Razed vehicles at the Imo State Police Command Headquarters in the aftermath of Monday attack by gunmen
Many angry Nigerians have taken to social media to lament the persistent attacks by gunmen in Imo State, with many expressing fears that the South-East state was fast turning to another Borno State.
Borno State, with Maiduguri as capital city, is located in Nigeria’s North-East. The state rose to inglorious fame when Mohammed Yusuf, founder of militant Islamist group Boko Haram, was killed in 2009. Yusuf’s death birthed a macabre era of unprecedented uprising; carnage, bombings, kidnappings, amongst other crimes against humanity, even till date.
Millions of aboriginal Borno residents have also been displaced by the activities of the insurgents as military forces battle to clear the terrorists out of the entire North-East.
Unlike Borno in faraway North-East, Imo State located in the South-East geopolitical zone of the country has enjoyed relative peace until lately when daring gunmen started wreaking havoc in the state.
The gunmen particularly target police formations in their attacks. For instance, in what could be described as unmatched, gunmen on Monday attacked the Owerri Correctional Prison and freed over 1800 inmates. The attackers also razed the Imo State Police Command headquarters situated in Owerri and burnt all the vehicles parked at the command headquarters.
The hoodlums further freed the suspects in the cells at the State Criminal Investigation Department of the command and made an attempt to loot the police armoury in the state.
The PUNCH gathered that the gunmen operated from 1am till 3am on Monday and sang solidarity songs at the Government House Roundabout for about 30 minutes before attacking the facilities.
The police have since accused members of the Eastern Security Network, the security arm of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, of been the masterminds of the attacks but the secessionist agitators led by Nnamdi Kanu have since denied the allegation.
But just barely 24 hours after the attacks, gunmen on Tuesday razed the Ehime Mbano Local Government Area Divisional Police Headquarters also in Imo. The brazen gunmen launched the attack despite the presence of the then Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in Owerri. Adamu had visited the state to assess the level of damage done by Monday attacks and to charge the cops to be ruthless before he was sacked.
Between February and March 2021, gunmen have burnt down Obowo, Abo Mbaise, Ihitte/ Uboma and Isiala Mbano Divisional Police Headquarters, killings three cops and injuring others. This is aside other attacks on innocent citizens.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has condemned the Owerri attacks as acts of terrorism, one which many Nigerians feared was coming up in the South-East.
“Does Nigeria have the capabilities to engage in two blown wars at the same time –one in the North-East and another in the South-East?” asked a Facebook user, Kenneth Ani.
Another Facebook user, Faisal Haruna, wrote, “New Maiduguri is emerging”, while Usman Abubakar corroborated, “That was how Boko Haram started.”
“This was how Boko Haram started. Folks were happy as they attacked police stations until they turned on the people,” Waliu Aro stated.
Also, a tweep, @favouredhero lamented, “This is tending towards anarchy, it keeps on getting worse daily.”
“The rise of IPOB is a photocopy of the rise of Boko Haram, they will have to be curtailed anyways, but this time around it will be very costly…Nigeria remains,” @JackObinyan wrote.
However, with the appointment of a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, as the acting Inspector-General of Police, many Nigerians could only wish for a more secured and safe country.