Nigeria arrests eight suspected separatists in southeast
Nigerian police said they had arrested eight separatists suspected of killing six people last month in the country’s troubled southeast.
The suspects have “all confessed to be members of the dreadful IPOB ESN syndicate terrorizing the good people of Imo state and had a hand in the recent killing of four police officers and two civilians,” state police said in press release late Sunday.
IPOB is the Indigenous People of Biafra movement, which wants a separate state for the Igbo people in southeast Nigeria, while the ESN is its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network.
Attacks blamed on IPOB have seen dozens of police officers killed in the last two years in southeastern Nigeria — just one of several security crises confronting President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Local government offices and electoral agency buildings have also been targeted. IPOB denies any responsibility.
Four policemen were killed on April 21 in the Ngor-Okpala district of Imo state, as well as two civilians who were hit by stray rounds.
Four men aged 44 to 43 were arrested, a move that opened the way to the arrest last Thursday of four other IPOB members, who were seized at their hideout after a shootout, the police statement said.
Several wounded separatists escaped, and arms and ammunition were found on the premises.
Separatism is a sensitive issue in Nigeria, where a declaration of an independent Biafra Republic by Igbo army officers in the southeast in 1967 triggered a three-year civil war that left more than a million dead.
The armed forces are also battling a 14-year-long jihadist insurgency in the northeast and heavily armed bandit militias in northwest and central states.
Tinubu, a former Lagos governor, comes to office this month after winning elections in February marked by technical difficulties, delays and opposition claims of massive vote rigging.
© Agence France-Presse