Sit-at-home: Residents Panic As Army Vows Crackdown On Soldiers’ Killers

There was palpable fear in Abia State on Friday following the declaration of the Nigerian military that the killers of five soldiers in the state would not go scot-free. The five slain soldiers were killed at an Army checkpoint in the Aba area of the state on Thursday in a manner many people have described as wicked and unacceptable....Read The Full Story Here ▶

However, in a press release issued by the Army Director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba, the military authorities vowed that the killers of the slain soldiers would be apprehended and punished.

The military said the slain soldiers, deployed to enforce peace in the state, met their death when some terrorists, who came in three Prado Toyota SUVs, attacked them at the checkpoint.

The Army stated that while investigations have since commenced on the attack, it would retaliate the dastardly act against the troops by launching overwhelming military pressure on the terrorists to ensure their total defeat.

The NA stated, “Troops of OP UDO KA deployed at Obikabia Junction Checkpoint in Obingwa Local Government Areas adjourning Aba metropolis in Abia State were attacked and sadly killed by terrorists of IPOB/ ESN.

“The troops deployed to enforce peace in the area and protect the citizens were mass-attacked by the terrorists. The terrorists, in three tinted Prado Toyota SUVs and others from built-up areas surrounding the checkpoint, sprang a surprise attack on the checkpoint.

“The attack sadly took the lives of five personnel of the armed forces killed in action. The Armed Forces mourn the death of these troops as every soldier lost in battle is a terrible loss. Meanwhile, investigations are ongoing concerning the attack.

“Overall, it must be reiterated that the lifeline of the terrorists is the people and this situation is no exemption. Winning the war without the support of the people is close to impossible. The IPOB capitalised on this to perpetrate attacks on the troops. The situation leaves more to be desired.

“Accordingly, it is imperative that the military retaliate against this dastardly act against troops. The military would be fierce in its response. We would bring overwhelming military pressure on the group to ensure their total defeat,” it added.

However, the decision of the Nigerian military has thrown the state into deep panic, just as key stakeholders therein have condemned the attack, describing it as wicked and barbaric.

Reacting, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatisation and former Governor of the state, Dr Orji Kalu, condemned the killing of the soldiers, calling on security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of the ugly act because “the personnel of the armed forces don’t deserve to be maltreated given the role they play in national security”.

The former governor, while calling on residents of the state to be calm and law-abiding emphasised that peace is a panacea for development and commiserated with the Nigerian army on the sad development.

He said, “The killing of soldiers at a checkpoint in Aba is barbaric. The perpetrators must be identified for appropriate actions. For the sake of growth and progress of the South-East, all hands must be on deck to fish out criminals in the region.”

Former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe also described the attack as “disheartening and barbaric”.

In a statement issued by his Media Adviser, Uchenna Awom, Abaribe called on the security authorities to immediately apprehend the killers and ensure that the perpetrators face the full weight of the law.

Senator Abaribe, who represents Abia South in the Senate, said, “There is no justification whatsoever for anybody or group of persons to harm any security officer not to talk of killing any in whatever guise.”

He called on the Army authorities to “mitigate the ugly situation for the sake of other Innocent civilians, who are going about their respective businesses oblivious of the heinous conduct of demented souls that are bent on bringing society to its knees”.

“I am at a loss as to the evil motives of those responsible for the killings. It can never be the character of our people and such devilish tendencies does not reflect who we are. Nothing on earth can justify what has happened. It is sorrowful and stands condemned. However, I appeal to the authorities to look beyond and consider the oblivious innocent civilians while going after the culprits for ultimate justice,” Abaribe said.

Similarly, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Emeruwa has described the attack as “very unfortunate and regrettable”.

The speaker, in a statement issued by his press secretary, Ujoh Okechukwu, condemned the attack, describing it as “barbaric, reprehensible and generally untoward”.

Emeruwa noted that “The administration of Dr Alex Otti would not further tolerate such uncivilised acts”, assuring that efforts would be intensified to fish out the perpetrators of the crime.

The Speaker further added that the state would not be a haven nor henceforth harbour criminals and evil-minded persons or groups.

In his reaction, a member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia at the National Assembly, Rt. Hon. Obi Aguocha, also described the incident as a “regrettable and unnecessary incident”, saying “It further delays our peace process and efforts aimed at the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu”.

Meanwhile, the state government has placed a N25m bounty on the perpetrators.

This was contained in a statement issued on Friday by the Commissioner for Information and Culture, Prince Okey Kanu.

The statement partly reads, “To underscore its resolve, the state government is offering an N25m reward to anyone with useful information that could lead to the location and arrest of any of the criminals connected to the unfortunate killings, and the subsequent state of apprehension across the city of Aba and environs.

Meanwhile, the Abia State Commissioner of Police, CP Kenechukwu Onwuemelie has assured that the law will take its course on the perpetrators of the killing of soldiers at Obikabia junction, Aba on Thursday.

Briefing newsmen on Friday after a marathon and expanded meeting of the State Security Council and the newly inaugurated members of the Abia Advisory Council, Onwuemelie described the killing as “unfortunate and condemnable”.

He said, “The point is that it is a very unfortunate incident and it’s highly condemnable and indeed it’s cowardly but it happened yesterday.

“All I can tell you is that the security agencies, the government of Abia State, and all well-meaning Nigerians feel very bad about what happened, and everything that needs to be done will be done to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. And even as it happened that the course of the law will take place”, he added.

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