Agitators have been historically opposed to elections in “Biafra land.” They have been campaigning and calling for the boycott of the Anambra governorship election billed for November 6, and as the election approaches, the state is emerging as the new epicenter of the violence. Campaign vehicles are routinely attacked and politicians targeted.
On Thursday last week, gunmen attacked Ajali Police Station in Orumba North Local Government Area of the state, killing five officers, while setting the station ablaze.
The gunmen numbering about seven and dressed in red T-Shirts and black Jean trousers, stormed the Police station in a Lexus car, and shot their way into the Police station after killing a policeman that accosted them on entry and a civilian.
They were said to have released all the people detained in the Police Station and ordered them to leave the premises of the station without further delay get killed.
Same Thursday at about 3:15 pm, gunmen attacked the convoy of Honorable Chris Azubogu, the member representing Nnewi North/Nnewi South and Ekwusigo Federal Constituency, killing one of his drivers.
Another attack in Nnobi, next door neighbour to Nnewi on Sunday, September 26, claimed the lives of Chairman of APGA in Uruagu-Nnewi Ward 1, Chukwuemeka Benjamin Nwokebuagu; a schoolteacher; and an executive member of the APC in Uruagu-Nnewi Ward 3 in Nnewi North Council, Ofomata Somadina.
“Many people have been killed,” lamented Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, senator representing Anambra South and candidate of YPP for the November governorship election. “In Nnewi, our brother, Eze B was killed. There are many others. Nobody knows why they are killing people. But we hear that they are saying they don’t want election in Anambra.”
In Anambra today, driving a decent vehicle makes one a target. Having a police or military officer in the vehicle, or being in branded campaign vehicles, is death sentence.
At the weekend, Fabian Onwughalu, a lawyer and former chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Lagos branch, narrated his deadly encounter with the gunmen he said were armed to the teeth.
According to him in a report by online medium, Cable, “As I concluded my case at high court 3 Nnewi, Anambra state today, I drove to the New Spare Parts Market to buy engine oil for my generator. Thereafter, I quickly proceeded to my country home to meet one of my errand boys, Mr. Anayo, who had been waiting at the gate since 4 pm to see me for some allowance. After the traffic light junction, I decided to increase my speed to 80 kph, but lo and behold, a black Toyota Rav 4 suddenly appeared behind, trailing me.
“When I noticed that the car though old despite the model, 2010, had no number plate, I became very curious and suspicious. My first line of thought was that they could be either armed robbers who trailed me from the Access Bank ATM where I withdrew N20,000, out of which I had used 6k and 2k to buy PMS and engine oil, respectively or some exuberant youths on an alcoholic and drug spree. Whichever was the case, I decided to speed off far away from them since I trusted my turbocharged ride called “Terrorist Kid” a new model 2018 model.
“In a twinkle of an eye I had cruised to 100kph, but the vehicle kept following up with a gap of less than 5 yards. I thought of driving into the Otolo police station but quickly remembered that they had relocated to the CPS due to the fear of the unknown gunmen.
“As I was contemplating what to do, the worst happened. As I slowed down to avoid the potholes at Orizu petrol station, their car overtook me in a Gestapo style as in a James Bond movie and blocked both my car and an oncoming Range Rover sports 2020 model.
“I then said my last prayers and asked God to have mercy on me and accept my soul in paradise. One came to me and barked, “Oga Judge, what are you doing to bring Nnamdi Kanu out?”
“I told him that I just came back from Abuja last week where I joined his defence team free of charge. He told me to continue and that God will bless me. While two of them were interrogating the driver of the Range the other two were chanting “no Biafra, no election”.
Onwughalu said the boys also threatened to blow up political meeting venues henceforth if the government does not stop “wasting the lives of innocent youths who throng their meetings.
“After about ten minutes, he retreated to the Range and ordered the driver who introduced himself as a son of Igwe Orizu, Igwe Nnewi and the owner of the petrol station, out of the car and returned his two phones to him,” he continued.
