This is not the best of time for the Nigerian Military as the Unknown Gunmen operating in the South Eastern part of the country have reportedly killed a large number security personnel, a breakdown of which shows loss of 38 soldiers, 78 policemen, 15 Civil Defence officers, five Naval Officers, seven Air Force men and 31 community policing members, aside about 100 civilians, in the last two months. This is a shocking figure considering that this is not a war time.
This was disclosed by the Brigade Commander of 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze, Owerri, Imo State, Brigadier General Raymond Utsaha, during a joint press conference with the state Commissioner of Police, Abutu Yaro, held in Owerri, Imo State capital.
Brigadier General Utsaha attributed the act to the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) stressing that the group is the one masquerading as ‘Unknown Gunmen,’ and operating in the five states of the South East zone of the country.
However, Utsaha promised that the government was committed to ending the activities of the hoodlums in the region, asserting that no responsible government would allow such reign of terror.
“Within these few months, they have killed 78 police officers, 38 army officers, five naval officers, seven air force officers, 15 civil defence officers, 31 community policing members.
“Over 100 innocent citizens and civilians who decided not support the IPOB/ESN or refused to pay them money were also killed and properties worth billions of naira destroyed.
“With this staggering number of casualties, no serious government will stand by and watch the life of security personnel and its citizens to be destroyed. Survey reports show that 80 per cent of the security personnel killed are from the eastern part of the country.”
It will be recalled that IPOB being led by Nnamdi Kanu set up an armed wing late last year, dubbed, Eastern Security Network (ESN), following which the notorious Unknown Gunmen emerged committing all manners of heinous crimes including targeting of security operatives for extermination, burning of police formations and patrol vehicles and razing of other government properties.
Security operatives have mowed down a number of the ESN operatives too including a top commander of the outlawed group Ikonzo, who was terminated on April 25, 2021.
The group went ahead to declare a state-at-home order last May 29 to commemorate the killing of Igbos during the 1967-1970 Civil War in Nigeria, which shockingly the people of South East obeyed raising much concern as to the resolve of the South East people to form a separate country of Biafra.
The alarm by the Army over the killings of his men by the mysterious Unknown Gunmen and the non-ability of security forces to curtail the group is a surprise to many security experts who wonder that despite the constant reinforcements by the army which saw it drafting war hardened, elite forces from the Boko Haram war theatre in the North East and from among its men on overseas courses and trainings, and the deployment of the famed DCP Abba Kyari, who heads the Inspector General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team (IGP-IRT) and his crack team, which busted the kidnap ring of Evans few years ago, the hoodlums are yet to be caged. Instead the army is lamenting killing of over 170 security operatives in two months.