Gunmen went on the rampage in Anambra State between Sunday and Monday as they killed two soldiers, kidnapped a lawmaker, set ablaze a local government secretariat, an office of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, a magistrate’s court building as well as over 32 vehicles.
The attacks came less than three days after the state Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, visited the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, in the custody of the Department of State Services.
The gunmen on Sunday shot dead a vigilante at the Eke Oko community in the Aguata Local Government Area.
The victim, who was on a motorcycle, was putting on a mobile police T-shirt when the gunmen overtook and shot him dead.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Toochukwu Ikenga, said policemen recovered the victim’s lifeless body.
“Preliminary information shows that the yet-to-be-identified victim is not a member of the Nigeria Police Force,” he added.
Gunmen also stormed the Idemili North LGA secretariat in Ogidi on the same night and set ablaze the secretariat office and a magistrate’s court on the council premises.
Sources said the hoodlums burnt all files and property in the secretariat.
Over 32 vehicles parked inside the secretariat were also reportedly razed.
The police spokesman, Ikenga, attributed the incident to unidentified arsonists.
It was gathered that the gunmen proceeded to the Ogidi district office of the EEDC, not far from the secretariat and set it ablaze.
Our correspondent learnt that about 32 utility and operational vehicles were burnt during the incident, including other assets and equipment on the premises.
It was also gathered that having gained access to the office complex by pulling down part of the wall, the criminals attacked a security guard manning the office.
They reportedly inflicted machete cuts on the guard’s head, leg and arm, as they demanded his gun, while his other colleagues ran for their lives.
Confirming the incident, the Head, Corporate Communications, EEDC, Mr Emeka Ezeh, expressed displeasure that efforts made to reach the Anambra State Fire Service did not yield any positive result.
Ezeh said members of staff who were on ground were helpless, as they watched the office building and other assets go up in flames.
He said, “It later took the intervention of the Commissioner for Utilities, Mr Julius Chukwuemeka, around 9.05am to bring the fire service team down to the scene of the incident.
“This is a big loss to EEDC, and a great setback to the efforts being made by the company to strengthen its network and improve the quality of service to its customers within Ogidi and Anambra State at large.”
In another development, a group of gunmen kidnapped a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Dr Okechukwu Okoye.
The lawmaker, popularly known as Okey Di Okay, was kidnapped late on Sunday while driving in his Sienna car.
Confirming the incident, the police spokesman, Ikenga, said the lawmaker’s black Sienna bus, which he was driving before the incident, had been recovered, adding that the command had launched a manhunt for the kidnappers with the aim of rescuing him.
In another separate attack, a group of hoodlums, wielding weapons, including guns, opened fire on a military checkpoint at the 3-3 Estate in Nkwelle Ezunaka, near Onitsha.
The soldiers were said to have retaliated, as a gun battle ensued thereafter.
Two soldiers died in the shootout.
According to sources, the shooting started around 10pm on Sunday and lasted till early Monday, with bullets flying in the air and dropping on rooftops.
A resident, who did not want her name mentioned, said the neighbourhood was scared throughout the night as gunshots rent the air.
She said, “Yesterday night at housing estate gate, unknown gunmen attacked the military men securing us. There was three hours of gunfire. My estate was hot from 10pm to 12am.”
It was learnt that the gunmen also visited the Government Reserved Area in Onitsha, where they shot intermittently.
Also confirming the incident, Ikenga said, “Information before me shows that on May 15, 2022, around 9.30pm, there was a shooting incident along the Onitsha-Otuocha Road by 3-3 area.
“The command, on receipt of the information, quickly deployed personnel in the area and operations are still ongoing.”
Meanwhile, the police have killed two gunmen said to be enforcing the sit-at-home in the state.
The incident happened along the Umunze Road, Orumba South LGA with the operational vehicle of the hoodlums recovered.
Confirming the development, Ikenga said, “The Anambra State Command operatives on a crime prevention patrol in the early hours of today, May 16, 2022, along Umunze Road, Orumba South LGA, engaged gunmen allegedly enforcing sit-at-home in Anambra State.
“The operatives neutralised two of the miscreants and recovered a white Toyota Hiace bus with no number plate.
“Further details show that these miscreants were obstructing the movement of innocent road users going for their businesses. The hoodlums forcefully collected their motorbikes and tricycles, chased away the passengers and set the motorcycles and tricycles ablaze.
“Meanwhile, the police have intensified efforts towards prevention of crimes and normalcy has returned.”