…Forces Behind Owerri Attacks – Inside Sources
…IPOB/ESN Not Responsible – Uzodinma
…Secession Inevitable – IPOB Legal Officer
BEVERLY HILLS, April 11, (THEWILL) – Owerri, the capital of Imo, the state also known as the Eastern Heartland, is now quiet. Political gladiators in the state appear to have recoiled to their tents for fear of being associated with the bombings and massive destructions, last Monday, of two Federal institutions in the state capital – the Police Headquarters and the State Correctional Centre. While the well-coordinated and deadly attacks that rocked the once-peaceful town to its foundation sent jitters down the spine of the much-rattled state governor, Hope Uzodinma, as well as the residents, President Muhammadu Buhari, from his hospital bed in far-away London, could not help but describe the actions of the faceless attackers as the handiwork of terrorists.
SHOCKING AND UNPRECEDENTED
Though the shocking and quite unprecedented incident in the state was the last straw that broke the camel’s back for the immediate past Inspector – General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, as he was fired while on a trip to the troubled town for a first-hand assessment of the magnitude of damage done to Police facility, most residents are still worried about what really happened in the wee hours of that fateful Monday. They were woken up by the deafening sound of dynamites and explosives deployed by the attackers to blow up the Police Command Headquarters and the Nigerian Correctional Service Centre, where over 600 detainees and 1,881 inmates respectively, were released.
Adamu was quick to fire the first salvo, accusing the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN) of being responsible for the attacks. The State Governor, Uzodimma, however contradicted the claims of the immediate past IGP, saying the hoodlums were hired from outside the state by disgruntled politicians, noting that they were only disguising to be IPOB members.
“What happened in Imo state last Monday is unbelievable. A group of hoodlums, of course, sponsored by some known politicians in Imo state, decided to destroy public infrastructure and government facilities — and attacked a correctional centre facility and also attacked a police state headquarters.
“But what is important to take home is for Nigerians to know of the plot by a group of aggrieved politicians to destablise the government of APC.
“I have done some thorough investigation and I have a credible lead as to those who are sponsoring these activities of these hoodlums. We are working hard to ensure that the sponsors of these dastardly acts must be brought to book,” he said.
The Governor added: “They (politicians) try to identify grievances of people in a particular area. They hire hoodlums from outside Imo state. They bring them in pretending to be IPOB and they commit this crime and they go away.
“It is not about IPOB. Yes, we agree, we have aggrieved IPOB members. But I can tell you, those who are doing these destructions, most of them were brought from outside Imo state.”
CONTRADICTIONS AND CONSPIRACY THEORIES
IPOB, through its spokesman, Emma Powerful, has denied involvement of the separatist groups in the attack, saying: “The Nigeria Government should stop linking IPOB and ESN to the multiple attacks going on in Nigeria now. IPOB was formed on the principle of peace and we are still in it. Unknown gunmen are different people; we don’t know them and they are not IPOB or ESN security outfit.”
An insider source close to IPOB, however, said the attacks might not be unconnected with the 40-Day ultimatum allegedly given by IPOB Leader, Nnamdi Kanu, to all government security agencies to vacate ‘Biafra’ land as the mayhem in Owerri happened two days to the expiration of the ultimatum.
“We had to carry out the instruction of our leader,” the source, who craved anonymity, told THEWILL. “The security agencies and any form of Federal presence in Igbo land are considered by IPOB as an attempt to overpower the agitating youths and members. The attack on the Police Command and the Correctional Center was an expression of our rejection of Federal presence in Igbo land.”
According to the source, “When we engaged in peaceful protest of our plight to the United Nations and the government of the United Kingdom, nothing came from it. Even our leaders here do not mean well. They are selling our land and we do not feel answerable to them anymore.
WHAT TRIGGERED THE ATTACKS
Though people are still wondering what would have triggered these attacks, especially as there have been blames, accusations and denials as to those behind the attack, THEWILL investigation has however revealed not only the forces behind the Owerri attacks and their real reasons for the massive destruction of the security infrastructure in the state, it is now becoming more evident that the freedom forcefully gained by the fleeing criminals have increased the tempo of crime rate not only across the state but the entire South East region since the incident occurred.
Barrister Ohaeto Uwazie, the Legal Officer of IPOB, offered a great insight into the whole mayhem even as he described the incident as “an embarrassing situation.”
In an exclusive chat with THEWILL, Uwazie said: “Nobody expected it, but it happened. It wasn’t the IPOB nor the Eastern Security Network who did it. IPOB is different from ESN and ESN is different from Unknown Gunmen. There are different groups involved in the struggle. I am speaking in my capacity as one of the officials of IPOB. In fact, we don’t even know those in ESN and vice-versa. IPOB are those who are carrying flags, the Biafran flag, and they do their agitation openly. The ESN is out to chase out the Fulani, they are against the Fulani occupation of Biafran land; they don’t want the cattle-rearing Fulani, occupying our ancestral land, killing our farmers and raping our women. They don’t want them; that’s their own rule of engagement.
