While protests were going on in several parts of the country yesterday (June 12), Abia state was turned into a battleground after some Unknown gunmen engaged men of the Nigerian Army in Ohafia Local Government Area of the State. This fierce and ceaseless gun battle between these two warring sides led to the marathon race among residents and Indigenes of Elu, Amangwu, Ebem and Amaekpu in Ohafia LGA to scamper for safety and took refuge in their neighbouring villages.
In the last few days, Elders of Igbo land have continued to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to de- militarize the Southeast region and embrace dialogue for peace and unity to reign. They also urged the President to order the Military men and other security operatives to stop killing innocent residents and Indigenes of the states all in the name of searching for some unknown gunmen or Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) member. They said that the situation was creating tension and fear among the people who had since couldn’ t go about their normal businesses due to the security clampdown.
This latest gun battle between men of 14 Brigade, Army Headquarters, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’ s Barracks and some Unknown gunmen, highly suspected to be members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) in Ohafia has made the people of the communities call on the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu and other lawmakers including those in the state to quickly intervene before things get out of hands.
One of the residents of the affected community gave an account of what transpired ” We learnt that some boys believed to be members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) came to the popular Ebem motor park and started shooting and later left. Soldiers from 14 Brigade Ohafia whose command headquarters is located in the area later came and went after them.
” We learnt that the unknown gunmen killed six soldiers and since that time, it is hell on earth. There have been sporadic gunshots from all corners. We have suffered all manner of intimidation from soldiers. Some of our kinsmen have relocated to Uzuakoli, Umuahia, Aba and anywhere they think that is safer for them. We are in the village but our right to movement is determined by soldiers.
” Marriages ceremonies billed to take place any time soon have been shifted indefinitely. We learnt that at Elu, soldiers went to the market and started pursuing people. A lot of houses have been burnt in the Amangwu Ohafia community. They said that members of ESN were using the houses as their hideout; that I can’ t validate. You need to call anyone from Amangwu to validate such claims. But what I can tell you right now is that Ohafia is on fire, ” the resident added
Another resident of one of the affected communities explained that military men have razed down houses suspected to be the hideouts of ESN members and disclosed the unfair treatment innocent citizens suffered at the hands of soldiers
” I don’ t know the actual number. Some reports were saying six soldiers were killed, others said four and some ESN members were killed in the heavy gunfire. But the truth is that the Amangwu community including Elu, Ebem and Amaepku are all on fire.
” While we were running away from our community just like other persons, we saw a detachment of soldiers heading towards Ohafia from Umuahia end. We don’ t know the fate of our people in the village. Some of them, their phone numbers are not going. It is feared that they have been either arrested or killed by soldiers or other security agents in the state.
” We are begging Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and other federal and state lawmakers to come to our rescue. “