Anambra, one of the states in the eastern part of Nigeria, is slowly turning into a theatre of war, as unknown gunmen with unclear intentions kill the political class and security personnel.
The killings and arson by these unknown gunmen are on the rise since the new Governor of Anambra State, Charles Soludo of the All-Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) political party assumed office on March 17, 2022.
Reports have it that four local government headquarters in the state and several police stations have so far been attacked and set ablaze.
The latest of such killings by the gunmen, who seem to be above the law, was that of Dr Okechukwu Okoye, a lawmaker in the Anambra State House of Assembly, who was popularly called “Okey Di Okay”.
The late Okoye was from the constituency of the Governor of the state, Aguata II.
Okoye was reported to have been kidnapped on May 15, only for his dead body to be found with no head Saturday, May 21, at Nnobi in Idemili South local government area of Anambra State.
Interestingly, those who killed him left a note beside his dead body that read: ‘everywhere you go, you cannot hide anywhere. We will go after you one by one because soldiers and police is (sic) no longer our problem.”
At the time of filing this report, the perpetrators of this evil act had not been apprehended. Though, the authorities have vowed those efforts are in top gear to get the people behind the killings.
Governor Soludo placed an N10 million ($24,000) reward for anyone that will provide valuable information leading to the immediate arrest of the perpetrators of the dastardly act.
While commiserating with his kinsmen who are mourning the death of Okey Di Okay, the Governor said that he believes that the same criminal gang that attacked him and killed three policemen at Isuofia two years ago are once again on the prowl.
“I want to assure Ndi Anambra of the government’s resolve and renewed determination with the security agencies to go all out against the criminals and ensure they are brought to justice. Anambra will win against the forces of darkness”, says Gov Soludo.
Another round of killings was reported in Anambra State by the local media on Sunday. Six people were killed in various locations by unknown gunmen.
Nigerian Tribune reported that “out of the six killed, four of them were siblings with their mother. The incident happened at Isulo, Orumba North Local Government Area.
“The others took place at Abatete in Idemili North Local Government Area, while another man was killed at Nanka Orumba North Local Government Area, all in Anambra State. The gunmen invaded those areas and opened fire on the victims and left.”
There is palpable fear among the residents of the state, who are unsure of how long the gunmen will remain on the prowl, terrorizing Anambra state, when people have to also deal with the burden and paralysis caused by the sit-at-home protests.
The Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) ordered sit a home protest that takes place without fail every Monday and this has caused paralysis of socio-economic activities in Anambra and in other states in the southeast region.
Trouble in the eastern region started when Kanu declared a crusade for the actualization of the Biafran nation out of Nigeria. Though he was arrested, and his case is ongoing in a court in Abuja, many of his followers still believe strongly in his cause and have vowed to make the region ungovernable for the Nigerian government.
On the spate of killings going on in Anambra State, the IPOB has denounced and condemned the act, saying it is not part of the group’s agenda.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, IPOB’s lead counsel described the gunmen as blood-sucking demons. He said in a statement on Sunday that “our land is under siege by blood-sucking demons. It is no longer in doubt that the insecurity rocking the South-East region has taken an entirely troubling dimension and cannot be allowed to continue.
“Yesterday, I was inundated with the most unbelievable news making rounds, of the gruesome torture and subsequent beheading of one Mr. Okechukwu Okoye and his co-traveller in Anambra state by their abductors.
“I was totally shattered and in disbelief! I kept making calls until late into the night to ascertain its authenticity, and very sadly, this has been confirmed as true. May I assure you all at this point in time, that my indefatigable Client – Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu will be gravely shocked, and saddened by this dastardly act too, having previously and severally mandated me in the past to condemn such barbaric acts on his behalf,” he says.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor blames what he terms as enemies of the Igbo that have infiltrated the Southeastern part of Nigeria to operate unchecked. He also says that these criminals who are taking advantage of the Igbo people’s hospitality must be stopped.
“We, therefore, call on every well-meaning person living in the South-East, to join hands together to provide relevant information that would help to fish out these marauders, so that they are publicly dealt with in line with the dictates of the law,” he says.
He also took time to say IPOB was not a party to these crimes, adding a call to action so that the general population can support efforts to have the gunmen arrested.
“It is the collective responsibility of everyone to rise to this challenge. This is not in our culture, and certainly not our style,” he says.
He also suggested that recent communication from the kidnappers and murderers suggested imposters trying to paint IPOB and the Igbo in a bad light.
“Very compelling to mention in this piece too, for the purposes of a well-guided and holistic solution, that only a few weeks ago, a prominent Anambrarian gave a gory account of how he was kidnapped by the monsters he described as Fulani herdsmen. Ransom was paid before he was freed,” he says.
The man of law added that before the incident where a ransom was paid, there was an audio that could be a possible source of evidence for those interested in finding the gunmen.
“Just a few days back also, an audio recording of a call made to a relative of a kidnapped victim in the kidnappers’ den right inside Anambra state went viral. The disjointed English accent of the culprits spoke volumes of which divide of the country the kidnappers came from.”