THE Police have confirmed the death of four members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and several others injured after an early morning clash with a combined team of the Police, Department of Security Services (DSS) and the Army in Enugu State.
Meanwhile, the State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who visited the scene of the clash in the Emene area, has sued for peace to prevail.
There were conflicting accounts of what led to the fracas. The IPOB members of the IPOB said that the police accosted them in a field where they were engaged in physical exercise and training in martial arts.
“We were not holding any meeting. We always gathered to train on Sundays. When we asked why, they started shooting,” one of the arrested members said.
The Commissioner of Police, Enugu Command, Abdurrahman Ahmad, said trouble ensued when a team of DSS operatives, on a covert mission, accosted a group of suspected IPOB members allegedly holding a meeting at a field in a secondary school, in the Emene area and attempted to arrest them.
He said the operatives were challenged and overwhelmed by the IPOB members, who also abducted two of their officials.
The development he said prompted the DSS operatives to call for help, and five members of IPOB were arrested.
According to eyewitnesses, when a team of soldiers and policemen arrived, they started shooting teargas and live bullets sporadically in the area. This led to the death of four people and left many others wounded.
The CP said he had received “a distress call this morning that IPOB members were firing sporadically and scaring people along the Enugu-Abakaliki Road, precisely in Emene community axis of the road.
“The police quickly mobilized its officers and men from Divisions, Units and Area Command, led by the Police Area Commander, Metro. They went to the scene but were faced with heavy gun firing from the IPOB members; however, the police responded appropriately.
“In the cause of the development, I also invited the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force, since we operate in unison and synergy, to ensure we restore normalcy quickly in that axis of Enugu.
“The police was able to rescue one of the DSS officials that the IPOB members had held hostage in a building alongside some other policemen.
“Meanwhile, four persons lost their lives including one person that was hacked to death with matchet, and one innocent passer-by that was set ablaze.
“Many of the IPOB members also escaped with bullet wounds in the gun duel that ensued between them and the security agencies.
“We want to ensure that everybody involved in today’s mayhem and unnecessary killings are brought to book and taking to court to face the full weight of the law’’.
He warned that IPOB was still a proscribed group and those who still identified with the group should renounce their membership.
Some of the arrested IPOB members denied engaging in a gun duel with the security agencies.
“They lied against us; we were not even armed,” one of the arrested, who identified himself as Ebube, said.
“We usually conduct martial arts training there, and that was what we were doing,” he added.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) in a statement called for a judicial panel of enquiry on the matter.
In the statement on Sunday, HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the Director of National Media Affairs, Miss Zainab Yusuf, the group stated
“This action of the killer security forces is despicable and reprehensible. The killers must not go unpunished; these killings must be investigated.”
Director of Media and Publicity, IPOB, Emma Powerful condemned the killing as another act against peaceful and unarmed IPOB members.
“IPOB is not a violent group and it is laughable for DSS to claim that they lost five personnel in the hands of unarmed people,” he stated.