Suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have fled upon sighting troops of the 34 Brigade during a clearance operation in Imo State.
The troops who were on an operation to clear the separatists in hideouts were however met with resistance as the gunmen engaged them in a gun duel.
In a statement on Thursday, the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, said the incident happened along Amaifeke-Akkatta Road in the Orlu Local Government Area of the state.
Although he did not state the exact time, he said a cache of arms and ammunition belonging to elements of the dissident group were captured.
The army spokesman maintained that the outlawed IPOB members were forced to flee the scene after being overpowered by the troops.
“Troops uncovered the weapons concealed in a black Toyota Camry, after they successfully surmounted ambushes staged by members of the outlawed dissident group, who, having been overpowered by the gallant troops, abandoned their vehicle and weapons in the heat of the combat and fled the scene,” the statement read in part.
Items recovered from them included 10 pump-action shotguns, seven locally fabricated guns, one locally-made revolver pistol, 80 live cartridges, one Baofeng radio, and a substance suspected to be gun powder.
Others include a sachet of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and a Toyota Camry Saloon car.
Nwachukwu also commended members of the public for their continued support to the military and security agencies as they “protect the citizens from atrocious activities of the outlawed dissident groups, who in defiance of law and good order have annihilated innocent Ndigbo and other Nigerians, in their enforcement of an illegal sit at home order, foisted on the good people of the South-East”.
This is even as he asked for timely and credible information to be provided to support the military’s ongoing operations to restore peace and security in the region and other troubled parts of the country.
The Appeal Panel of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has upheld the disqualification of two aspirants seeking to contest the National Assembly elections in Imo State.
It, however, reinstated three other aspirants disqualified last week by the PDP Screening Committee from contesting the party’s primary election ahead of the polls.
Ikenna Ugochinyere and Uche Odunzeh lost their appeals before the panel while the trio of Tony Abili, Pascal Obi, and Collins Ilo, were eventually cleared.
The three-man panel led by Chisom Nwali with Augustine Osah and Solomon Nahum as secretary and member respectively, announced its decision in its report submitted to the party’s national leadership.
Ugochinyere, the spokesperson for the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), is aspiring to vie for the Ideato North/ Ideato South Federal Constituency seat while Odunzeh has declared interest for Orlu/ Our/ Our East Federal Constituency seat – both in the House of Representatives.
In the report, the panel explained that Ugochinyere’s disqualification by the screening committee bordered on gross misconduct and dual party membership, and the petitioner neither appear before it nor send a letter of defence.
“One must be a member of a political party to contest election in that political party,” the panel resolved. “The respondent has not shown good cause that the only party he belongs to is the Peoples Democratic Party.
“The panel therefore resolves that the respondent is not cleared to contest for the Ideato North/ Ideato South Federal Constituency (election).”
Giving an update on Odunzeh’s case, the panel said although the aspirant did not appear before it, he sent in a defence to the petition.
According to it, the case of being an ex-convict is a very serious one which the PDP has overtime taken a serious stance on.
“The respondent’s response to the petition carries no weight and having gone through the report by the court of Maryland (the court of first instance) that convicted him, it suffices that the respondent not having a good ground of defence against the petitioner cannot say to have done justice to the petition,” the panel resolved.
It added that its decision to uphold Odunzeh’s disqualification was in line with the provisions of Section 66 (1) (a) of the Nigerian Constitution.
Governor Nyesom Wike commended the judgement of the Supreme Court on the 17 oil wells dispute between Rivers and Imo states.
In a state broadcast on Friday in Port Harcourt, he berated former Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State for jettisoning the political arrangement earlier put in place to share revenues from the disputed oil wells.
The governor, however, extended an olive branch to the Imo State government that his administration was open for talks without prejudice to the Supreme Court judgement.
Before his broadcast to the people of the state, the Supreme Court had partly resolved the ownership dispute in 17 oil wells ownership in favour of Rivers.
In a judgement prepared by Justice Ellen Ogunwumiju but delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court dismissed the counter claim ownership put forward by the Imo State government.
According to Justice Agim, reliefs One, Three, Four, Five, and Six sought by the Rivers State government were granted by the court.
The court, however, refused to grant reliefs Two, Seven, and 10.
