Bloodbath in Abia: 16 killed as troops, police, ESN clash

UMUAHIA—Soldiers of the 144 Battalion, stationed at Ariaria junction, along the Enugu–Port Harcourt expressway, yesterday, allegedly killed 16 gunmen who engaged them during a fierce gun battle. A military source, however, said it had been a joint operation of the Nigerian Army and police which led to the death of about 16 gunmen who were operatives of the Eastern Security Network, ESN

The source said many security operatives on Tuesday night launched an important attack on the camp of the ESN in Aba, Abia State, killing no fewer than 16 of them and injuring others. it had been gathered that the operation was in response to a series of attacks against security personnel within the South-East. Not but 20 security operatives are killed within the region by unknown gunmen within the last three months. Police stations also are not overlooked within the assault as four of them were razed since January. This came as the Abia government raised an alarm that arms and hoodlums had been imported and camped during a location in Aba for the March 27, 2021, Aba North/South federal constituency by-election. However, the Nigerian Army, and therefore the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, have dismissed as fake, the report that the military attacked the ESN camp in Aba, killing no fewer than 16 personnel of the safety outfit. The alleged killing is coming 48 hours after three policemen were ambushed and murdered by hoodlums in Abiriba, in Ohafia Local Council of Abia State. The gunmen, said to be numbering about 50, engaged the soldiers at their checkpoint at the Ariaria junction.

Sources told Vanguard that before the gunmen arrived the area; the soldiers had gathered intelligence and laid in await them. As soon because the gunmen arrived, they opened fire but the soldiers responded. within the ensuing gun duel which was said to possess lasted for over half-hour , 16 persons were shot dead within the duel. Other members of the gang reportedly sustained bullet wounds. However, there are conflicting reports about the amount of casualties.

While some sources said 16 persons were killed, among them, a soldier, a top military source in Aba said only 11 gunmen were killed while there was no casualty on the side of the military . “No soldier was killed, but we killed 11 of the gunmen. I assure the general public that there was no casualty among the soldiers.” he said. Reacting to the incident, Abia government commended the soldiers for his or her gallantry, stressing that it’s committed to the protection of lives and properties of Abia residents. Military didn’t attack ESN camp in Abia —Army IPOB Assistant Director Army PR , 14 Brigade, Ohafia, Captain Iliya Dauda, told Vanguard in Aba that there was no operation against any ESN camp in Abia.

He rather explained that unknown gunmen attacked a military checkpoint at Osisioma junction Aba but were repelled. He said there have been no casualty on the a part of the military but begged for longer to receive report from their men at the scene investigating and assessing the incident. the military spokesman urged members of the general public to disregard the said report which he insisted was false. Similarly, IPOB dismissed the said report as cheap propaganda by those that planted it.

IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary Emma Powerful, during a reaction said no ESN camp was attacked in Abia. He rather claimed that the military indiscriminately arrested innocent Igbo young men and tagged them ESN personnel and executed them to make an impact that that they had inflicted casualty on ESN. Powerful said ESN was formidable and will not be easily dislodged by the Nigerian security agencies, adding that the outfit is within the forest to urge obviate terrorists. “They gathered innocent people last night and tagged them ESN operatives. allow them to tell the planet which ESN camp they attacked. Nigeria soldiers in their normal ways removed some young men’s clothes and saw marks on their body, then they arrested and tagged them IPOB and ESN members.” But during a swift response, Captain Dauda denied any involvement of the military within the allegation, saying it had been concocted to whomp up sentiments. He said the alleged photos of corpses within the said story were photoshops, insisting that the military didn’t perform any operation in any a part of Abia.

Abia govt raises alarm over Importation of hoodlums, arms Decrying alleged procurement of arms and importation hoodlums camped during a location in Aba for the March 27 election by one among the opposition parties, the Abia government tasked the safety agencies to make sure that the hoodlums are swiftly arrested while others on the way are prevented from entering the state. Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu who disclosed this in Umuahia, explained that intelligence reports available to the state revealed that the opposition party plans to overheat the polity as a prelude to calling for full deployment of the military which can successively create room for the deployment of the hoodlums with fake uniforms and procured arms.“ His words: “Specifically, we are aware that about 200 armed youths have already been camped at a location and are awaiting deployment with fake uniform made available to them by an Abia born retired Army General who only recently joined the opposition party, with the intention of unleashing mayhem on the people of the state. “We advise the police and military supreme headquarters also as office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and therefore the Department of State Services (DSS) to be wary of the antics of desperate politicians seeking for expansion of family enterprise, even at the expense of precious lives of citizens instead of growth and unity of our nation.” Lagbaja, 82 Division GOC tasks soldiers on alertness Meanwhile, the overall Officer Commanding, 82 Division Nigerian Army, Maj General Abiodun Lagbaja, yesterday, told officers and men of the 302 Artillery Regiment (General Support), in Onitsha, to stay professional and responsive within the discharge of their duties. Major General Lagbaja, also charged the soldiers to be aware of their safety while at their duty posts, warning that they ought to not relax as if they’re at their homes, even as he warned them about leaving just one person at their duty post for any reason to offer hoodlums opportunities to attack them.

He also enjoined the soldiers to make sure full enforcement of the State Government’s order banning tinted vehicles and covered number plates. Major Gen Lagbaja’s visit is coming one week after hoodlums attacked two military check points in Anambra State where they killed three Nigerian Navy officers and made away with their riffles. The GOC who assured his officers and men that the military authority is functioning hard to enhance on their welfare, advised them to require the Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine to safeguard themselves and their loved ones from the dreaded Corona-virus pandemic. He said: “The Nigerian Army will still perform its constitutional responsibilities with high sense of professionalism despite any sort of provocation. “As soldiers, if you’re six during a duty post, stick together and at alert. If you want to give permission for anybody to eat, you want to not allow quite one person at a time to go away for any excuse. If you observe the principles of your engagement, there’ll not be any issue of human rights violation within the discharge of your jobs or attack against you. “I have gone round Anambra State and that i have discovered that soldiers are misbehaving. IPOB is trying to inform the planet that we are Army of occupation and you want to not prove them right. you want to discharge your duties as soldiers of the Nigerian Army. “The job we ask you to try to to isn’t to harrass and intimidate people or collect money at road blocks. once you stick together , you’ll fight together against the enemies. Permit just one person out at a time.” He acknowledged that the soldiers have tons of problems militating against their jobs but assured them that these problems are being addressed especially accommodation and other issues, adding that in no distant time, those problems are going to be a thing of the past. “I am here for the primary time because the GOC 82 Division to sympathise with the Nigerian Navy Onitsha Out Post for the loss of their three personnel and fire arms and to familiarize with you and know a number of the issues you face. “The Nigerian Army under the leadership of Lt General Ibrahim Attahiru is sincere in addressing your welfare issues and therefore the only thanks to pay back for his genuine commitment is to figure hard and in line with the principles of your engagement.”

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