Fear grips Anambra communities as gunmen kill 12 in Oko, Ekwulobia
These are definitely not the best of times for residents and indigenes of Ekwulobia and Oko communities in Aguata and Orumba North Local Councils of Anambra State, following repeated bloody assaults by gunmen.
Within seven days, 12 people have been killed, while some were kidnapped with few lucky ones escaping alive. Oko is home to a Federal Polytechnic, while the Federal College (Technical) is located at Umunze, with a large students’ population, commercial and business activities.
A resident said they are now sleeping with one eye open, while many homes, public institutions and commuters are not sure of getting to their destinations.
The resident, who spoke in confidence, said although the identities of the gunmen, who are unleashing terror and threatening the security and peace in the axis, are not ascertained, they are suspected to be members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN), kidnappers, cultists or armed robbers.
On Saturday, hell was let loose as the rampaging gunmen killed two at Ekwulobia, one at Oko and another at Amaokpala. A resident in Oko told The Guardian that two weeks ago, precisely on Tuesday, some gunmen killed two at Ekwulobia, including a traffic warden.
He said: “Two Saturdays ago, another gang killed two at St Peter Oko axis before moving down to Pal Junction in Oko, where they murdered another person. But a source said the Oko killing is suspected to be a business gone awry.
“As people in the area were about to breath a sigh of relief in killings, another group of gunmen stormed Oko community last Thursday night at about 8:00p.m. and killed one person,besides Holy Trinity petrol station. They broke some lockup shops and made away with some items, but nobody could tell if they were armed robbers or gunmen.”
The killing followed last Thursday’s killing of a professor of Economics and former permanent secretary in the old Anambra State. Prof. I.O. Onyemelukwe.
It was gathered that the 88-year-old first class graduate was father of a Canadian scholar and winner of the Nigeria prize for Literature, 2021, Prof. Cheluchi Onyemelukwe. He was returning to Nanka from Enugu with his wife and decided to follow the Oji, Ufuma, Amaokpala, Oko axis instead of going through Awka when he was attacked by the hoodlums.
The gunmen, who were said to have operated around 9:00p.m. had a field day as they operated for about 30 minutes, before leaving the area. They also abducted two men, who were said to have been unable to answer questions that bothered on the self-determination struggle of IPOB.
An eyewitness, Iyke Orji, who narrated the story, said the men shot randomly, while causing a huge vehicular traffic as they operated. He said: “They gunned down an old man who they interrogated first and asked him questions relating to the IPOB struggle.
“They stopped a Lexus 330 jeep and kidnapped the driver. A Toyota Camry (spider) was bashed. These young boys successfully carried out their operation for about 26 minutes without being repelled by security agencies.
“They drove away with two persons, leaving one dead at the scene. To God be the glory as I ran today and visibly observed, I also lost my screen device.”
Other incidents at Ekwulobia, The Guardian gathered, include attack at a petrol station in the night before two people were shot dead, and attack at Amazon the same night by another set of gunmen, where a security personnel was killed and his service pistol taken away.
Recently, it was reported that on one occasion, the criminals were unfortunate to miss their target, who escaped death by whiskers. A source recalled that the gunmen told the people to stop running, as they were not after them, but had internal matters to settle.
Reacting to the killings, spokesperson for Anambra State Command, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Toochukwu Ikenga, said the Commissioner of Police, Echeng Echeng, has reiterated unwavering commitment towards weeding out unrepentant criminals elements from the state. He enjoined law-abiding citizens to remain vigilant and continue to support the command in the fight against acts of crime and criminality.