Before the matter got to the Supreme Court, there had been a political arrangement put in place by the administrations of former Governor Peter Odili of Rivers and former Governor Achike Udenwa of Imo for revenues from the disputed wells to be shared equally between the two states.
However, former Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo obtained a presidential memo when became governor in 2019, directing that all the revenues should be ceded to his state.
Displeased by the move, the Rivers State government approached the court to file a suit against the presidential directive.
Read the full text of a state broadcast by Governor Wike below:
My dear people of Rivers State
Today, 6th May 2022, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has delivered its judgment on the subsisting boundary dispute between Imo State and Rivers State over the ownership of some oil wells at the Akiri and Mbede Oil fields.
Let us recall that following the disputed claims to the location and ownership of some oil wells at the Akiri and Mbede oilfields between Imo and Rivers States in 1999, the Governors, Their Excellencies, Achike Udenwa and Dr. Peter Odili respectively, worked out a political settlement and mutually settled for a 50:50 percent beneficial sharing of the derivation proceeds accruing from these wells pending the proper demarcation of the boundaries between the two States by the National Boundary Commission (NBC).
While the dispute lingered, nothing was done by the NBC to demarcate the boundaries of the two States and establish the proper location and title to the disputed oil wells.
However, instead of instigating the NBC to do the right thing, Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State, shortly after assuming office, repudiated the subsisting 50:50 percent sharing formula and made provocative claims to the exclusive ownership of the entire Akiri and Mbede oil wells.
In order to actualise these spurious claims, he stealthily wrote a letter dated 9th August 2019 to President Muhammadu Buhari and requested the refund of the sum of N15, 000,000.00 (fifteen billion naira) from Rivers State to Imo State as a backlog of accrued proceeds from the 13% derivation revenue of the said oil wells.
Acting on Governor Ihedioha’s letter, Mr. President warranted a letter to be written to the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) through his late Chief of State, Mr. Abba Kyari, to alter the status quo against in favour of Imo State without reference to the subsisting dispute and agreement between the two States.
Surprised by the surreptitious plots and collusive actions of the Government of Imo State and the NBC to overreach the legal interest of Rivers State in the disputed oil wells, the Rivers State Government opted to approach the Court for a just and lasting resolution.
Accordingly, we first applied to the Federal High Court, Abuja and among other reliefs, successfully challenged the powers and authority of Mr. President to give directives to the RMFAC and or interfere in any manner whatsoever with the distribution of public revenues from the distributable pool account, including the Federation Account.
Not satisfied with the positive ruling of the Federal High Court, the Imo State Government appealed to the Court of Appeal and lost. We then proceeded against the Government of Imo State at the Supreme Court in a fresh suit for a final and conclusive determination of the boundary dispute between our two States.
In approaching the Supreme Court in this matter, we believed that the dispute between the two States and the contentious issues are such that the Court can judicially, justly, and expeditiously determine with the available facts and supporting evidence, including valid administrative maps, subsisting judgments, and other relevant documents.
And so, the Supreme Court has finally and conclusively resolved the dispute and granted full and exclusive ownership of all the disputed oil wells in Akiri and Mbede oilfields, to Rivers State much to everyone’s relief.
Although Governor Hope Uzodimma was not the mastermind of the impulsive trajectory that compelled us to seek the intervention and protection of the Courts, he nevertheless participated fully in the litigation process to the end without engaging the Rivers State Government for a possible a political solution.
However, his reactions to the judgments of the lower courts on this matter were clearly uncalled for.
Indeed, it was rather unfortunate that someone who became Governor through the instrumentality of the judiciary could turn around to castigate the very institution that made him ruler over the good, peaceful, and progressive people of Imo State.
Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, we hope Governor Hope Uzodimma will accept the outcome in good faith, refrain from his usual diatribes against the judiciary and explore possible pathways to accommodation and compromise from the Rivers State Government.
This, we may readily oblige, despite the betrayals and back-stabbing by Emeka Ihedioha, who in spite of the extensive support and goodwill he received from the Government and people of Rivers State to become Governor, led the onslaught and created a wedge between two brotherly States that have been living at peace and in friendship with each other.
