From Tony John, Port Harcourt, Joe Effiong, Uyo
It was a bloody Saturday, yesterday, as gunmen overran various police formations in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, killing a total of 12 policemen and a woman.
This is further to the orgy of deadly attacks on security operatives that has continued to rip through the South East and South South regions in the recent weeks.
In Rivers State, gunmen reportedly shot dead at least seven policemen in an unexpected invasion of communities in the State. Similarly, gunmen reportedly overran another police station in Akwa Ibom, gunning down five policemen, and a woman.
The Rivers incident happened late last Friday night on the East-West Road between Choba Bridge and Rumuji community. Sunday Sun gathered that the gunmen first attacked the C4i police formation at Emohua community and killed two people. They also attacked a stop-and-search police point at Ogbakiri Junction before moving to Rumuji where they killed three policemen.
It was further learnt that the hoodlums also attacked Elimgbu Police station in Obio/Akpor LGA and killed two men in what seemed like a coordinated operation.
The youth president of Elimgbu community, Uche Morgan, told newsmen that the incident took place about 10pm on Friday night.
Morgan disclosed that the moment he heard it, he mobilised his fellow youths to the station ad were there till Saturday morning. He revealed that the shooting caused serious panic in the community, adding that the youths would synergise with the security agencies.
State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nnamdi Omoni, a Superintendent of Police (SP), confirmed the development to journalists.
He said in a statement that were killed.
“In the course of exchange of fire, two of the attackers were fatally wounded and died on the spot.”
The PPRO disclosed that the third attack at Elimgbu Police Station was equally resisted by the police, though three officers were killed, but the exchange of fire forced them to abandon their bullet-riddled Hilux van; they later escaped in a snatched Sienna bus.
He said their encounter with the police also forced them (gunmen) to abandon the Sienna car at the Refinery junction.
Omoni added that the bodies of the “fallen heroes” had been evacuated and deposited in the mortuary.
He said the Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday, who led members of his team and tactical commanders to the respective scenes yesterday morning, for on-the-spot assessment had launched a serious manhunt for the perpetrators.
The police spokesman said the police boss later had a security meeting with his team, assuring that security had been further beefed up in all the police formations in the state.
He added that “it is pertinent to note, that in all three attacks carried out last night, no police station/formation was burnt. Regrettably, a total of five assault rifles were lost in the incident.”
The Akwa Ibom attack which came barely one week after two police officers were gunned down in Ika local government area of Akwa Ibom State, saw the killing another five policemen and a woman in Ini Local Government Area of the state.
The policemen and the woman said to be a wife of one of the police officers were allegedly gunned down by hoodlums at a police divisional headquarter situated at Odoro Ikpe.
Sunday Sun learned that the hoodlums were said to have stormed the police station in two buses in the early hours of Saturday. They also set some vehicles and the police station ablaze, injuring some other policemen who scampered for safety.
Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Odiko MacDon (SP), who was at the scene of the attack for on-the-spot assessment, said: “There was an attack at the Divisional Police headquarters, Odoro Ikpe in Ini Local Government Area. Six persons including five officers and a wife of an officer were killed.”
Recall that police stations and other security posts in Akwa Ibom State have in recent months experienced cases of early-morning attack, leading to the death of officers and destruction of facilities, including utility vehicles and infrastructures.
An online statement purportedly issues by the office of the chairman, Ini Local Government Area, Mr Isreal Idaisin, alleged that the invasion was carried out by members of Eastern Security Network (ESN).
“The gunmen who came in two buses and a Sienna car filled with armed men numbering more than 40, arrived Ini Local Government Area with sophisticated weapons and broke into the police facility at precisely 2:45am, killing five policemen on duty, burning vehicles while inflicting injuries on others.
“Some police officers who attempted to repel the gunmen were overrun.”
The statement said the council boss commended the youths of the area for raising the alarm which helped to reduce the number of casualties.
“I urge the good people of Ini LGA to stay calm as we are working with relevant security agencies and the Government of Akwa Ibom State to ensure that the situation is contained and necessary modalities are being put in place to forestall a recurrence. There is no cause for fear as the culprits will be brought to book in no distant time,” the statement read
Sunday Sun could not however confirm the authenticity of the statement as it was signed neither by the chairman nor any of his media aides. He equally did not take his calls.