Nigerian troops conducting Exercise GOLDEN DAWN in Imo State have dispersed members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB/ESN, while enforcing an illegal sit-at-home order in Awo-Mmamma Community, Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State.
Releasing a statement on Tuesday, the acting Deputy Director, Army Public Relations 82 Division, Abubakar Abdullahi, said the operation took place on Monday.
According to him, in its quest to compel citizens to comply with the unlawful order, the IPOB/ESN criminals indulged in harassment, intimidation and physical abuse of commuters going about their lawful businesses.
He said: “The criminals went further to carry out arson and destruction of businesses and homes at Ishieke junction (along Owerri-Onitsha express way) as a vendetta against the citizens for not complying with the illegal order.
“The hoodlums who had earlier blocked the highway, set ablaze a commercial vehicle heading towards Onitsha.
“Vigilant troops responding to distress calls by motorists and shop owners swiftly moved to the scene and engaged the hoodlums in a firefight. The troops overwhelmed the hoodlums forcing them to scamper in different directions.
“The troops pursued the hoodlums to their hideout in Akatta Community in Oru East LGA, where a member of the group was neutralized in the shootout.”
The statement added that while the troops engaged the hoodlums in their hideout, other members of the group who alleged that some individuals had volunteered information to the troop,s mustered at Ishieke junction and set ablaze houses and businesses of law abiding citizens.
“The troops again returned to the junction to disperse the hoodlums. Unfortunately, a galant soldier paid the supreme prize in defence of the people.
“It is on record that since the sad events of 5 April 2021 when some unscrupulous elements invaded the Custodial Centre in Owerri and freed more than 1,800 inmates, there has been an upsurge in criminalities such as kidnapping, carjacking, robbery, unwarranted killing and arson in Imo State.
“These criminal elements have since then wreaked havoc in the State and its environs.
“Even in the face of unwholesome propaganda by IPOB/ESN, other criminal elements and their collaborators to misinform and mislead Nigerians on the truth regarding the arson at Awo-Mmamma, the NA will continue to remain professional,” the statement emphasized.
The Division, therefore, urged Imo residents to ignore the propaganda and threats by IPOB and its affiliate groups, “who despite their deceitful calls cancelling the Monday sit at home order, have continued to intimidate and harass citizens who come out to do their legitimate business”.