We also deplore the collusive actions of the NBC, which, unfortunately, has become notorious as one of the most corrupt national agencies, which has functioned more in causing confusion than resolving boundary disputes.
It bears repeating that the quest to defend our ownership rights through the courts over the Akiri and Mbede oil wells was not intended to claim victory over Imo or any other State.
We are therefore open to further discussions with the Government of Imo State on the best way forward without prejudice to the outcome of today’s judgment.
We appreciate the lawyers that prosecuted and secured this landmark success for Rivers State, and for their efforts, it is my pleasure to announce the conferment of State Honours on every one of them as the Distinguished Service Star of Rivers State (DSSRS).
Finally, I wish to reiterate our resolve to continue to fight for, advance and protect the best interest of Rivers State at all times and under any circumstances up to the end of our government, and we hope our successor would likewise continue in this courageous spirit and determination to make the desired positive difference for our State and our people.
The Nigerian Army on Tuesday condemned the recent killing of two soldiers by suspected members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), saying the secessionist group is not protecting the interest of the Igbo.
Director of Army Public Relations, Onyema Nwachukwu, disclosed this in a statement, three days after gunmen killed and then beheaded two soldiers at an unknown location in Imo State.
Following the gruesome murder, military authorities confirmed that the victims – Linus Audu, a retired Master Warrant Officer, and his partner, Gloria Matthew, a Private – were travelling to Imo State for their traditional wedding when they were attacked and killed by the gunmen.
Matthew hailed from Nkwerre Local Government Area of Imo state, Nigeria’s South-east, according to the army spokesperson. He expressed surprise that the outlawed group killed the female soldier despite being an indigene of the South-east, where the terror group claim they are on a mission to protect and liberate.
“Ironically, the fact that one of the soldiers, Gloria Matthew who hails from Nkwerre Local Government Area of Imo State (and) has an ethnic affiliation with the good people of South-east Nigeria, did not prevail on the sensibility of the dissidents,” the statement partly read.
“This dastardly act, one too many, clearly portends the deep seated hate, desperation and lawlessness with which foot soldiers of IPOB/ESN have been unleashing terror on Ndigbo, whom they claim they are on a mission to protect and emancipate, as well as other innocent Nigerians who are resident or transiting the South-east.
“This gruesome murder, in which they did not spare even their own child, clearly depicts callousness, impenitence and is indisputably, a brazen act of terrorism perpetrated by IPOB/ESN,” he said.
According to the army spokesperson, the proscribed group has “continued to live in denial, while masquerading as unknown gunmen in their criminal (and) violent campaign in the region.”
The Federal Government has commenced an impact assessment to ascertain the level of disaster in the recent fire explosion at an illegal refinery located at Abaezi community in Ohaji Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State.
This is part of efforts to know the volume of relief to provide to families affected during the incident.
No fewer than 110 people lost their lives in the tragic incident on April 22 that sent the state and President Muhammadu Buhari into mourning.
A few days after the explosion, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq was in Owerri, the state capital.
Address a press conference on Sunday, she said the purpose of the impact assessment is to assist victims in building their lives back.
The Minister, who was represented by the Director of Relief and Rehabilitation in the Ministry, Alhassan Nuhu, said that disaster risk management is first a local and collective endeavor before it becomes national.
He asked traditional and religious leaders, women, and youth groups to join hands with the federal and state government to serve as watchdogs and continuously advocate against the setup and safe use of refinery facilities in their communities.
“I implore community leaders, traditional and religious leaders, women and youth groups to join hands with NEMA to serve as watchdogs,” he said.
“In order to protect lives, properties, and the environment, it is obvious that disaster risk management is first a local and collective endeavour before it becomes national.
“Our visit today is not only to condole with the good people of Imo State but also to assess the extent of the disaster and also ascertain the volume of relief to provide for the victims for the purpose of assisting them to build them better.”
Governor Hope Uzodimma was represented at the burial of the victims by the Chairman of Ohaji/Egbema LGA, Marcellinus Amadioha.
Amadioha described the incident as unfortunate, promising that the government and all relevant stakeholders would ensure to prevent a reoccurrence of such incident.
He explained that the relatives of the victims had come to claim the remains of those they could identify while scores of others were given a mass burial.
