Imo attacks: What unknown gunmen told us - Residents
Posted by News Express | 30 May 2021 | 4,534 times
By GEORGE ONYEJIUWA, Owerri
Last Tuesday, unknown gunmen again took Imo by storm. This time, it was on Orji Uratta axis along the popular Owerri-Okigwe Road.
The gunmen again set the Orji Police Division on fire. The station is presently being rebuilt after a similar incident earlier this year. This came to many as a surprise given the heavy presence of security agents, including heavily armed military officers in the Owerri metropolis.
On that fateful Tuesday afternoon when the gunmen arrived at the Orji Police Division still under reconstruction, it was learnt from residents who witnessed the incident that the gunmen were attired in all black apparel with strip of red pieces of cloth tied round their heads, just as they wore amulets suspected to be charms on their neck and hands.
Chukwudi John, a shop owner, who witnessed the Orji “invasion” by the gunmen said that when they arrived at about 1:00p.m that “they were dressed in all blacks and wore what looked like charms around their necks.”
His words: “At about 1:30 p.m , I was in my shop which is by Okigwe road opposite the Orji Police Division. I saw some men who were six in number with guns came down from a Hilux van.They were carrying guns. They entered into one of the filling stations where they filled up their tank and also a plastic can which they had with them. But the men were not speaking lgbo, but pigeon English.
“Then about six of the gunmen immediately walked to the Orji Police Division and asked those who were working there to leave because they did not come for them. Then they poured fuel on the place and set it on fire.
“The people didn’t harm anybody. When the police started coming, the gunmen started shooting in the direction of the police who were coming from the Owerri direction . The police could not enagage them. But when the soldiers came and started shooting the gunmen had already gone.”
Also Amaka, who operates a hair dressing salon at Amawire, told our correspondent that it was when she heard a rapid gunfire that she knew that something was happening and most of the people around the area were shouting, adding that it was then she ran to Okigwe road to know what was happening .
Hear her: “I was at my Salon when I heard three gunshots in the air and then people started shouting ‘na dem ooo.’ It was then that I ran to Okigwe road to know what was happening when I saw men in black with guns. I think they were six in number.
“I suspect those people are not Igbo because they did not speak Igbo, they only said: ‘We no come for una’ as keke and bus drivers were hailing them as they were walking along the road while the Orji Police Station was on fire.”
She further disclosed that, “the gunmen did not attack anybody, they only set the Orji Police Station on fire. It was when the police came that the gunmen had a shoot out with them and left.”
One of the residents who does not want his name mentioned also recalled that the gunmen wore black and red, but only set the Orji Police Station on fire.
He said: “Those guys were on black and red.They were even wearing charms. They entered the filling station took some fuel from the station to burn down the police station. Meanwhile they told everyone to be calm that they were not after them, but have their target. They finished their operations and left.
“But it was the police and soldiers who started shooting indiscriminately immediately they arrived at the place. Even those that were arrested by the security agents were people around the area as none of the gunmen were arrested because they had already left the area.
“I suspect that they are not from Imo State because they did not say much in pigeon English because they said, ‘we get our target , we no come for una, make una relax’.”
Similarly, Bright Agu who operates a beer parlour around the area said that it was when people were shouting ‘na dem, na dem’ that he saw a thick smoke coming from the Orji Police Station .
He stated that as a result he quickly locked up his shop and tried to know what it was all about, when he saw about six men in black holding long rifles, walking along the Okigwe road as they were hailed, espcially by the Keke and bus drivers, who he said had gathered along the road.
His words: “Around 1:30 p.m on Tuesday, I heard people shouting ‘na dem oo, na dem oo’ and then I saw thick smoke coming from the Orji Police Station , I immediately locked up my shop because I don’t want to fall a victim. As I walked down to the Amawire Bus stop, I saw about six young men dressed in black with a piece of red cloth tied round their heads and coweries round their necks and on their hands. As they were moving along the road they said in broken English, ‘make una calm down, no bi una we come for, we get our target”. To me, I know that they are not from Imo, but may be Igbo people.
“But immediately the police arrived, they engaged the police in shooting and the policemen were moving back as the gunmen were coming towards them before the military men joined in the shooting.
“Surprisingly, the gunmen disappeared and left one of their Hilux vehicles. It was then that both the police and the military started arresting young men within that area for supporting the gunmen by clapping and praising them”.
Agu said that if he had not closed down his shop that the police may have also arrested him as they arrested the owner of the next shop close to him and the barber who was still at his shop.
He also said that the gunmen he saw are most likely not from Imo State. (Sunday Sun)