By Martin Opara

The EndSARS protests that ravaged the entire country recently, aside affecting all aspects of our socio-economic structure, has become an ill wind that is blowing no one good, as a cross section of Imo people have continued to lament and count their loses.

Residents and indigenes of Orlu, are not left out, as some of them have lamented over their inability to locate some of their loved ones who left home last Friday and have not been seen dead or alive since then.

Reports available at our news desk allege that soldiers, last Friday, went to the “Evening” market at Ebeneator, Umuna, Orlu and allegedly opened fire on traders and their customers.

Some lucky survivors of the despicable incident who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity, said, “in the midst of the sporadic shooting, by security operatives there was a stampede as people ran helter, skelter. Many people sustained various degrees of injuries, while others died instantly as a result of bullet wounds. Those who died were hurriedly carried away by the security operatives while those who sustained injuries were rushed to St. Mary’s Women and Children Hospital, Umuowa, Orlu, for medical attention. Since last Friday till date, some anguished and heart broken parents and relations of those lost their lives in the ugly incident have gone round the state in search of corpses of their loved ones for burial, without success”. 

A man who identified himself as Ief Emma Ebuzoeme, a relation of one of those shot during the incident, told our roving reporter that they have gone round, virtually all the hospitals in the state and did not see their 32 year old brother, who got married two months ago. He said, “my brother was in his shop at the Evening market on that fateful day, when some soldiers stormed the market and started shooting sporadically in all directions. My brother was shot in the process and we have not seen him, dead or alive since then”.

Another person who also pleaded anonymity said they are still searching for their loved ones who went out that day and are yet to return. He, alongside others with similar fate, called on the state government to come to their aid and urge security operatives to release corpses of their loved ones for burial.

Our reporter who visited St. Mary’s Women and Children Hospital, Umuowa, confirmed that about 15 people were admitted there, though two of them died days after”.

He commended the management and staff of the hospital for their humane disposition and effort in saving most of the victims who would have died, if not for their intervention and prompt assistance.

The source further stated that, “Orlu would have recorded more deaths, if not for the commitment, dedication and selflessness of the Management and Staff of St. Mary’s Hospital, Umuowa, that rose to the occasion, without even asking for the payment of deposit, unlike other hospitals, who aside creating artificial bottle necks, reject victims of gun shot wounds. Besides, Imo State University Teaching Hospital, (IMSUTH) Orlu, that would have also come to the rescue of the victims was locked as a result of the on-going strike”.

The source who is a Councilor and community leader in Orlu L.G.A, used the opportunity to call on other hospitals in the state, to jettison the anti people policy of rejecting and denying people with bullet wounds urgent attention, because, not all of them are criminals. Some may be victims of hoodlums.”