“We are here today to do justice as a responsible government,” he told reporters at the scene of the incident. “People whose corpses cannot be identified because of the explosion; the governor has mandated us to make sure we bury those who cannot be identified by their people.
“There are over 100 people but some of them have been identified by their relations. The remaining – over 50 of them – that nobody could identify, we are here to bury them as humans and a responsible government.”
The local government boss stated that in the meantime, the whole area would be fumigated to enable residents of the community to go to farms and carry out their normal business activities.
Present at the burial included officials of the state ministry of health, Red Cross, NEMA, other government officials, and villagers.
According to him, the gunmen opened fire and launched a grenade attack on the troops, noting that the soldiers responded with superior firepower.
“In a hot pursuit that followed the encounter, troops arrested four of the fleeing gunmen and recovered one AK 47 rifle, two magazines, one Police grenade launcher, two Baofeng communication radios and five mobile phones,” the army spokesman said.
“The troops also recovered one IPOB beret, two motorcycles, four SIM cards, five wallets containing different Identity cards, charms and the sum of N16, 460.
“Preliminary investigation on the suspects’ mobile phones reveals gory pictures and videos depicting scenes of cold-blooded murders, corpses displayed in shrines and other heinous atrocities committed by the criminals.”
In a statement issued on Sunday by his media aide, Garba Shehu, the Commander-in-Chief said the responsibility for the loss of lives and property must squarely lie with the sponsors of the illegal refinery, “who must all be caught and made to face justice”.
The President conveyed “the condolences and the full depth and range of the nation’s shock and trauma” to the families of the victims, the Ohaji Egbema community, and the government and people of Imo State.
To forestall a reoccurrence of the incident, the President ordered the armed forces, security, and intelligence agencies to intensify the clampdown on illegal refineries.
This is even as he urged community leaders, the police, and the secret service to never allow the occurrence of the heart-breaking incident in any part of the country again.
Meanwhile, the Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma has commiserated with the families of affected victims.
He, however, explained that running an illegal refinery in the area amounted to economic sabotage to the state and the nation and a criminal act that all should desist from.
The governor warned those still in the business of running illegal refineries in the state to stop forthwith or face the wrath of the law.
Illegal refineries have remained a menace, posing an environmental and economic threat to the nation and resulting in condemnation and crackdowns by the government – especially in the South-South.
Earlier this month, amid reports of widespread crude oil theft and the environmental impact of illegal refineries – evident in the soot problem in Rivers State, the Nigerian Navy launched an operation to combat the threat.
In the spirit of the Easter season, Governor Uzodimma urged such persons to go through the proper legal channels to lodge their grievances.
He gave an assurance that the government would look into them and ensure all efforts to resolve them to ensure peace returns to the state.
According to the governor, it is important for the people to embrace peace for the sake of their children and their unborn children even as violence is alien to their culture.
He wished the people a happy Easter celebration and urged them not to relent in their prayers for peace in Imo and other states across the country.
Read the full text of Governor Uzodinma’s message below:
It is with a profound sense of joy and gratitude to Almighty God that I send my warm felicitations to all the good people of Imo State on this auspicious occasion of the 2022 Easter celebration.
Given the many challenges we passed through between last year’s Easter and now, we should all be joyful and grateful to the Lord who has protected us and given us the opportunity to see this year’s Easter celebration. To the glory of God, we all weathered the storm and are here to join billions of Christians across the globe to joyfully shout “Hallelujah, Christ is risen”.
While we shout hallelujah and celebrate Easter, we must also reflect on the true meaning of Christ’s resurrection for Christians and for all of humanity. Often, we concentrate on the religiosity of the season without the necessary appreciation and deeper understanding of what Jesus Christ demonstrated by dying on the Cross.
As we know, Jesus had the power to refuse or reject death. Remember, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and healed many sick people. Therefore, He had the power to say no to death. Instead, He chose to die for our salvation – Just to save us from our own sins. This is love beyond measure, and the Holy Bible records it as the greatest love of all time in John Chapter 3 vs. 16: ‘‘for God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son so that everyone one who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life “This is sacrifice beyond understanding.
