The Nigerian Army stormed Mgbidi, Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State and engaged in a gun battle with members of the dreaded Eastern Security Network (ESN).
In the fierce battle, the troops made up of soldiers, policemen and Naval officers killed the commanding officer of the Indigenous people of Biafra “Ikonso” regarded as the second-in-command to Nnamdi Kanu.
Six members were also shot dead and many were injured while their hideout was destroyed.
However, analysts see it as extra-judicial killing, opining that the army should have arrested the suspects for trial by court.
Nigerian Army’s statement
As a confirmation, Nigerian Army said the onslaught was led by a combined team of security forces called “The Operational Headquarters of IPOB/ESN inside Awomama Village, Oru East LGA of Imo State.
“The Nigeria Army Nigerian Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS),” according to a statement by Army spokesman, Mohammed Yerima.
The operation, according to the army, followed a strong intelligence report about the location of the Operational Headquarters and the movement of the overall Commander popularly known as Ikonson Commander.”
The statement noted “The IRT and DSS teams together with troops of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army monitored the group since the attacks that happened for Imo State Police Command and Owerri Correctional Center on April 5, 2021.
“We neutralise the said Ikonson Commander who was the mastermind of those attacks together with multiple attacks for South East and South South regions along with 6 other top Commanders,” Nigerian army stated.
“The joint intelligence team as interviewed IPOB/ESN group many times and made arrest in connection with the April 5 attacks and all of them confessed that Ikonson Commander was the leader, Nnamdi Kanu name as Vice President was the person who together with men and resources planned the attacks on Owerri.
Like A Reprisal Attack
In what looked like a reprisal attack, unknown gunmen attacked the hometown of Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma house in Omuma, Oru East Local Government Area of the state killing his guards.
This was as Emma Power, IPOB spokesperson, in a statement, vowed to retaliate Governor Uzodinma seeing him as the brain behind their misfortune particularly in the killing of IPOB top commanders.
The attack occurred early Saturday morning as the assailants were said to have deployed petrol bomb which resulted into a fire outbreak in the Governor’s compound.
The Imo State Police Command had confirmed the burning of the house of the governor of Imo State, Sen. Hope Uzodinma at Omuma in Oru East Local Government Area of the state.
A statement issued by the command and signed by the Police Public Relations Officer, SP Orlando Ikeokwu Godson, said that the hoodlums attacked the governor’s house by throwing in a petrol bomb as a result of which two cars were burnt.
According to him, one unarmed operative of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, was killed in the process, while a police sergeant and another NSCDC operative in their private vehicles at Mgbidi junction along Owerri-Onitsha express high way were killed, when the attackers were escaping.
The IPOB has now reacted, promising ”hell for all those who had a hand in the attack”.
In a press statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, on Saturday night, IPOB strongly condemned the attack and described the death of the ESN commander as ” very painful”.
IPOB then accused Imo state Governor, Hope Uzodima of colluding with the security operatives to murder Ikonso for allegedly turning down the governor’s lucrative offer to head the Ebubeagu security outfit announced by South-East governors to combat crime in the region.
IPOB said that Uzodima ‘had murdered sleep’ so should ‘be ready to stay awake.’
The statement read “IPOB ably led by our great leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, strongly condemn the unprovoked attack on some members of IPOB and ESN operatives at Oguta junction at Mgbidi, along Owerri road Onitsha expressway by a joint security force comprising the army, police and DSS operatives, with the support of Imo State Government.
“The killing of the heroic innocent Biafrans protecting our communities and towns from Fulani terrorist herdsmen masquerading as cattle herders in cold blood is very painful.
”Hope Uzodinma and all those who had a hand in this wickedness will pay dearly. Hope Uzodinma and his cowardly Nigerian security agencies cannot confront Fulani terrorists but only flex their muscles when they see Biafra agitators.
“For murdering Ikonso, the ESN unit COMMANDER in a cold blood, Uzodima has stirred the hornet nest! He should get ready for a sting.
“Uzodinma allegedly decided to kill Ikonso because he refused his offer to head Ebubeagu ghost security outfit formed by South-East governors.
”Uzodima has tried but without success to lure ESN operatives into EBUBEAGU. He had made irresistible offers to them which were turned down, hence his resorting to the elimination of these patriotic heroes who vowed never to betray Biafra.
“Hope Uzodinma sent a lot of emissaries to beg Ikonso and other ESN officers to join EBUBEAGU security outfit. So, because of their refusal to betray Biafra agitation and our Leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the governor mobilized joint security forces to attack them today.”
Both All Progressives Congress (APC) and Muhammadu Buhari’s Next-Level administration have reacted to the killing.
However, APC warned Nigerian youths not to allow themselves to be used to fight other tribes or communities.
The APC tweeted on Sunday: “Dear Nigerian youth. Don’t allow anyone to send you to war with another Nigerian, community, state or tribe. Those things native doctors would give you cannot protect you. Military technology of today is beyond our native doctors who have not made any advancement in 100 yrs!” the party tweeted.
“War destroys communities and families and often disrupts the development of the social and economic fabric of nations. The effects of war include long-term physical and psychological harm to children and adults, as well as reduction in material and human capital.
“Armed conflict has important indirect negative consequences on infrastructure, public health provision, and social order. These indirect consequences are often overlooked and unappreciated.”
On his part, Senator Theodore Orji urged the Southeast Governors to leave the members of the eastern security network and focus on the protection of its people.
Orji who was the immediate past Governor of Abia State told Vanguard newspapers, “What I want is something that will protect our lives and properties.”
”People are being killed everyday; therefore, the Southeast Governors should defend their people instead of fighting with ESN.
”The sudden attack on members of the eastern security network must be commended because their members have carried out several crimes in the region. However, I’ll use this opportunity to let the army know that they can do the same to Boko Haram terrorists and bandits,’’ he added.
Also, Reno Omokri, popular social media activist, has asked the Nigerian Army why they could not use the force in killing of ESN leader Ikonso to routing Boko Haram.
Taking to his Twitter handle, Omokri queried ”Can’t the Nigerian Army also take out leaders of Boko Haram, bandits and killer herdsmen troubling Nigeria, the same way they took out alleged ESN leader Ikonso. Or, are they only strong when it comes to ESN, and weak when it comes to Boko Haram, Bandits and Herdsmen?’’