Many people have been reportedly killed in the community following a clash between Nigerian army operatives and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) security outfit, Eastern Security Network (ESN), on January 25.
Videos seen by SaharaReporters during the week showed helicopters hovering around the town in search of the camps occupied by the ESN personnel.
A spokesperson for the Nigerian army 34 artillery Brigade, Obinze, Owerri, Babatunde Zubairu, who confirmed the operation, said the locals were not being harassed.
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The army spokesperson said that the operation was an offshoot of military intelligence.
Kanu, leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, had launched the ESN on December 12, 2020, saying the regional security outfit would help to tackle just like Amotekun in the South-West crimes and criminalities.
After the clash, Kanu accused Governor Hope Uzodinma of working with the army to “flush out and attack ESN officers from the bushes where they are operating.”
On Friday, the Imo State Government said ESN operatives are hoodlums and would be treated as murderers by the government.
The State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Cyprian Akaolisa, said, “The Imo state government invited the military to flush out the hoodlums who call themselves ESN in Orlu.”
According to Akaolisa, Kanu was endangering the people of the state by the activities of ESN In the area.
Replying to a survey conducted by SaharaReporters, some responders accused the military of killing innocent people. For fear of victimisation, some of them didn’t mention their names.
“The military is killing innocent people. They should channel their aggression to the Fulani herdsmen and terrorist bandits,” one of the responders claimed.
Another responder said, “It’s so scary and full of injustice. We now live in fear of the Nigeria army and attack from the armed Fulani herdsmen.
“I cannot go back to my regular business of selling local gari to feed myself and my three children. We are helpless and hungry. We cannot call on the government because they’re biased.
“The government has failed us. They protect their relatives to the detriment of our lives. Do I still have confidence in this government again? The government should negotiate with ESN as they do with Fulani bandits.”
One of the respondents said his friend was allegedly killed by Nigerian soldiers.
“So badly, my gee named Onyebuchi don die, bullet touch am. What’s going on?? ESN is not a terrorist group. Since it was created, no one has been raped, no bad news about them, yet the military is killing us, using them (ESN) as an excuse. What’s going on?” He asked.
“We live in fear; an old woman coming back from her farm was killed. The ESN is not a threat to anyone; the military is. And all the victims of the military assault so far are harmless civilians, not ESN,” another resident of the town said.
“There are reported cases of arrests and deaths, yet to be ascertained by me. There is no crisis in Orlu. The Buhari regime is only displaying a high-level cluelessness. They should return their interest to the northern axis of terror because the ESN is only defending the eastern territories from the ravages of the Fulani herdsmen whom this regime are sponsoring,” one of the residents said.
Another said he lost his business during the clash.
He said, “I lost my business. I must defend my ancestral home if I am equipped to do it. Many people are currently in the hospital, and many can’t go to the hospital because they are afraid the army could come to take them from the hospital. The Nigerian government can’t do anything because they are the ones instigating the crisis.”