for successfully enforcing the lockdown.
Yesterday in Imo State, the police said they arrested a native doctor, Ikechukwu Umaefulam, suspected to be IPOB’s chief priest.
The Commissioner of Police, Abutu Yaro, in a statement by the command’s spokesman, Mike Abattam, said a pump-action rifle with live ammunition was also recovered from him.
“Sequel to the ceaseless raids on the proscribed IPOB/ESN camps and the successful neutralisation and decimation of the terror groups in the state, the command has arrested the chief priest of the terror group.
“On 4/8/2021, at about 1820 hours, while interrogating suspects arrested from Okporo, Orlu LGA, one of the suspects revealed that they now patronise spiritual homes before attacking police stations.
“The suspect led the ever-active Imo command’s tactical team to the home of one Ikechukwu Umaefulem, the Chief Priest and Spiritual leader of Life Sabbath Synagogue Amii, Akabo in Ikeduru LGA.
“When his spiritual home and premises were searched, police recovered one pump action gun with five rounds of live ammunition,” he said.
He added that one improvised explosive device, knockouts, gun powder and a Biafran flag were recovered from him.
Traders counted their losses yesterday in the aftermath of Monday’s lockdown.
A barber Benedict Osuji and a hairdresser, Mrs Irene Eleuwa, said the lockdown prevented them from earning any income. They had to rely on their savings.
A mechanic, Emeka Nwosu said he managed to feed his family with his savings.
A trader, Mrs Cecelia Mgbaosoruru, urged Federal Government to find a way to prevent another lockdown.
Markets and financial institutions in Aba, the commercial nerve of Abia State, witnessed a huge turnout of customers yesterday.
Banking halls witnessed a huge turnout of customers.
A trader at Ariaria International Market said they lost billions of naira due to the lockdown.
A staff of one of the commercial banks told our correspondent that they anticipated the crowd and rush and made necessary arrangements to deal with the situation.
In Ebonyi, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) traded words over the alleged killings recorded during Monday’s sit-at-home.
At least, three persons were reportedly killed in the state by hoodlums.
The PDP said the three killed were shot dead by yet to be identified gunmen at the boundary between Ohaozara and Onicha LGA.
According to the party in a statement by its spokesperson, Silas Onu, the killings could have been avoided if Governor David Umahi had not assured law-abiding citizens that adequate security would be provided.
The party said: “It is irresponsible to assure people of safety and then not be present to ensure that safety.
“Instead of being in Ebonyi at such a time, especially, after issuing threats against those who planned to obey the sit-at-home order and promising security for law-abiding citizens, the governor preferred to be out of the state, thus leaving the people vulnerable because of lack of leadership in ensuring that people move freely.
“The governor ought to be present and lead the entire state in the direction that he preferred by ensuring that, just like him, others can move freely in the State today.
“We condemn this irresponsible act which emboldened some law-abiding citizens to disobey the IPOB and paid the supreme price due to lack of leadership to protect them as guaranteed by the governor.
“It is advised that leaders should rather remain silent in such situations if they have no contingency plans for the protection of law-abiding citizens by leading the disregard for such sit at home orders, rather than speak to please certain sentiments and thereby endangering the lives of citizens needlessly.”
The party called on IPOB to realise that killing innocent citizens for whatever reason is not a solution to the many challenges the nation is presently faced with.
It noted that dialogue is a better path to attaining whatever goal is intended.
The State APC spokesperson, Simbad Ogbuatu, described the PDP’s statement as self-revealing and illogical.
He accused the PDP of masterminding the killings and blaming it on IPOB.
He said: “What it all means is that the Ebonyi State PDP and its Southeast leadership have hands in the attacks and murder of the trio and other attacks and killings Ebonyi State had experienced in the recent past. This is very glaring in the party’s latest press release”.
“It is also to advance the submission that it is either the PDP is impersonating IPOB in Ebonyi State or that the political party is a faction of the IPOB.
“We dare make these submissions because the IPOB we know to be led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu had earlier suspended its sit-at-home order, citing the ongoing NECO examinations as a reason for the suspension and this IPOB we know did not claim responsibility for the killings of the three innocent Ebonyians.
‘“So, how did Ebonyi PDP through its Publicity Secretary conclude that the murder was perpetrated by IPOB because Governor Umahi told law-abiding Ebonyi citizens to disobey the group sit at home order?
“When did Ebonyi PDP become Emma Powerful; the spokesman of IPOB? Something is really fishy.”