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IPOB, ESN Security Clashes Worsen in the South East

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The security situation in South East Nigeria, as with most parts of the country is on a rapid deterioration. Bandits took hold of the Imo State Zonal Police headquarters in Orieagu Mbano in Okigwe South Federal Constituency and set it ablaze. Reports are that five policemen were killed, with unspecified numbers of persons injured. Following immediately, was the setting ablaze of the Federal High Court premises in Abakiliki, Ebonyi State. There have also been reports of attacks in Igbariam community in Anambra State. In addition, national news was also filled with an attack on the country home of the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, in Omuma, Oru East Local Government Area. The government has accused the Eastern Security Network (ESN) launched by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) of responsibility for these attacks. On Saturday, April 24, combined forces of the Nigeria Police, the Department of State Services and the Nigerian Army raided the ESN headquarters in Awomama village in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State, setting several events in motion. Eleven (11) persons, including a top-ranking commander of the ESN were reported to have been killed in the course of the operation. According to the Nigerian Army, the raid was launched following information that the ESN commander, known as Ikonso was responsible for the attack on the Police Headquarters and Nigerian Correctional facility in Owerri on April 5. Shortly after, the State Governor’s country home was set ablaze by unknown persons, destroying cars and other properties within his premises. IPOB has refuted allegations attributing responsibility of the attack to the group.

These developments underscore growing agitations from various groups and interests within the country, mostly fuelled by ethnic differences. With a President who has openly favoured his ethnic group above all others, and reflecting same in political and security appointments, the divisions in the country are further deepened. Also, it will be recalled that there have been one too many attacks on police facilities in the South-East and South-South regions in recent times, with the Police accusing IPOB of perpetrating these attacks in some cases. IPOB has however, denied these allegations.