14th July 2024
Eastern News News

Biafra Day: Gunmen Attack Soldiers On Duty Post,Killing Two, South-East Gov’s Condemn Attack

There was tension in Aba, Abia State, on Thursday, following the killing of two soldiers by yet-to-be-identified gunmen at a military checkpoint at the Obikabia Junction in the Obingwa Local Councils of the state.

Though the Indigenous People of Biafra was yet to claim the attack, the development came following the warning to the people of the South-East to stay indoors on May 30, to mark Biafra Day.

Business activities were paralysed across states in the South-East, as the IPOB enforced sit-at-home to mark what it called Biafra Day.

The group, in a statement by its spokesman, Emma Powerful, announced that it would mark the day in honour and memory of those killed in the course of Biafra.

It also warned residents to stay at home and honour the hero and heroines who it said fought for the emancipation of the people of Biafra.

In another statement, it warned the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, to shift its convocation earlier slated for May 30 and the West African Examination Council against fixing the examination on the said date.

The News Agency of Nigeria gathered that the gunmen, after the attack on the soldiers, also burnt down security patrol vehicles and grounded activities in most towns of the South-East states.

A source said, “It appears as if the gunmen had someone monitoring the soldiers and giving information to their colleagues. The soldiers were sitting down at the outpost when the gunmen drove past, slowed down, alighted from the cars and started shooting at them.

“After executing their evil act, they set the outpost and patrol van ablaze and, in the process, a 25-year-old young man was hit by stray bullets and was rushed for medical attention immediately the gunmen left the scene.”

After the incident, police helicopter and military aircraft were sighted hovering around the city centre, while a security agent who spoke on condition of anonymity said the gunmen could not be linked to the IPOB group.

“You can’t rule out IPOB members, but some other groups, armed robbers, kidnapping gangs looking for arms and weapons can take advantage of the sit-at-home to carry out such acts.

“The cars they came with could have been stolen from their owners. It could be that they are cars of kidnapped victims. They chose a spot and launched the attack.

“Obingwa is not known as IPOB members’ enclave. There are crimes associated with Obingwa and that Ogbor Hill area and, like I said, only a well-investigated report can reveal the identity of the attackers,” the military source said.

The South East Governors’ Forum, on Thursday, however, condemned the attack which left two soldiers dead.

Addressing newsmen in Owerri, on Thursday, the Chairman of the forum and Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, described the attack as “unfortunate”.

He said, “On behalf of my brother governors in the South East Governors’ Forum, I condemn the incident and loss of the lives of soldiers who were on their duty posts. Without any provocation, they were attacked by the men of the underworld.

“The unfortunate thing is that it is going to act as a major setback to the peace process being pursued by the governors from the zone with the Federal Government, security agencies and other critical stakeholders on how best to resolve the problem of security in the region,” he said.

According to him, the incident would also portray our people in a bad light, as if we do not have sympathy for human beings.

The governor condoled with the Chief of Army Staff and the families of soldiers who lost their lives in the unfortunate incident.

“We here in the South-East will ensure that we leave no stone unturned to ensure peace needed for development in the region,” he added.

Uzodimma urged security agencies to go all out to ensure that those behind the dastardly act were caught and prosecuted.

He noted that people of the South East, out of fear of the unknown and memories of the past, obeyed the directive of the proscribed group.

The governor, however, urged them, particularly the people of Imo State, to find courage and understand that a lot had gone to providing security for them.

“We have peace in Imo State; I want people to go about their businesses without fear of being molested by anyone.

“We are after the perpetrators. Those who think we shouldn’t live should not live,” he said.

The Coalition of South East Youth Leaders also condemned the attack on the military, describing it as “barbaric, wicked and condemnable in its entirety.”

According to the President-General of the group, Comrade Goodluck Ibem, “The attack is the handiwork of criminal elements hiding under the cover of Biafra’s struggle to perpetrate crime and destabilise Governor Alex Otti’s government, but their plans are dead on arrival.”

The group called on Otti “to remain resolute and steadfast in his determination to make Abia better while working hard to bring to book, those enemies of Abia who are hell-bent on destroying the peace they are currently enjoying.”

WAEC Mathematics exam holds in schools

The threat that the WAEC examination should be rescheduled did not hold as candidates were able to write their examinations in many centres across the South-East states on Thursday.

