By Tony Oji, Lawrence Nwimo & Praise Necherem
No fewer than three hoodlums were feared killed in a gun duel between the police and unknown gunmen at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters, in Awka, Anambra State, on Sunday night.
Addressing newsmen at the INEC office, Commissioner of Police, CP Chris Owolabi, said the police defensive counter-attack recorded 95 percent success, adding that arms and ammunitions were recovered from the hoodlums.
He, however, did not provide casualty figures as investigations were ongoing, but confirmed that none of his men lost his life in the incident.
He said, “I got a call around 8.15pm that my ‘B’ Division was under attack by armed hoodlums, and there were lots of firing of guns and disturbance of public peace. My men there defended themselves and resisted the hoodlums very strongly.
“We all know it’s a decoy to attack INEC. So, we proceeded to the office where we were able to engage the hoodlums and demobilized the three vehicles they came with, which made them scamper for safety.
“We recovered quite a lot firearms, including 6 pump actions, one type 06 rifle and one AK-47 rifle, police beret, one improvised explosive device (IED) and charms.
“Investigations are still ongoing because it seems the developments are changing, so, I can’t tell you specifically how many casualties. We’re still searching hospitals and remote places to recover them.
“But I can guarantee you specifically, that there’s no casualty on the part of the police. It was a 95 percent success for us because of the buildings and vehicles that were affected both in INEC and our charge rooms in ‘B’ Division.
CP Chris Owolabi said the gunmen invaded the place on two Toyota Hilux van and one other pickup van.
While reassuring the safety of people of the state, Owolabi urged them to be law abiding as they go about their normal businesses, and to keep security agencies abreast of development around their areas.
“We are working with all the forces, Army, Navy, Civil Defence, DSS and others, including joint patrol. We’re back in the street reclaiming the public space,” CP Owolabi stated.
On his part, the INEC Resident Electoral Commission, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, disclosed that six of INEC’s vehicles, collation centre and part of its store were affected in the incident.
Asked if the incident would affect the November 6 election, the INEC chief simply said, “conducting election is for the Commission to decide.”
When Orient Daily visited the scene of the attack at INEC Headquarters, there were severe destruction of the electoral body’s property, including the building where several materials were stored, which was completely destroyed as well as the collation centre.
About seven INEC operational vehicles parked inside the premises were burnt, leaving only the INEC administrative block untouched.
Meanwhile, a team from the State Fire Service were seen battling to quench the fire after earlier attempt made in the first hours of the day to avert further spread of the inferno.
Orient Daily reports that the attack came barely a month after similar incident occurred at the Police Zone 13 Headquarters, Ukpo, in Dunukofia LGA of the State.