ABOUT 16 members of the separatists group the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) including a clergyman have been arrested by the police in connection with the recent killing of security personnel across the southeast geo-political zone.
Over recent months, several security operatives were said to have been killed in Anambra State when they clashed with members of Ipob and its sister organisation the Eastern Security Network (ESN). In response, the military have decided to crack down on both organisations with the chief of naval staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, warning that the Nigerian Navy and other sister agencies were determined to enforce security in the region and protect Nigerians.
About 20 policemen and four naval personnel had been killed by gunmen suspected to be ESN members in the southeast over the last three months. Vice Admiral Gambo said that the 16 suspects arrested included Ipob members and a pastor and they are facing charges relating to complicity in a series of violent and unprovoked attacks on security operatives and facilities in some states of the federation, particularly in the southeast.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, Vice Admiral Gambo said President Muhammadu Buhari directed the service chiefs to put heads together to change the deepening insecurity in Nigeria. He added that his visit to the Onitsha Naval Dockyard in Anambra State followed recent attacks on security personnel and formations there during which four naval officers lost their lives in separate attacks by unknown gunmen.
Vice Admiral Gambo said: “I have to be here to reassure our staff at the naval outpost that have been here since 2010 to double their efforts and be on the alert based on the potent threat we are observing now from Eastern Security Network, which is the security arm of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra. We are working in conjunction with other armed services as well as security agencies to make sure we bring lasting peace to the states that have been peaceful for quite a long time now and this, of course, is in line with Mr President’s directive.
“This visit is very timely, though with deep reflection because of the loss of our men and platoon weapons. You must be on alert and double our efforts on criminal elements attempting to truncate the existing peace in the states, even though the attacks were not particularly on us alone.
“We are working in conjunction with the armed forces and security agencies to ensure lasting peace in this state and others in the southeast. I am here on operational visit to the Onitsha naval outpost and I wouldn’t have been here but for expediency, following the two separate incidents we had last week that led to the loss of some of our men and two platoon weapons.”
Among those arrested for the crimes include Ugochukwu Samuel, alias Biggy, 28; Raphael Idang, 31, Cletus Nwachukwu Egole, alias Alewa, 60; Michael Uba, 33 and 12 others. According to the police, investigations revealed that Ugochukwu Samuel and Raphael Idang were among the criminal elements that attacked policemen on duty at a checkpoint on December 24, 2020, along Orlu-Ihiala Road in Imo State where two police officers were killed and a Police Hilux patrol van was set ablaze.