The students, on Thursday, wrote a major subject, Mathematics.

In Abia, candidates were sitting the exam as of the time of this report and there was no incident.

Also, there were no hitches in Awka, Anambra State, as the students left homes early, while some others relocated to places near their examination centres so as not to be stranded.

Although students in other classes did not go to school, some of those writing WASSCE disguised themselves in mufti to beat IPOB sit-at-home enforcers.

However, most of the schools visited on Thursday, both in rural communities and in the cities, were without the presence of security personnel.

Our correspondent visited various examination centres such as Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka, St. John’s School, Amemyi Awka, Manus Secondary School, Onitsha, Ubianayo Secondary School, Fegge, among others, and observed that the sit-at-home caused a slight delay in the commencement of the examination papers.

Students were seen arriving at the school compounds as early as 7.45 am, through a small narrow gate opened for them, but the examination officials did not arrive as scheduled due to transportation hiccups.

The paper that was supposed to be held at 9 am started at about 10 am, while in some of the schools, the examination started at 11 am.

A gateman at one of the schools in Awka, who pleaded anonymity, said students who came from far places where the sit-at-home order was prevalent disguised as if they were going to fetch water by carrying buckets.

He said, “They are afraid, some of them are coming from far places and that is why you see them wearing mufti so when they come inside the school, they will change into the school uniforms.”

A parent who brought her son on a motorcycle to one of the schools, Ngozi Madi, lamented that the development would affect the students’ performance in the subject.

She said, “These children are already agitated, some of them may even miss this subject because of fear and those who eventually made it to the hall will be psychologically down and it will surely affect the results.

“It is terrible and I fear that it is Mathematics that they are writing today. Of all the subjects, it is today that these children are sitting for Mathematics that this rubbish is coming up.

“Mathematics is not a subject you can toy with, it requires total concentration and calmness, but see as these children have been jolted and see the fears in their eyes. It will surely lead to mass failure in mathematics across the region.”

In Enugu, only students writing WAEC were seen in schools with supervisors and invigilators.

The General Mathematics papers were successfully held across Enugu State.

Visits to several examination centres and checks across the state showed that the examination was held peacefully.

Several students who spoke to journalists were quoted to have frowned on the earlier attempt to scuttle the examination.

At Girls Secondary School, Trans Ekulu, Enugu, the principal, Mrs Ada Onunze, said the examination was held peacefully.

“Regardless of the instruction to sit at home, we were actually encouraged by the government pronouncement that we shouldn’t fear anybody; that we should just come out; and that there would be no problem anywhere.

“On our part, we listened to the government. Every student registered for this examination was present. There are 203 students in all. No single challenge occurred. We also had a group of security operatives from the Enugu East Local Government.”

At Akpugo High School, Akpugo, in Nkanu West LGA, the principal, Mrs Matha Ifeyinwa, said there was no breach of peace.

The WAEC Supervisor for Government Technical College, Enugu, Felix Nwatuke, also said that the examination was hitch-free.

“The examination is okay. I came in the morning and brought the essay. We don’t have any security challenges. No one came, and nobody disrupted us. The students came on time and the examination went well,” he stated.

A student of Divine Love Comprehensive College, who simply identified himself as Chidubem, said, “So far, so good. Earlier yesterday, there was an announcement that there would be a sit-at-home today and the governor said ‘no’ and assured that there would be adequate security. I thank the governor of Enugu State, Peter Mbah. He has been doing well. In terms of security, it is very tight.” The principal of Model Comprehensive Secondary School, Agbani in Nkanu West LGA, where the students were almost done with their second paper at the time newsmen arrived, affirmed the examination at the centre went well.

Sit-at-home paralyses activities

Banks, offices, and markets were shut on Thursday in adherence to the sit-at-home order of the IPOB.

The order was largely obeyed in Aba and Umuahia in Abia State, as streets were deserted.

In Anambra State, commercial and economic activities were paralysed as well, as banks, schools, markets, motor parks, hospitals, airports, shopping plazas, petrol stations and other public places were shut.

There was no flight into and outside the state, as offices, both public and private, remained shut leaving residents indoors.

Interstate commercial vehicles coming into Anambra from Delta State were seen parked on the Asaba/Benin/Onitsha Expressway, before the old Niger Bridge, as they waited for 6 pm before passing through Onitsha.

