Juliana Francis

The Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Ahmed Barde, has explained in detail how suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its armed affiliate, Eastern Security Network (ESN), attacked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office with guns and explosives.

The number one policeman in the state explained that the incident happened on the 12th of December 2022, at about 3:30 am.

He said: “The bandits suspected to be members of the Proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its armed affiliate, Eastern Security Network (ESN) in their numbers, came to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s office along Port-Harcourt Road, New Owerri, shooting sporadically, threw improvised explosives into the premises of the INEC, from a Petroleum Filling Station that share fence with the Commission.

“The police operatives on guard professionally took vantage positions and engaged the hoodlums in a fierce gun battle. The hoodlums who were overwhelmed by the superior firepower of the police operatives, took to their heels, abandoning a Lexus RX330 Jeep with registration number IMO WER-82LZ. They sped off in their other vehicles towards Onitsha Road and were given a hot chase by the operatives.

“On getting to Ogbaku along Onitsha Road, the hoodlums, again engaged the police operatives in a fiercer gun duel, and in the process, three of the hoodlums were neutralised and two others arrested with various degrees of bullet injuries, while others scampered for safety into the nearby communities.”

According to Barde, on searching the scene and the abandoned vehicles, the following items were recovered; three AK-47 Rifles, four Pump Action Guns, three Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), four locally made bombs, one axe, three vehicles, various types of charms, one Red Beret, five native caps, three phones of different makes, two Walkie Talkie, three ATM cards, eight cartridges, one A.Ammunition and two bunch of keys.

At the INEC office, two offices were affected by the explosives and petrol bomb. However, the main building remains intact, said Barde.

“The corpses of the neutralised hoodlums and that of the two police operatives who paid the supreme price were evacuated and deposited at the Federal Medical Centre Owerri and another operative who sustained a bullet wound on his leg was rushed to the hospital for treatment and is in a stable condition. Meanwhile, concerted efforts are being made to arrest the fleeing suspects since they cannot go far, due to the various degrees of injuries they sustained in the gun duel,” said Barde.

Barde, while commending the officers and men for their gallantry, commiserated with the families of the deceased officers and enjoined the people of the State not to relent in collaborating with security agencies, especially in giving credible and timely information to the Police.

He then appealed to Imo State citizens to report suspicious activities or any person seen treating bullet wounds within their communities to the nearest police station.

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