The Nigerian Army on Saturday said it has led a combined team of security forces to raid “the operational Headquarters of the IPOB/ESN terrorists in Awomama Village, Oru East LGA of Imo State.”
The early morning Saturday raid was carried out by troops of “the Nigerian Army Nigerian Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS),” according to a statement signed by Army spokesman, Mohammed Yerima.
The operation was put in motion “following a detailed intelligence report on the location of the terrorists’ Operational Headquarters and the movement of the overall Commander popularly known as Ikonson Commander.”
The statement added that, “The IRT and DSS teams along with troops of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army have been on the trail of the terror group since the unfortunate attacks on the Imo State Police Command and the Owerri Correctional Center on 5 April 2021.
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“The said Ikonson Commander who was the mastermind of those attacks in addition to multiple attacks in the South East and South South regions, was neutralised along with 6 of his top Commanders.
“The joint intelligence team had earlier interviewed several arrested IPOB/ESN terrorists in connection with the April 5 attacks and they all confessed that Ikonson Commander who was named as Vice President by their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, was the one that mobilized men and resources as well as ordered and orchestrated the attacks on Owerri.
“They equally revealed that Ikonson was responsible for many other attacks on Police stations across the two geo-political zones.
“The intelligence team later tracked the IPOB/ESN top leader to his exact location in Awomama village where he (Ikonson) and his to Commanders were hibernating and plotting dastardly acts against the Nigerian state.
“On noticing the presence of the joint operations team, IPOB/ESN terrorists brought heavy volume of fire on the raiding team who swiftly responded and overwhelmed them with superior fire power that neutralised Ikonson and six of his top Commanders. Sadly however, a Second Lieutenant and three IRT operatives paid the supreme price in the fire fight that ensued. The four officers who fought gallantly have already been evacuated to a military facility in Owerri.
“So far, 3 AK 47 riffles, a Toyota Sienna van belonging to the terrorists and several other items of value including drugs suspected to be psychotropic substances were recovered and are being processed by the intelligence team to assist in further investigations and operations in the area. The joint security team is already dominating the general area while preparations for further operations are in top gear.
“The neutralised Ikonson Commander had in several occasions posed for photographs with the fugitive leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.”
The statement further noted that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru has commended the security officials involved in the operation.
“He prayed for the repose of the souls of the gallant officers who lost their lives in the operation, stressing that their sacrifice will never be in vain.” the statement said.
“The Nigerian Army along with other security agencies will sustain intelligence-based kinetic operations in the South East and South South until the regions are free of terrorist activities.”
Meanwhile, IPOB has reacted to the killings, saying Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, “will pay dearly”.
In a statement signed by spokesman Emma Powerful on Saturday, the proscribed group said “the killing of the heroic innocent Biafrans protecting our communities and towns from Fulani terrorists herdsmen masquerading as cattle herders in cold blood is very painful.”
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The statement added that “the Supreme Court Administrator of Imo State Hope Uzodinma and all those who had a hand in this wickedness will pay dearly.
“Hope Uzodinma and his cowardly Nigerian security agencies that cannot confront Fulani terrorists but only flex their muscles when they see Biafra agitators. For murdering Ikonso, the ESN unit COMMANDER in in cold blood, Uzodima has stirred the hornet nest! He should get ready for a sting.
“Uzodima decided to kill Ikonso because he refused his offer to head Ebubeagu ghost security outfit formed by South East governors. Uzodima has tried but without success to lure ESN operatives into EBUBEAGU. He had made irresistible offers to them which were turned down, hence his resorting to elimination of these patriotic heroes who vowed never to betray Biafra.
“Hope Uzodinma sent a lot of emissaries to beg Ikonso and other ESN officers to join EBUBEAGU security outfit. So, because of their refusal to betray Biafra agitation and our Leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the hopeless governor mobilized joint security forces to attack them today.
“Contrary to claims by the cowardly security forces who flee from terrorists but kill innocent citizens, they were not able to peneterate into the camp of Eastern Security Network ESN. They only ambushed Ikonso but we promise them hell for this cowardly act!
“Hope Uzodima has murdered sleep, so he should be ready to stay awake! FULANI terrorists pretending as cattle sellers in Enugu destroyed Police van and attacked Government officials on lawful duty with AK-47 but no Army, police or DSS attacked them till now. But ESN operatives defending our communities against the terrorists are being hunted like games everyday. The world has kept quiet over this atrocity until we begin our own madness.
“Hope Uzodinma as you the body of Ikonso was paraded by Fulani Jihadists in police and Nigerian army, so shall it be your portion one day.”
These areas include schools, religious and cultural sites, hospitals, graveyards, and the city walls.
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His status will be reviewed next week, the club added.