ESN NOT PART OF IPOB
Barrister Uwazie also condemned what he described as a growing misconception by Nigerians who refer to the ESN as a part of IPOB.
“It is not true, it’s wrong,” he said. “They are not the same thing because the IPOB doesn’t know them and they don’t know IPOB. IPOB is Nnamdi Kanu’s, he’s the Commander. But ESN is a different group. There is IPOB, ESN and a lot of others.”
He was however emphatic on the difference in the modus operandi of the various groups in the Biafran struggle.
“The Unknown Gunmen are different. They are the ones that kicked against the Nigerian soldiers, the police killing innocent people, their loved ones, some years ago. So, they are on a revenge mission to get back at the soldiers, the police who were killing innocent people, putting them in prisons and detention. Then, we were crying and shouting that you don’t treat people like that. If you say you want Nigeria, these people said they don’t want Nigeria, they want to go and you are forcing them, killing them. Instead of you to pacify them, talk to them, you keep shooting them, killing them like animals, killing people anyhow, wasting innocent souls. Now, their children have come to revenge and everybody is happy. That is just the truth, we speak the truth here. So, the Unknown Gunmen is an arm of the struggle to revenge for those who the soldiers and the police killed innocently,” he said.
“And when this thing started in Imo State, they started looking for IPOB and I told them that if you start this thing, you are creating more problems, it’s like pouring fuel to a burning fire. If you touch any IPOB member, the state would be set ablaze.”
DESTROYING SECURITY INFRASTRUCTURE
On the destruction of the security infrastructure across Igboland and the implications for the South East as a region, Uwazie was blunt.
“Yes, the infrastructure must be destroyed,” he fired back. “Because the infrastructure are being used to oppress the innocent people by the police. Innocent people are being detained because they are Biafran agitators, they are being killed and detained. If you arrest somebody and you don’t take him to court, they keep them in police detention. And the ones they take to court, they put them in the prisons, awaiting trial for more than 10 years under terrible conditions. IPOB members that have been arrested, some are dying in detention. So these people came to salvage the situation. I know what I’m talking about. The infrastructure is our own and they use the infrastructure as an instrument of suppression. When you oppress somebody to the extent that that person picks a gun, then you must know that things have changed.”
READY TO DIE
Continuing, Uwazie declared: “Let me tell you, most people in the East see themselves as dead persons, even myself. As far as I’m concerned, I’m a dead man. Since 2020, I considered myself as a dead man. It was the year I died and celebrated my funeral ceremony. So, you cannot intimidate me with death. And the strong IPOB members are like that. You cannot intimidate them with death. And all the guys carrying guns are all dead people. So it is a soldier who is being paid by the Federal Government with tax payers’ money that should be afraid of death, not the people who are already dead.”
IPOB DON’T CARRY GUNS
Describing IPOB as the intellectual arm of the struggle, he maintained that IPOB doesn’t carrying guns. He said the government should rather dialogue with the agitators other than fighting and killing them. But when asked whether IPOB is still open to dialogue with the Federal Government, “I doubt,” was his reply. “Hmm, I doubt” because according to him, “the era of dialogue has already passed. Now, it is secession! What you have now is declaration of referendum, declaration of Biafra, that’s all. We want to go and we can be good neighbours with Nigeria. Any other region that wants to go, we will help them to be free. So, whatever the North wants from us, we will give them and whatever we want from them, they will give us. Some of them who want to stay in Biafraland will be very free. In fact, there is a rule now in IPOB, if you molest any Fulani man in the cities, and they report you, we’ll deal with you. But those in the bushes, we don’t want. Come into the city, pay your house rent and do legitimate business.”
FIGHT TO THE FINISH
“Yes, the era of dialogue is already gone. The Federal Government has brought in British soldiers. Can you imagine how stupid the British Government is? When they left the European Union, nobody stopped them, but they want us to remain in Nigeria. They brought in British soldiers, that High Commissioner in Abuja, she is the one ruling Nigeria now, not Buhari. She is the one advising them on how to deal with Easterners and is the one giving logistics advice to the Fulani cabal. She has left her office at the British High Commission and relocated to Ask Rock. But we are ready to defeat them, both the British and the Federal Government because we are no longer comfortable in Nigeria. How can you go and bring your Fulani brothers from Mali, Sudan, Libya, Central Africa Republic, Niger, Mauritania and Senegal to come and take over Nigeria. You give them AK 47 for them to take our land. If Usman dan Fodio did that in Sokoto, Minna and Kano in 1804, you cannot do that here now. We say no, we are ready for them and we are equal to the task. We’ll fight for our land and we’ll defeat them.”
SOUTH EAST GOVERNORS
He described the actions of the South East Governors as unfortunate.
“For Hope Uzodinma, it’s the way he came to power. He was not the one who won the election but surreptiously became the governor through the help of the Fulani cabal. But he’s very simple, he’s a gentle man, better than his predecessor, Okorocha. Honestly, I tend to pity him because of the circumstances that brought him to power and his level of education, he’s handicapped somewhere. I pray that God will give him the wisdom to tackle the issue,” the lawyer said.
