killings In Igboland: Are The “Unknown Gunmen” Truly Unknown?

killings In Igboland

The first job of any serious Government in any clime or society is the provision of adequate security for all her people, the protection of lives and properties of her citizenry. Any Government that fails in this, has failed in every facet and entirety. 

If the Igboland can pride in anything, it’s for her peace, her serenity and for her welcoming environment. Igboland has always been very peaceful and hasn’t ever been a home of terror. If anything, ndi-Igbo place huge premium on the sanctity of human lives. It’s a taboo to waste precious human lives in Igboland or anywhere else.

Igbos characteristically are hardworking people. Ndigbo, both at home and in diaspora are workaholics. Igbos are the most peripatetic set of people globally. Igbos who are predominantly entrepreneurs are wealth creators and business-inclined. This is why a Harvard Professor and his visiting team used the Alaba market located at the heart of Yorubaland, the business hub of Lagos as the greatest incubator for cyclic wealth creation in the world.

The Onitsha main market is West Africa’s biggest and busiest market. It’s the second largest and busiest in the entire continent of Africa, second to only that of Cairo, Egypt. Nnewi market is the mechanical and machine hub of Nigeria, while Ariaria market, Aba is the textile and leather domain of the nation. Igbos are usually too busy to involve themselves in crime.

While at doing business, ndi-Igbo has remained remarkable in virtually all their undertakings. It’s still a wonder that it was an oil trader, West Africa’s multimillionaire, Sir. Louis Ojukwu who borrowed his Rolls Royce out to the Nigerian Government to help in conveying the British Monarch, Queen Elizabeth during her official visit to Nigeria. 

Prof. Kenneth Dike of the Univeristy of Ibadan, Chike Obi of Mathematics and the legendary literary icon, Chinua Achebe plus the youngest of the pack, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are only but a few academically distinguished individuals from Igboland who in life and death, have created lasting impacts and are making incredible waves in the academic globally.

The world has read about and known Zik of Africa, the first Nigerian President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, a distinguished technocrat of international acclaim who was also the former Secretary General of the British Commonwealth, Chief. Emeka Anyaoku. The celebrated physician of high repute, Dr. Benneth Omalu who first discovered and published findings on chronic traumatic encephalopathy. 

What of the Prince of the church as he is fondly called in the Vatican City, Rome, Francis Cardinal Arinze who almost emerged the leader, as Pope of the over 1.3billion Catholic faithfuls globally. Today, the first saintly Nigerian pastor and patron of the Nigerian Catholic Priests, Blessed Micheal Cyprian Iwene Tansi is on the verge of attaining sainthood. Recently too, Rome has began the path for the beatification of the slain seminarian, Micheal Nnadi who was assasinated by Boko Haram herders in Kaduna forest. These are rare gifts to humanity and the church. 

Igboland hasn’t felt the worst in governance. In Anambra for instance, the duo of former Governors: Chris Ngige and Peter Obi performed sterlingly well as Governors. Sullivan Chime did a lot of great jobs too in Enugu. The incumbent Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi is currently doing wonders as Governor.

The duo of Micheal Okpara and Sam Mbakwe to this day are heroes in our hearts and minds. Many of these politicians, particularly Obi have remained models in politics and leadership generally. 

The late Biafran warlord and Oxford trained Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ikemba Gburugburu who led the secessionist Biafra remains a god amongst the Igbos. Ndi Igbo cannot continue to pride in all these, and suddenly, there’s a swift turnaround of things, shockingly to entirely opposite of who Ndi Igbo are. 

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In what has become extremely disturbing, there has been a well coordinated and seemingly criminally minded offensive attack, pointedly aimed at the various Nigerian security forces. The criminals have been pervasive, brutal and unrepentant. Sadly, they’ve continued to be known from all quarters as “Unknown”.

It’s rather sickening to see the trauma, the anguish and psychological disturbances those criminal activities has brought upon the land. In what has become extremely shocking, the once peaceful, quite and welcoming South eastern Nigeria, our own home and pride, the Igboland has suddenly continued to make headlines, one for bad news. We are been featured, at the epicenter of those criminal offensives. 

In the last two months, there has been very deadly attacks at police and military checkpoints, where police officers on duty, and navy officers at a naval outpost were all gruesomely murdered by an obviously trigger-happy set of criminals. It’s not only disturbing, but also barbaric to say the least. 

