From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Gunmen numbering about 30 at the weekend invaded the country home of Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State at Omuma, in Oru East Local Government Area of the State and set fire on the building.
According to eye witness from the community, the gunmen who came in several vehicles dressed in black and army camouflage at about 8:30 am started shooting sporadically in the air before launching their rocket to rip the entrance open.
Also, they were said to have set two vehicles parked outside and inside of the compound ablaze , in the process of their attack. An official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC) who confronted them was said to have been killed instantly.
Although, the fire affected only some parts of the building, another source who witnessed the incident said , self effort by the governor’s neighbours helped in extinguishing the fire even before the arrival of fire fighters.
However, prompt response by combine team of the military ,police,Air force and NSCDC saved further damage at the governors house, but a police sergeant, and another official of the NSCDC was killed by the gunmen at Mgbidi junction while trying to escape.
The State police spokesperson, Orlando Ikeokwu has confirmed the incident but differed that the hoodlums only attempted to raze the governor’s house but were repelled by the gallant efforts of the security deployed to the scene.
But Ikeokwu confirmed the deaths of the 3 security operatives. He said “i can confirm the story, the hoodlums attacked the Governors house by throwing in Petrol bomb as a result of which two cars were burnt.
“But they were successfully repelled, and none of the building was set ablaze, however one unarmed personnel of the NSCDC was killed in the process, the hoodlums while escaping also killed a Police Sergeant and another NSCDC personnel both in there private vehicles at Mgbidi junction.” Ikeokwu said.
A reliable source from the community who disclosed to our correspondent under anonymity said he saw 6 people in critical condition being hurriedly moved out of the governor’s residence but he said he could not confirm if some of them survived .
“These people are looking mean, they drove in a large convoy and headed straight to the governor’s house, they throw a bomb because we heard a loud explosion and some of them went in while some of them remained outside.
“They were shooting heavily as they made their way into the building , we saw some of them outside carried tyres which they used in setting the vehicles outside ablaze.
Another source who also did not want his name mentioned said he felt the gunmen actually came to kill the governor.
” From what I can see from my house, these people are dangerous and I think they came to kill the governor. From the way they were shooting and bombing everywhere you will think the war has started. We were all afraid, we thought they will come for us in our buildings but they never did until they left.” The source said.
Meanwhile, the State government has linked the attack to the detractors of the State government.
A statement by the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy , Declan Emelumba noted that the attack on the governor’s house was politically motivated even as he commended the security operatives drafted to save the situation.
He said “Gallant security operatives this morning repelled an attack on the Omuma country home of the governor of Imo State, Sen Hope Uzodimma.
“At 9am today, Saturday, April 24th, a group of hoodlums numbering about 15 driving in a motorcade of three vehicles accompanied by a tipper loaded with used tyres, stormed the country home of the governor in Omuma, Oru East LGA and attempted to burn down the house.
“However, vigilant security operatives attached to the Governor’s house successfully repelled the attack and consequently minimised the damage they had planned to unleash.
“In the cross fire that ensued a few casualties were recorded. Preliminary investigation suggests that the foiled attack may have been politically sponsored
“The government has directed the relevant security agencies to expedite investigation on the incident and promptly apprehend the sponsors and their agents and bring them to justice.” Emelumba stated.