IT’S PLOT TO SUBDUE NDIGBO AGAINST 2O23
Speaking to THEWILL, the President General of Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, (COSEYL), Goodluck Ibem, said after a careful analysis of the attacks in Ebonyi and Enugu States that left over 30 people dead, the destruction of the police headquarters and correctional facility in Owerri and harassment of innocent people by the police in Aba, Abia State, his group could deduce that “it is a calculated evil plot to deny Ndigbo the opportunity of producing a Nigerian president in 2023.”
According to Ibem, “The evil plotters brought in mercenaries to Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Abia States to wreak havoc and blame it on IPOB or ESN. By so doing, the federal government will draft in the military and other security agencies to kill Igbo youth. The main aim is to make the South-East a disaster area.
“The whole scenario is just an evil plot to retain power in the North after President Buhari’s tenure. The attack started in Ebonyi because the plotters believe it’s better to start from the head being that Governor Dave Umahi is the chairman of South-East governors forum and is one of those championing the cause of an Igbo man to be Nigerian president in 2023.
“They saw him as a threat to their plans, so they have to kill his people, destabilize his state, create fear and panic. While the governor is busy trying to resolve the security challenges in his state he will not have time to pursue the 2023 presidential agenda.
“We call on the federal government to immediately gather credible intelligence and arrest those Fulani herdsmen that killed scores of people in Ebonyi and Enugu states. The same people have also threatened to attack Ebonyi state again and we are yet to see any seriousness to stop the planned attack. Federal government must stand-up to its responsibility of protecting lives and properties.”
According to him, the same people that sponsored the attack in Ebonyi and Enugu are the same people that sponsored the attack in Imo state.
He expressed shock that the military base in Obinze is just seven minutes drive to the police headquarters and correctional facility in Owerri and wondered how come the military and the police did not challenge them.
“They had all the time to perpetuate their evil plan without any challenge from security agents. The whole scenario shows that there are powerful forces backing the perpetrators of the crime.”
ATTACKS CARRIED OUT WITH PRECISION
Apparently working to details during the attacks carried out with precision, files containing vital details of the detainees, particularly those awaiting trial and on death roll, were destroyed by the attackers while over 38 vehicles were burnt to ashes.
HEIGHTENED CRIME RATE
THEWILL gathered that the dastardly acts have now increased the crime rate in the town. On the outskirts of the state capital, especially on Bank and Douglas Roads, daredevil criminals now ambush bank customers, snatching their money and valuables at gunpoint.
On Tuesday, a day after the jail-break, just as former IGP Adamu was inspecting the attacked state command headquarters, some criminals were busy attacking bank customers along Bank Road close to the state Government House.
One of the victims, who was robbed of N340,000 which he withdrew from a first generation bank on Bank Road, said passers-by watched him as he was being robbed of his bag.
“While the three boys were attacking me and trying to collect the bag containing my money, I was begging passersby for help but everyone was minding his business. I sustained bruises as they were tearing my clothes,” he told THEWILL on condition of anonymity.
Also, passers-by narrated their various experiences on the highways particularly along the Port Harcourt Road where criminal elements have increased their activities as the police have abandoned patrols on the road and many other highways in the state since the incident.
Ifeoma Anyanwu, a petty trader, said the criminals are not sparing hawkers. She narrated how she was dispossessed of her valuable along Port Harcourt Road without anyone coming to her rescue.
Again, within 48 hours of the attack at the facilities, three more Divisional Police stations at Ehime Mbano and Mbaitoli Council Areas of the state were attacked and more suspects set free with arms and ammunition carted away.
Also, the pervading tension in the state hit another spike within 72 hours when the news broke that a traditional ruler and his entire cabinet had been abducted by yet-to-be-identified assailants.
The traditional ruler, Eze Charles Iroegbu of Umuezie community in Nguru, Aboh Mbaise council area, and his entire cabinet were abducted while returning from a traditional wedding ceremony they attended at Ihitte-Uboma council area of the state.
The heightening insecurity and social tension in the South-East has ominous implications on the economic existence of the area. The region is Nigeria’s business and commercial hub, contributing meaningfully to the nation’s GDP. The region’s economic activities are creating robust value for the economy through trading, manufacturing, agriculture, export and hospitality. Flooded with viable micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) the South-East has remained the engine of Nigeria’s economy where skill acquisition is an age-long tradition.
Industries like Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company, breweries, pharmaceuticals, textiles, motor parts, plastics, assembly plants, paper conversion, footwear, agriculture and processing facilities among others exist in the region. Industrial hubs of Nnewi and Aba are sprouting into international business communities that will transform Nigeria into another Japan or Germany.
The consequence of allowing the conflagration of the North-East replicated in the South-East will spell doom for the nation. Every self-destruct action runs on an in-built character.