There has been scores of such gruesome murder in some parts of Imo State, in Abia State, in Akwa Ibom state, in Rivers State and what has become of Anambra, the once proclaimed safest state in the federation is a big blow and one beneath the belt. Sadly, even with a combatant hitback by men of the Nigerian police force, the army, navy and civil defense, there seems to be a continuum in the sad attacks.

In Anambra alone, there has been attacks at Uga, Ndiowu, Nkpologwu, Nkpor, Awkuzu, Onitsha and as for that of Neni, it happened right before my very presence. I saw a near-death scenario. I saw gun battle, more like we see it in foreign movies, sadly, it was too real to be a make-up or any blockbuster movie. 

At the okacha junction at Neni, in the company of a few friends of mine while returning from a funeral we attended at Oraukwu, approaching the checkpoint, we saw what wasn’t very regular, over a dozen armed men, carrying AK 47 riffles. Their presence built up traffic. This wasn’t usual for that spot. We were considering to pull out and approach them and pass. Something else, maybe God’s divinity held us back. 

We watched from a distance and wondered what might be wrong. It began like they were merely having a debate with the policemen stationed at that checkpoint, however, it seemed like a heated one; in merely seconds, there was a gun shot, another followed and before one could know it, the firepower continued. It was like a deadly combination of Somalia, Syria, South Sudan, Iraq and Iran happening all at once.

In a matter of sixty seconds, they had gunned down all the policemen that were manning that checkpoint. One ran speedily while carrying his rifle to escape, they gave him a hot chase while shooting at him persistently. He managed to carry the gun wounds and continued to run. The attackers persisted, continued to shoot at him until he ran into the bush. They killed him there. They roundly collected all their AK 47 riffles and left with them. It pointedly explained their target, to kill and collect all arms and ammunitions of officers. 

Also, they shot right into the police van, where an officer was seated in it, killing him. They ended up lighting up the police van with the officer in it too. Those ruthless guys weren’t in a haste to leave, they took their time and waited for the police hilux van to burn halfway before they turned their two Toyota Sienna vehicles and left the sad and gory site they had left behind. 

At Isuofia, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, at a town hall meeting with Isuofia youth, hosted by a former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and an Anambra Governorship aspirant under APGA, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, in the presence of a House of Assembly member, a Commissioner in the state and other dignitaries, these faceless criminals invaded again. In a gun battle, three policemen were gunned down. It was another sorry-sight to behold.

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In that very attack, after the gruesome murder of those policemen, a serving Commissioner, that of Public Utilities, Emeka Ezenwanne was taken away by those hoodlums. It’s shocking and really disturbing that up till now, no one knows for sure, or has heard about his whereabouts. 

There has been allegations and counter allegations of where or from where the invaders are or came from. Many tried to beat up the polity with allegations that it may be a mastermind of rivalries in the political landscape. However, it just doesn’t add up. It doesn’t seem so, especially where the act looks exactly like those that come from the “unknown gunmen”. 

It’s really heartbreaking that while we are struggling to manage the excesses of those ruthless anarchist in Anambra, we are also faced with what has become a very disturbing gun dual amongst rival cult groups. Sadly, it’s no more a thing of undergraduates. Tricycle (keke napep) riders are the new capons, and they run that arm of crime community wholly. 

How does one explain that at Okija, cult boys attacked a member of a rival cult group, beat him up to pump and used matchet to slice off his throat and cut off the head right before his mother’s presence, whilst holding his phone camera on the other hand recording the barbaric act. He even sent it to his cult WhatsApp group on social media in order to take glory. In Awka, Anambra’s capital, cult boys are having a free for all, maiming and killing themselves. At the last count, over six persons has been gunned-down in such attacks.

The Anambra State Governor, Chief. Willie Obiano’s greatest achievement in the last seven years has remained security. This Governor and his administration had put-in so much towards the security that Anambrarians enjoy today; sadly, what has happened in the last two months now points doubts, distrusts and raises serious concerns on what to, and what not to believe again. 

The helpless, worrisome and terrific sad times of the past are here again with us. We may continue to feign ignorant, or deceive ourselves, or wallow in our vainglorious disapproval. Truth be told – all is not well in Igboland. 

