From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The Izombe Community in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State has lamented the invasion of its community, which led to the burning and looting of shops, as well as innocent persons sustaining both bullet and machete cut injuries.
It would be recalled that gunmen suspected to be members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra/Eastern Security Network (ESN) in the early hours of Saturday had clashed with the police at the Agwa Police Divisional headquarters in Oguta council.
But the Izombe people accused the police of invading their community, claiming that it has nothing to do with what happened in Agwa community.
Pauly Igbokwe, who decried the destruction of property in the Izombe community said: “Agwa where this the incident happened is not close to Umuokwu, Izombe village.
“The Izombe villages that share boundaries with Agwa are Amakpuruedere and Amaudara both in Oboebor Autonomous Community. Umuokwu and Ugbele where the police operatives burnt some buildings and set two vehicles ablaze are in Aborshi and Umunwama autonomous communities respectively.
“In one of the buildings burnt is directly opposite the Holy Family Catholic Church, Izombe, where Mrs Anuli Nzeocha, a young widow of about 36 years of age was in the church attending combined Saturday Mass for CMO and CWO when she was informed that they have set her father’s building where her chemist shop was on fire. My question is: what role did she play in such a crime that took place in Agwa if really that was the reason?”
He decried the repeated invasion of the Izombe community by security operatives.
“It was October last year that more than 150 buildings were completely burnt and destroyed in Umuokwu, Umuorji and Ndioko all in Aborshi Izombe by soldiers over dispute they had with village boys.
“Nothing has been done on the colossal damage innocent people suffered, and yet another attack is launched on the Izombe again,” he said.
Igbokwe said that they were still at the first Saturday combined Mass of Catholic Men Organisation and Catholic Women Organisation at Holy Family Catholic Church Izombe when they received calls on the attack.
He appealed to the state government to look into repeated incidents of mass destruction of innocent people’s houses in Izombe and put a stop to it.
Also, Sampson a victim of the invasion said that at least 10 persons sustained gun and machete cut injuries with seven vehicles burnt when the combined team of police, army and Ebubeagu security aperatives stormed the Izombe community.
He said: “The heavily armed team equally destroyed and set ablaze about four buildings and 18 fully stocked shops located in the commercial communities of Umuokwu and Ugbele Izombe on Saturday. I was inside the room when I started hearing gunshots and violent noise at the shops section of our compound.
“My wife even saw the heavily armed security operatives and they pointed gun at her and ordered her to get inside.
“When their noise became less, we came out, and noticed that the shops section of our house were destroyed with seven vehicles burnt in Ugbele village alone.”
Similarly, Uka disclosed that one Ethelbert Ozor, Simeon Onyekador, and six others sustained gun and machete cut injuries inflicted on them by the group in Ugbele.
They called on the state government to always thoroughly scrutinize intelligence gathered and track the people suspected to be involved in a crime and pick them up rather than destroying at random innocent people’s houses.