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“As this was going on another team arrived with a Honda Pilot. The second group shouted that they were the backup squad. “Meanwhile as their eyes concentrated on the vehicles, I quietly reversed into the Obindu petrol station, left my keys in the ignition and scaled the dwarf fence into the cassava farmland nearby.
“They later left with the four cars and the owner of the last car which they commandeered. Thank God they did not see any political party insignia on me and my car. Moreover, they thought I was a security agent trying to escape from them, but when they saw me in my lawyer’s apparel, they became friendly.
“I am still in shock after so many hours as my BP which shot up to 180 is yet to subside. Only the almighty God can intervene on this imbroglio.
“Today, I confirm that these boys are armed to the teeth as I saw them ‘korokoro’ wielding AK 49, machine guns, antiaircraft missiles Russian made SMG, LA rifle and pistols. One particular boy of about 30 years who seems to be the leader had the ammunition belt rolled round his body like wrapper with two pistols by his trousers side pockets.”
Anarchy appears to be be on the loose. And the state government appear helpless. On Wednesday, Anambra governor, Chief Willie Obiano in a state broadcast placed a bounty on the head of the gunmen and vowed to bring them to justice, but that doesn’t seem to have worked.
On Friday, October 1, the popular Alex Ekwueme Square that is often a beehive of activities on Independence Day was completely deserted as residents stayed indoors for fear of being attacked.
The violence has shocked many. And there are growing speculations that it may be orchestrated by those intent on destabilising the region.
“The violence is synchronised to make the East ungovernable. They want anarchy,” argued Chief Goddy Uwazurike, president emeritus of Aka Ikenga, an Igbo think tank. “They are people who kill for pleasure and play football with human heads. It’s totally condemnable.”
Many have blamed the IPOB for the violence. The group’s sympathizers, on the other hand, have accused the federal government of using the Department of State Services (DSS) to orchestrate it with the intention of blaming same on the separatist group.
The DSS, has, meanwhile, denied any involvement, especially with the killing of Dr. Akunyili, contrary to speculations in that regard. The security outfit in a statement by its spokesman, Dr Peter Afunaya, on Thursday, said it would track down those behind the murder, while advising the public be wary of the false narratives by those desirous of using the DSS to cover up their heinous acts.
But the IPOB issued its own denial. In a statement on Wednesday, its spokesman, Mr. Powerful denied any involvement of the group in the attacks on the region, arguing that Dr. Akunyili’s killings may have been politically motivated.
In another statement on Thursday, Mr. Powerful vowed to order ESN to go after the masterminds of “these dastardly acts in the region.”
He also warned residents in the region to be on the alert as “some enemies are planning to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens under the guise of enforcing the sit-at-home order.”
According to him, “They will commit these murders and hide under the name of unknown gunmen to attack more innocent and prominent people during the sit-at-home.”
Given the dimension of the violence, however, it is hard to see it as being perpetrated by individuals that are sympathetic to the quest for Biafra, but it appears that the IPOB leadership itself has lost control. While, for instance, it has cancelled sit-at-home on Mondays, hoodlums have continued to enforce the order in its name.
“I don’t think these people are IPOB members,” said Kene Nnaji, a community leader in Nkanu, Enugu State. “I think they are just criminals capitalizing on IPOB sit-at-home to perpetrate criminality.”
Nnaji, however, admits that many youth have been brainwashed into believing that Biafra will soon come, hence the level of commitment to the quest.
“People are gradually realizing that it’s not as they were told,” he said. “But it’s just that the level of propaganda they deployed is too much. If people can realize that Nigeria can’t just split up as they have been made to believe, they will wake up. But many of them have this mindset that before Buhari leaves office, Biafra will come. They keep saying that Britain, U.S. and other world powers are interested in creating Biafra. Unfortunately, they don’t know that nobody even cares.”