Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma has revealed that he invited the military to flush out members of Eastern Security Network (ESN) set up by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in Orlu communities in the state.
KanyiDaily had reported how the Nigerian Army deployed military fighter jets to conduct aerial strikes in Orlu, meant to dislodge ESN operatives said to have strongholds in the forests.
The clash between the military and ESN operatives caused serious tension in the area with many Nigerians taking to social media to condemn the act and demand a withdrawal of the soldiers.
Speaking through the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Cyprain Akaolisa, at a press briefing in Owerri, Governor Uzodinma said he invited the soldiers to restore law and order in Orlu.
The governor also insisted that his administration would not yield to pressure from those calling for withdrawal of soldiers from the crisis-ridden area.
Uzodinma accused IPOB and ESN of causing trouble in the area under the pretext of chasing out Fulani herdsmen. He described the suspected ESN operatives as hoodlums, saying they will be treated as murderers by the state government.
“The attacks on police stations and killing of policemen during #Endsars were carried out by IPOB and not protesting youths for the sole purpose of hijacking and stealing weapons.
“They are now using those arms to destroy Orlu. They killed 10 policemen, a prominent Orlu soon, Ignatius Obiezu and one Emmanuel Okeke (Soludo) collected their Hilux vehicles. The IPOB also shot and killed four Moslems doing their business in Orlu.
“IPOB said they were looking for herdsmen, but these victims they killed before the crisis, were they herdsmen?
“We heard Nnamdi Kanu celebrating the activities of his men in Orlu that they are doing well by killing innocent citizens. There’s no Fulani herdsmen in Orlu. So, we asked ourselves, what is the colouration that IPOB is trying to give this onslaught in Orlu?
“That’s why our government decided to invite military to flush out IPOB and their so called ESN.
“We discovered that there was a camp which IPOB established at Umutanze, Orlu and we sent police to dislodge them. But, it happened that they attacked the policemen and killed two of them. It was after they killed those policemen that government had to bring in the military.
“It was not easy for the military to push them out of that place. But the military succeeded. That was why they came on a reprisal attack and killed the innocent ones.
“They also relocated to Udah in Orsu LGA, a camp at a boundary between Imo and Anambra States. The place is a very depressed groove that no one can easily enter.
“For the past two weeks, surveillance was monitoring that place and there were more than 200 people being trained in that camp. The military had to deploy their arsenal to diminish the IPOB people there.”
The governor expressed surprise that people could call for withdrawal of soldiers from Orlu, insisting that “we can’t do that. We can’t fold our arms for these boys to continue to kill people everyday”
He said he would arraign arrested IPOB and ESN operatives for murder because they are hoodlums and would be treated as murderers by the state government.
KanyiDaily recalls that in January, the ESN operatives had another bloody clash with the Nigerian Army in Orlu, where many people were reportedly killed and property destroyed.