By Olisemeka Obeche & Mokwugwo Solomon
Two policemen were feared dead and police patrol van burnt on Monday when suspected members of the outlawed pro-Biafra group, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) allegedly attacked police officers at Oraifite, Ekwusigo local government area of Anambra state.
Orient Daily reports that commercial activities were paralysed in the area, even as residents were sighted fleeing the community in their numbers as heavily armed police personnel laid siege of the community following the attack.
The bloody clash which took place around 11:30am, this paper gathered, followed a formal complaint against Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor, a suspected member of IPOB on alleged case of abduction, assault resulting in harm and malicious damage to property.
“In the morning hours, we heard gunshots. We learnt that police invaded the house of our brother, Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor, at UmunakwaIfiteOraifite. We heard that police and IPOB members clashed, resulting in the death of police and IPOB members,” a source from the community, who refused to disclose his identity, said.
The traditional ruler of Oraifite community, Igwe Dr. Dan Udorji and the President-General of Oraifite Improvement Union, Dr. Godson Okeke, were said to be out of town when Orient Daily visited. Several calls put across to them for their comments on the development were not answered.
When contacted by this paper, the Area Commander of Oraifite Area Command, ACP Oliver Abbey, confirmed the development; but declined further comments.
According to an official statement issued by the Anambra state Police Public Relations Officer, Haruna Mohammed, shortly after it received the report, police patrol teams led by the Area Commander of Oraifite, ACP Oliver Abbey rushed to the scene to arrest the suspect who declined to honour police invitation.
Mohammed, a Superintendent Police (SP) officer further disclosed that as soon as police operatives arrived the suspect’s house to carry out the arrest, armed men suspected to be IPOB members swooped on them, set ablaze apatrol vehicle and attacked them with rifles and machetes.
“As a result of the attack, two police officers, whose identities are being withheld, were killed by the suspected IPOB members; while others were inflicted with machete cuts. The injured personnel were rushed to the hospital for medical attention and are presently receiving treatment.
The police spokesman further disclosed that following the attack, the state police command deployed reinforcements from the State Headquarters comprising of PolliceMoble. Force (PMF), Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and Special Anti Cult(SPACs) Units in conjunction with the Army and other security agencies “who cordoned off the area in order to fish out the culprits,while Joint patrol are still ongoing in the town to prevent further breakdown of law and order. “
According to him, while some of the perpetrators were arrests, the Commissioner of Police, CP John B.Abang,who was on his way to the scene, had vowed to bring perpetrators of this dastardly act to justice .
Efforts made by our reporter to get the suspect, Barr Ifeanyi Ejiofor, for his own side of the story was unsuccessful; as his line was not reachable; neither was there any IPOB member on ground to speak on the development.
A police source identified the slain officers as the Officer in Charge of SARS, Ichi police station in Ekwusigo LGA, ASP Joseph Akubo and the Area Commander of Oraifite, ACP Oliver Abbey. The Oraifite DPO and 15 other police officers who sustained various degrees of injuries were recieving medical treatment, the source said.