From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
The recent series of bloody attacks on police formations by gunmen in different parts of Anambra State continued yesterday at Zone 13 police headquarters.
The police headquarters, which is located in Ukpo, Dunukofia Local Government Area of the state, covers Anambra and Enugu police commands, was established last year to coordinate the security concerns in the two states.
According to police sources, the gunmen stormed the zonal headquarters located along Awka-Onitsha Expressway at about 4am and opened fire on the facility.
The jolted policemen on night duty reportedly put up strong resistance and were able to stop the attackers from wreaking greater havoc on the facility.
The daredevil criminals, who were said to have stormed the area with sophisticated firearms, destroyed some vehicles parked in the premises. They also burnt a security house at the gate.
When the dust settled, two policemen whose names were given as Inspector Ishaku Aura and PC Uzoma Uwaebuka, were killed.
At the moment, the office of the AIG in the zonal police headquarters is vacant, as the former occupier of the office, AIG Hafiz Inuwa, had been transferred to the Force Headquarters, Abuja, where he now serves as secretary.
But the Deputy Commissioner of Police in the Zone 13, DCP Echeng Echeng, confirmed the ugly development to Daily Sun. He didn’t give full details at the time of filing this report, as, according to him, they were still taking stock.
“That’s what we are trying to assess for now. You already have the information that the zonal headquarters was attacked early this morning around 4am.
“We are trying to assess the damage so that we will be able to come out with comprehensive detail of the damage so that we will not be found wanting in that respect”, he said.
Asked about the two policemen that were reportedly killed, Echeng said that only one was killed while the other died of exhaustion.
“A policeman was killed; he paid the supreme price, while the other person died of exhaustion, he was not shot”, the DCP told Daily Sun.
Asked if the police were able to, at least, extract some pounds of flesh from the attackers, he said that the gunmen didn’t leave the police facility unscathed, as there were bloodstains everywhere.
“Well, there are bloodstains everywhere; they carried their casualty and left. A lot of them left with injuries and we also recovered a general purpose machine gun (GPMG) from them”, Echeng said.
Asked if he suspected any organization or group of being behind the act, he said: “It is too early for us to do that. We are conducting a full-blown investigation.”
However, in a statement by the zonal police public relations officer, DSP Nkeiruka Nwode, the police denied that policemen were killed. It said that the two were simply injured and were receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital. Nwode also said that the attackers were successfully repelled even as one of the attackers was neutralized and one GPMG and several rounds of ammunition recovered.
The statement read: “Police successfully repelled an attack on the zonal headquarters by criminal elements in the early hours of today, April 19, 2021.
“The attackers, who came in their numbers shooting sporadically in order to gain access to the facility, were repelled by police personnel on duty who showed profound gallantry in the face of the seemingly overwhelming attack.
“Following the inability of the attackers to access the facility, they threw petrol bombs and improvised explosive devices on vehicles within the periphery of the headquarters.
“One of the criminal elements was neutralised during the exchange of gunfire between the police and the attackers, while many of the gang members escaped with gunshot injuries.
“One L7A2 general purpose machine gun, 92 rounds of 7.62mm live ammunition, one locally made smoke pistol and an axe were recovered by the police.
“Regrettably, two police operatives sustained gunshot injuries and are presently receiving treatment.
“The commissioner of police, Anambra State Police Command, Kuryas Monday, who is also standing in for the zonal Assistant Inspector General of Police, has commended the police operatives for putting up a strong resistance against the attackers.
“The CP, supported by other senior officers from Zone 13 headquarters and the state command, is personally leading a special operation aimed at tracing, identifying and arresting the perpetrators, to bring them to book.
“He also called on proprietors of private and public (including unorthodox) medical facilities in and around Anambra State to admit but report anyone found seeking medical attention for bullet wounds and related injuries to the nearest police station.
“The CP has called on citizens in the state not to panic but to go about their lawful duties. While assuring of the command’s resolve to re-dominate, reclaim and secure all public spaces as directed by the Inspector General of Police, the CP enjoins members of the public to continue to support the police with vital and timely information on the activities of criminals and other subversive elements within their respective communities.”
Meanwhile, this latest incident is about the ninth on police and other security agents in the state in 2021, which have left about 16 policemen and four naval officers dead.
The first attack on police in Anambra this year took place on February 24. That day, criminals from the pit of hell launched deadly attacks on policemen at Mkpologwu and Omogho communities in Aguata and Orumba North local government areas, respectively, killing four policemen.
Two policemen were killed on both sides by the criminals, who subsequently set their patrol vehicles ablaze. They also reportedly made away with their victims’ guns, leaving pains and agony in their trail.
According to sources, the gunmen operated with a black Mercedes-Benz 4matic and another unidentified brand of car.
Sadly, those vicious attacks took place a few days after the widely publicised red card issued to criminals in the state by the new CP, Kuryas.
On March 18, gunmen killed three policemen, who were on duty at a location in Neni community, Anaocha LGA of Anambra State, and carted away their rifles. They also set their patrol vehicles ablaze.
The same day, three naval officers on duty at Awkuzu, Oyi LGA, were attacked and killed. Their guns and other military equipment were equally taken away by their killers. It came about three weeks after the Mkpologwu and Omogho incidents.
On March 19, gunmen attacked a vehicle belonging to the Nigeria Correctional Service on court duty, killing one officer and a policewoman who boarded the vehicle from the court in Ekwulobia.
Confirming the development, the public relations Officer of the service, DSC Francis Ekezie, said that the attackers went away with the crime suspect who was taken to court.
The statement read: “Gunmen yet to be identified attacked the court duty vehicle of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Anambra State, at Nanka, while conveying inmates back from court to the Aguata custodial centre.
“The attackers killed the corrections officer and whisked away the inmate being taken back to the custodial centre.
“The gun duel that lasted for about 10 minutes was reportedly perpetrated by suspected hoodlums in two vehicles, a Sienna bus and a Hilux pick-up van that trailed the court duty vehicle from the court premises.
“Although the armed escort put up a gallant resistance, he was unfortunately overpowered by the hoodlums who came in their numbers with sophisticated weapons.”
On March 21, one policeman sustained gunshot injuries when gunmen attacked the police post in Mgbakwu community, Awka North LGA.
The incident, Daily Sun gathered, took place in the early hours of Sunday. It was also gathered that the hoodlums, who fired some gunshots in the air, also made attempts to set the police post ablaze.
Sources said that there was a gun battle between the criminals and the policemen on night duty. They said it was during the gun duel that the policeman was injured.
There were traces of blood on the floor of the police post as seen in a video trending on social media. The quantum of blood on the floor indicated that the victim was badly injured.
The PPRO in the state, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu, in a statement, confirmed the attack but said that the attackers were successfully repelled by the policemen on duty.