. . . IPOB, Police in Blame Game over Casualties
By Ikeugonna Eleke
Oraifite Community in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State, was a theatre of war last Monday, with men of the Anambra State Police Command and men of the Indigenous people of Biafra, IPOB, challenging each other in a violent clash, reports Ikeugonna Eleke.
Fides gathered that the clash started when police men led by ACP, Oliver Abbey, stormed the home of Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor, personal counsel to Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB, over complaints of abduction and assault against him.
The visit resulted in the death of about six persons, leaving the police and IPOB trading blames over the number of deaths involved, and who were responsible.
While police said two of its top officers were killed in the clash, IPOB denied killing any police man, insisting that it was the police that killed four of its members.
A release by the Police Public Relations Officer, SP Haruna Mohammed, stated thus, ‘On the 2/12/2019, at about 11:30 am, there was a formal complaint against one Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor (a member of the proscribed IPOB) in Oraifite, on alleged case of abduction, assault occasioning harm and malicious damage to property.
‘Following the report, police patrol teams led by the Area Commander, Oraifite, ACP Oliver Abbey, mobilized and rushed to the scene in order to arrest the suspect who declined Police invitation.
‘However, as soon as the police arrived at the house, armed men suspected to be IPOB members descended on the police, set ablaze one patrol vehicle, and attacked them with rifles and machetes.
‘As a result of the attack, two police officers whose identities are being withheld, were killed by the suspected IPOB members, while others were inflicted with machete cuts. The injured personnel were rushed to the hospital for medical attention and are presently receiving treatment.’
He said that consequently, the Command deployed reinforcements from the State Headquarters, comprising PMF, SARS and Special Anti-Cult Units, in conjunction with the Army/other sister agencies, who cordoned off the area in order to fish out the culprits, while a joint patrol was still ongoing in the town to prevent further breakdown of law and order.
He said some arrests had been made and the Commissioner of Police, John Abang, was on his way to the scene and had vowed to bring the perpetrators of the act to justice.
Meanwhile, Mr Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB, had earlier raised an alarm, saying that the home of his lawyer was invaded, and four of his members killed by policemen.
Kanu insisted that the plan of the police was to kill his counsel to stop him from further defending him in a case he had with the federal government. He stated that it was the same style the Army used against him by invading his home in September 2017 to kill him and stop him from appearing in court.
In a release signed by Emma Powerful, media and publicity secretary of IPOB, the group said, ‘The unprovoked Nigeria Police and Army invasion of the home of our lawyer, Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor, is proof that those running Nigeria have descended into the abyss of iniquity.
‘Not even during the darkest days of Abacha’s dictatorship did anyone witness such brazen intimidation of a legal counsel or the attempted assassination of a defence counsel in a high profile case.
‘For the police to say there was a criminal complaint against Barrister Ejiofor, bordering on assault and kidnapping, is most stupid and laughable. Criminal complaint from who? Who did he kidnap?’ The group queried.
The release further stated that the only reason for ‘this unprovoked criminal invasion with deadly intent is to kill Barrister Ejiofor and to stop him from attending the Federal High Court, Abuja, next month where he has all but defeated the Attorney General in the matter of Federal Government of Nigeria versus IPOB.’
The release alleged that the same strategy of invade and kill doctrine that the Federal Government deployed in Isiama-Afaraukwu, the home of their leader, Kanu, on 14 September, 2017, a month before he was due in court, was what played out in Oraifite yesterday.
‘The truth remains that the Nigeria Police and Army went to the home of Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor with the sole purpose to kill him before next month’s court date as is now their tradition.
‘On getting there they opened fire on unarmed civilians as usual and the two men that came out of the house were shot dead instantly. The police carried their dead and dying bodies into their van to conceal evidence and drove off. These are facts backed by evidence the Anambra Police cannot deny,’ the release further claimed.
Maintaining that IPOB remained a peaceful movement, the release described the latest incident as a desperate attempt by the Nigeria Police to equate their activities with their home-grown Miyetti Allah (Fulani herdsmen) terrorist organization, pointing out that it was a waste of time.
Fides gathered that the killing of the two police officers had irked other members of the force who quickly mobilized, stormed Ejiofor’s home, and reportedly set it ablaze and arrested several people deemed to be members of IPOB.
A source in Oraifite said that days after the incident, there was still apprehension among the indigenes of Oraifite, with most youths fleeing the area for fear of arrest.
Meanwhile, Police in Anambra have declared Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor wanted. The Anambra State Police Commissioner, John Abang, who made the declaration in Awka on Tuesday, said it was in connection with the killing of two police men by members of the IPOB in Oraifite on Monday.
Abang implored law abiding Nigerians who had information about the man to report to the nearest police station.
‘He is a member of the proscribed IPOB, and he is wanted in connection with the killing of two police men. We implore anyone who has information on him to report to us,’ Abang said.