Security operatives have become an endangered species in the South-East geo-political zone of Nigeria as they are easily attacked, maimed and killed by suspected separationists and cultists.
Many northerners in the South-East are also living in fear after many of them have been killed and their property worth millions of naira destroyed.
Security experts including those who keep track of attacks said in the five states in the zone – Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu and Imo, more than 40 attacks have been launched in 2021 alone in the emerging trend of onslaught on security personnel and wanton destruction of security facilities and operational assets.
If neighbouring states in the South South, especially Delta, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Cross River, are added, the number of attacks is more than 60, leaving not less than 50 security personnel killed.
This spate of attacks has compounded the insecurity in the Christian-dominated states and portends a grievous security challenge to the country, experts have warned.
Investigations have revealed that some of the attacks were carried out by members of ESN, the paramilitary wing of IPOB, an outlawed group led by Nnamdi Kanu. IPOB claims to be championing a secessionist agenda, calling for the declaration of a Biafra republic.
Last Monday’s attacks at the Nigerian Correctional Service and Imo Police Headquarters, which led to the release of a total of 1,844 inmates from prison custody and yet-to-be-ascertained number of suspects from the offices of the Criminal Investigation Department, were attributed to ESN even though they denied responsibility.
The police said the attackers came in their numbers with weapons such as General-Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs), Sub-Machine Guns (SMGs), AK49 rifles, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) among others.
A critical analysis of the frequent broadcasts by the bail-jumping leader of the banned IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, via his social media platforms including the Radio Biafra, indicated that he uses terms in Christianity – the dominant religion in the region, to pass his message.
He described his message as the propagation of the gospel of redemption, with regular reference to the Israelites in the Bible. He also described Biafrans as ‘direct descendants of the Most High God’.
In his one hour, 24 minutes long broadcast of March 30, posted on his Twitter handle, @MaziNnamdiKanu, he likened Arochukwu to the House of Levi in Israel.
“Arochukwu fell in 1904, our spiritual capital. All those claiming they are Ijaws are from Arochukwu. The same way you have the House of Levi in Israel, you have the House of Arochukwu. They are a priestly clan dedicated to the service and worship of God. It was our temple but Britain destroyed it in 1904,” he said.
In the broadcast which was aired a day after the police paraded 16 suspects for complicity in a series of violent attacks on security formations in the South East, Kanu claimed that the security agency arrested and parading ‘innocent people’ while and that they won’t go scot free.
The police had paraded 16 suspects, including Ugochukwu Samuel, aka Biggy, a 28-year-old native of Arochukwu in Abia State, who claimed to be the second in command of the special force of the group; Cletus Nwachukwu Egole, aka Alewa, a pastor with the Holy Blessed Trinity Sabbath Church, Orlu, Imo State; and Michael Uba, a prophet with the Association of Jewish Faith.
“ESN is in the forest, we are not in the street yet. You arrest pastors, torture them and give them confessional statements to read,” Kanu said.
“If you kill, you will be killed. Every police station where you mount your raid, it is just a matter of time, you can’t escape justice.
“Keep doing what you are doing. You are only building up hatred and anger for the police and the army, the same thing you did with Boko Haram. Boko Haram was a peaceful movement. It was Nigerian police that kept on killing them before they turned violent. The army and police in our land, you will die there. The more you kill us, the angrier and more fanatical we become,” he said.
He urged the natives to resist security operatives from arresting ‘innocent people’, adding that, “without IPOB, you are all gone. IPOB is the last line of defence between the people and their oppressors. We must all fight to leave this unholy union”.
In another broadcast which lasted for one hour, forty-five minutes, on April 4, Kanu who made a reference to the civil war, said members of the group are willing to die for the cause.
Kanu further called on the people and other nationalities to fight, hinting that Nigeria does not have enough security personnel.
This was a day before unknown gunmen attacked the federal prison and police command headquarters in Owerri, Imo State.
Even though some IPOB leaders had distanced themselves from Kanu’s claim of responsibility for the attacks in Imo, the Biafra warlord appears undeterred in giving directives for ESN members to kill.
Former Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, blamed IPOB for the attack.
In a question-and-answer session that lasted for over two hours on April 2, Kanu opined that the group is not interested in any election being held in the region, reiterating that the group is focused on actualising Biafra republic. He, however, said there are people who argued that the group should participate in the election.