As ndi Igbo, we are not trigger happy people. As a people, we aren’t blood thirsty individuals. We aren’t monsters. We aren’t killers. We aren’t criminals. We aren’t murderers. 

There’s something very remarkable and quite beautiful about ndi Igbo; even where the Government fails, as a people, we rise to the responsibility, jettison the carelessness of our bad political office holders and forge ahead, taking the bull with both hands, by the tail and by the horn, doing our thing and fixing our environment. 

Where Government fails to tar roads, ndi Igbo step in and do it like late Sir. Anthony Enukeme of Tonimas has done for his people. Where Government fail to build schools, individuals like Dr. Godwin Maduka steps in and does it. Where Government fails to provide security, ndi Igbo in communal style set up local vigilantes. Where there’re no portable water by the Government, almost all streets, roads, kindred or “umunna(s)” in Igboland have boreholes. 

Do you know that individuals build instititions as big as churches and schools singlehandedly in Igboland. We have heard of such names like: Prince. Arthur Eze and Sir. Emeka Offor. I would use my very good man and friend, Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah as a pointer. He constructed all rounds around his community, lighted it up with street lights and even painted all houses leading to his home. He has assisted in building of many schools, homes and places of worship. 

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In what has become an incredible feat and to the glory of God, same Ifeanyi Ubah is on the verge of becoming the second human on earth to have singlehandedly built a Catholic Cathedral in the world, just after former President Houpoet Boigny of Ivory Coast who’s now late. 

At the wake of the war, even with the unpreparedness, ndi Igbo were able to construct a firepower that became terror to combatants from the Nigerian side, the “Biafran ogbunigwe”. During that quite avoidable war, starvation was used as a tool against ndi Igbo and kwashiorkor did a terrible blow on the Igbos. At the end of the war, no matter how wealthy they were as ndi Igbo, they were gifted only Twenty Biafran pounds. In a matter of few years, they rose again and conquered. This is the indomitable spirit of ndi Igbo, “the never say never”.

The years of the dangerous Delico, Deli Nwa amama and the notorious Chiejina are back with us. It’s a really tough time for ndi Igbo. What one never anticipated has been born, a very ruthless, anarchist, dangerous and well armed army of trigger happy young men and women, with a seemingly operational base in the not-so-expanse bushes of Igboland and a commandeering order from abroad is here. 

We are in hard times. The men of the underworld who rain those gun battles are our kits and kins. They didn’t fall from the sky or blues. They’re within here, living amongst us. We must rise from our comfort zones, confront our fears and stampede against our common enemies. It’s possible they may look like what they are called, faceless hypocrites. As they choose to be addresed, they’re to this day, “unknown gunmen”. 

It’s true that there has been Fulani herders invasion into Igboland. They’ve like in the rest of the nation maimed, tortured, raped, destroyed and killed many of people. This is a very sad tale to be. Unfortunately, the Nigerian Government has so ignorantly failed in her responsibility of handling the herders menace. In a standpoint to scuttle against the Fulani herders, the Yorubas formed Amotekun with a Sunday Igboho, whilst there is an Eastern Security Network with Nnamdi Kanu.

The killings happening in Igboland, majorly against security operatives is condemnable. This cannot continue. We can only place ourselves in harms way and who knows, it can get to a time where and when we may become unable to handling things very well or even those who give such orders of destruction from their sane abodes abroad, may be overpowered by the disastrous daredevil monsters they’re creating now.

What is happening in Igboland is a perfect pointer to how radicalism, extremism and terrorism begins. They target security operatives, building an armory or gun bank. Even those they kill, aren’t they possibly Igbo too; majority of them are. When they run out of security forces to intimidate or kill, we all become their prey. This is exactly how monsters are birthed out of humans.

I dare ask again, “are the so called unknown gunmen truly unknown; or are we merely deceiving ourselves” or simply standing down and off from the obvious for the fear of the unknown. Whatsoever is your answer, know thee, that this is how terror is usually birthed. Take this from me, we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder.

Igboland’s security is important. All hands must be on deck to return the Igbo nation to her times of peace and glory. We are not murders. We respect and uphold the sanctity of precious human lives. Let normalcy return to Igboland. 

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