From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
Natives and residents of Akpawfu community in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State yesterday were thrown into deep fear and tension as the area came under heavy bombardments following alleged raiding by troops of secret camps of suspected Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) members and armed bandits, in the community.
This is as the leadership of IPOB has debunked accusations and reports linking the group to the recent murder of four Nigeria soldiers in Enugu State.
Sources disclosed that the raiding of Akpawfu, which was carried out by land and air troops that stormed the community started on Thursday, but became intensive yesterday morning with military helicopters dropping explosives in forests within Ajeme Akpawfu village where the hoodlums terrorising parts of Nkanu land and Enugu city were believed to be hiding.
Though details of the raid could not be ascertained as at press time, reliable sources said that the hoodlums also engaged the troops in a shot-out within the forests.
The same community, it could be recalled was sometime ago raided by a combined team of security operatives where many of the hoodlums were reportedly neutralized and their camps destroyed, yet the area, residents confirmed, has remained a major black spot and security threat in the state.
Confirming the military operation in his community to newsmen, the traditional ruler, Igwe Nnamani, said that though he was presently out of the community, several persons had called to inform him of the development.
The monarch disclosed that members of his family, including his wife and children left the community yesterday to a safe place, just as many other residents must have also fled their homes.
Igwe Nnamani who spoke on phone expressed hope and prayed that peace would be restored to the community after the ongoing security operation.
However, a resident who pleaded anonymity claimed that he fled the community yesterday with members of his family and relocated temporarily to Enugu for the safety of his family following the development.
He said: “As I am speaking with you, people of neighbouring communities of Oruku and Akpugo said they are hearing deafening sounds of explosives and sporadic gunshots and so many people have relocated to these communities for fear of being cut down in the operation. In fact, Akpawfu is not safe right now.
“The entire Ajeme Akawfu community has been under fire since Thursday and everybody has been running helter-skelter for safety. Truly speaking, there are many hoodlums claiming to be IPOB members and we have been living in fear. They kidnap, rape and hold people hostage for ransom in the tick forests and they are also responsible for some of the armed attacks on innocent people around Nkanu land.”
Meanwhile, IPOB in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful yesterday said: “In view of the recent murder of four Nigeria soldiers in Enugu State as well as those in Anambra State which were accompanied by the most reckless and senseless accusations against IPOB as being behind the attacks, it has become very imperative to caution the Nigerian Army and government to desist from such unfounded and false accusations against the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
“One of such irresponsible and false accusation is contained in a viral video from Nigerian Army personnel who was heard openly mentioning IPOB by name in the said video trending online.
“We the global movement and family of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) under the command and leadership of the liberator, Mazi Nnamdi Okwuchukwu Kanu condemns the reckless murder of Nigeria soldiers, but at the same time caution the Nigeria Army to stop accusing IPOB members falsely. We are not responsible for the attacks and killings.
“The Nigerian Army must stop linking IPOB with the killing of their men because of their evil agenda and hatred against Ndigbo and Biafra agitation championed by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB members.
“By tagging every Igbo man and woman as IPOB and ESN members, the Nigerian govt and its security apparatus have created the enabling ground to justify their ongoing extrajudicial executions of Igbo people which simply amount to ethnic cleansing. More so, their decision to make some of their soldiers on duty in Biafra land expendables to achieve their evil plan and justify their military siege and assault to the unarmed people is a state-sponsored terrorism.”