Easter, therefore, offers us the opportunity to rethink the essence of our humanity. As clearly defined by Jesus Christ, the essence of our humanity is to love God, to love one another, and to be ready and willing to make sacrifices for the love of humanity.
The Bible also reminds us that the best way to Love God is to love humanity. This is because if we do not love our brothers and sisters whom we see every day, we definitely cannot love God whom we do not see.
As we celebrate this year’s Easter we should ask ourselves these pertinent questions as Christians who profess the love of God: Do we truly follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ? Do we love our fellow human beings as Christ loved us or are we part of those spreading hate and violence against humanity? How much love have we shown to our state, Imo, and our country, Nigeria?
Can we give up our inordinate ambition for the sake of peace and stability of Imo State? Can we sacrifice our ego for the progress of Imo State and her people? Can we lay down our arms, not our lives, so that people can walk the streets freely in pursuit of their legitimate means of livelihood?
It is truly ironic and disheartening that over ninety percent of both the actors and sponsors of insecurity in Imo State and indeed all over Igboland, claim to be Christians.. Are these Christians the true followers of Christ? Do they even remember the 5th commandment which says; “Thou shalt not kill”? The answer should be obvious,
Let us, therefore, use the occasion of this Easter celebration to purge ourselves of those acts that at best make us hypocrites and at worst enemies of Christ. My brothers and sisters, having gone through the period of lent when we were expected to sanctify ourselves for Christ through fasting, prayers, and almsgiving, it behooves on us to soberly reflect on our contributions to the growth of Christian love which we profess and to the peace of our state.
Are we part of the problem or part of the solution? Are we responsible for the raging insecurity claiming the lives of innocent people or are we assisting Government to halt the carnage? Are we in a position to help reduce the menace of insecurity in the state?
In several fora, I have literally gone on my knees to appeal to the sponsors and perpetrators of these senseless killings to sheath their swords and embrace peace and reconciliation irrespective of whatever grudges they may have. I have also asked for forgiveness from anyone who feels offended by any of the policies or actions of the Government of Imo State which I lead currently.
In the spirit of the Easter season, I would like to repeat this appeal for forgiveness, peace and reconciliation in our state. Heaven will bear me witness that I have always placed the welfare of the people of Imo State above other considerations while taking decisions as Governor of Imo State. It is also on record that I have gone to very great lengths to provide succour to many citizens of the state who were aggrieved by some of the actions of my predecessors.
As peace-loving people, I appeal to you to follow the proper channels to lay down any complaints you may have. As I have done before, I promise to look into these complaints and make all efforts to resolve them to the best of my ability. I am using the period of Easter which symbolises peace, brotherliness, forgiveness, reconciliation, love, and sacrifice to appeal to everyone to embrace peace for the sake of our children and their unborn children.
Violence is alien to our culture. Let us do away with it. How will our forebears – Chief K. O. Mbadiwe, Dee Sam Mbakwe, Chief Evan Enwerem, Chief Collins Obi, Chief R. B. K. Okafor, and Chief H. S. K. Osuji be feeling in their graves? Will they be pleased to see that the state they handed over to us has become a killing field where the blood of innocent women, children, and men now flows freely like the blood of animals?
On behalf of my family and the Government and the people of Imo State, I wish everyone a happy Easter celebration. Let us never relent in our prayers for peace in Imo State and Nigeria. I am confident that the peace we seek is within reach and with peace, the sky will be our limit.
May God Almighty kindly grant our prayers for peace and prosperity in Imo State. Amen.
Gunmen have razed the home of Mr Hilary Akaolisa, the father of the Imo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Cyprian Akaolisa, in Obibi, Awo-Idemili community of Orsu Local Government Area of Imo state.
While confirming the incident to Channels Television, the commissioner said the hoodlums came in their numbers in the late hours of Saturday and shot sporadically in the air.
He explained they came in a truck which they used in carrying all properties in the building such as refrigerators, TV sets, generating sets, mattresses, and other household items before setting the house ablaze with improvised explosive devices. According to him, all cars parked within the premises were also burnt down.
The commissioner said although no lives were lost and no one was harmed, the inhabitants of the house have fled to safety.
Barrister Akolisa also disclosed that In June 2021, gunmen also attacked his building in his country home and razed it down.