Our correspondent who went around major cities in the state observed that several roads in Onitsha, Nnewi, Oba, Obosi, Awada, Ekwulobia, Umunze and some parts of Awka were empty. Both the old Niger Bridge and the Second Niger Bridge were like a ghost arena.

Security men deserted the checkpoints at places like Enamel, People’s Club, Idemili by-pass, along the Onitsha-Owerri Road, Savoil and the Army Gate along the Awka-Onitsha Road.

There were, however, scanty movements in Awka and environs, as heavy security presence was seen around public places and motor parks in the area.

A resident at Nnewi, Antonia Maduhukwa, said, “I am a food vendor but I didn’t cook because I predicted the total lockdown in Nnewi and other places in Anambra State. It is good to show solidarity with our fallen heroes. Those that died for us should be honoured.”

Some youths were seen turning the road and other open spaces into football pitches.

There was patrol by security operatives that included the police, vigilante group, and military, among others, to and from Onitsha.

The state police spokesman, Tochukwu Ikenga, said the command assured residents to go about their normal business without any fear of molestation,n as security operatives had been deployed in strategic places, but the people remained indoors.

In Enugu State, schools and businesses were shut down as residents observed the sit-at-home order.

Although, there was a report of an attack in Nkwo Ibagwa Narket in the Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area of the state, on Wednesday, the state, however, did not witness any violence or skirmishes on Thursday as a result of the sit-at-home.

The state government, in a circular by the Head of Service, Mr Ken Ugwu, issued on Wednesday, warned that civil servants and political appointees in the state who failed to report to work would be severely sanctioned.

Titled: “Clarification on Attendance to Duty on Thursday 30th May 2024,” Ugwu said “It has become expedient to clarify that the state government has not declared Thursday, 30th May 2024, as a public holiday or sit-at-home day, contrary to misconceptions from some quarters.

“May I, therefore, remind our workers that failure to be in their duty posts on the above date will attract summary dismissal from service, in line with the enabling provisions of the Public Service Rules.”

The government, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr Eze Aka, on Wednesday, urged the residents to ignore the sit-at-home and come out for their businesses, assuring them of adequate protection.

But despite the assurances, the residents complied with the sit-at-home order, including the government officials.

The PUNCH observed that some workers who came out to go to work could not even find vehicles to transport them to work and had to return to their houses after waiting for several hours.

S’East govs should declare May 30 holiday – Kanu’s lawyer

Sir Ifeanyi Ejiofor, the lead counsel for the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, has asked the governors in the South-East to declare May 30 as a public holiday.

Ejiofor said the day was set aside as a special day to remember and reflect on the death of over five million Biafrans who were massacred in the genocide during the three-year Biafra-Nigeria war, which lasted from July 6, 1967, to January 15, 1970.

In a press statement he issued on Thursday, he said the day should be set aside not only to remember the cause for which the heroes and heroines were brutally killed but also to reflect on how their deaths had impacted the lives of Biafrans, the lessons learnt, and the resolutions made since then.

“Further, we must remember the massacre of over 6,000 men, mainly residents of Asaba, who were gruesomely killed at Obosowe Asaba in present-day Delta State between October 4 and 7, 1967. Nigeria is under a moral obligation to acknowledge this tragedy, as it was not the making of Asaba.

“It is important to note that no matter how long history is hidden, it will always reveal itself on true platforms. Unfortunately, the story of post-war reconstruction, reintegration, and reconciliation has remained a ruse. These three Rs must go hand in hand for a full healing process, but the reverse has been the case.

“I use this moment of sober reflection to call on all South-East governors to dedicate May 30 as a public holiday, as a mark of respect and honour for Biafran fallen heroes. It is not asking too much to remember and commemorate Biafran heroes and heroines by declaring this date a public holiday across Biafraland,” he said.

The counsel said before 2019, the South-West states set aside June 12 as a public holiday to commemorate the anniversary of the annulled 1993 presidential election, adjudged to have been won by the late MKO Abiola.

“Heaven did not fall when the South-West governors made this declaration in unison. Rather, the Federal Government was later compelled by the strong resolve of these leaders to consequently declare June 12 a national public holiday starting from 2019 to date,” he said.

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