That Imo State which used to be peaceful and serene has suddenly become a theatre of war, sorrow, tears and blood seems to have been once again confirmed, as gunmen, numbering over fifteen reportedly attempted to gain entrance into the palace of the traditional ruler of Amaifeke ancient kingdom HRH, Eze Dr E.O Okeke where they engaged the joint team of security personnel in front of the monarch’s palace in a sporadic gun duel.
According to a source who pleaded anonymity, in the course of the fierce gun battle which lasted for about three hours, two of the gunmen were shot. One died on the spot while the other who tried to escape with bullet wound later fell on the road while running and also died.
It was gathered that Eze Dr E.C Okeke, Eze Udo II of Amaifeke Ancient Kingdom who doubles as Chairman of Imo State Traditional Institution and Community Policing came home to celebrate the Christmas and New Year with his subjects.
He was also said to have attended the New Year thanksgiving service at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Amaifeke, Orlu LGA after which he went back to his palace.
The source also hinted that the Monarch has for some time now, been faced with threats from anonymous persons which led to taking temporarily measures to ensure his safety.
This is happening barely few three months after a human rights lawyer, Mr Darlington Oduma popularly called Omekagu was shot dead within the same Amaifeke area by gunmen who were said to have trailed him from his office to a place he went to make photocopies in the vicinity after close of work.
Two suspects have been arrested in connection with his death and arraigned recently.
The latest development is said to have sent shivers down the spines of indigenes of the area who are yet to recover from the shock of previous persistent attacks by yet to be identified gunmen who seem to have sworn to hold residents of Orlu town and other parts of Orlu zone hostage and keep them in perpetual suspense.
Some of the residents who spoke to this reporter expressed disappointment that the government which primary responsibility is to ensure protection of lives and property seems to have been overwhelmed by activities of these unknown gunmen.
According to them, “If the palace of HRH, Eze Okeke who is in charge of community policing with a retinue of security aides could be attacked in such a vicious manner for three hours, it means that the hoodlums and bandits have become more daring, hence the fate of the defenseless poor masses hangs in the balance. This is a terrible and frightening situation that requires urgent attention.”
However, the Imo State Police Command, in a release signed by its spokesperson, CSP, Mike Abattam, dated January, 3, 2021 and captioned IMO POLICE COMMAND REPELLED ATTACK ON THE PALACE OF EZEIMO, HRH EZE DR E. C. OKEKE, said Sequel to the recent attacks on the palaces of some Traditional Rulers in the state by some unknown gunmen, the Commissioner of Police, Imo State Command, CP Rabiu Hussaini, psc in order to curb this menace deployed the command’s tactical teams to patrol every communities in the state, while closely monitoring the palaces of traditional rulers.
The release further reads,”today, the 3rd of January, 2022 at about 0100hrs, the strategy paid off as the Command’s tactical teams working in synergy with vigilante Group of the area were able to repel the attack/attempt to set the palace of Eze Imo; HRH Eze Dr E. C. Okeke on fire by men suspected to be members of the proscribed IPOB/ESN group at Ezioha Amaifeke in Orlu LGA of Owerri, lmo state.
“The hoodlums, in their numbers besieged the palace of the traditional ruler armed with assorted weapons but were subdued by the superior fire-power of the Command’s tactical teams and in the process one of the hoodlums was neutralised. While others fled into the bush with bullet injuries .
“On searching the body of the neutralised bandit, several charms were seen tied round his waist. Other items also recovered includes:
1. One ID Card
2. One locally made IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICES
3. Five bottles containing fuel
4. Cash of #20,000.00 (twenty thousand naira) only
5. One Pump Action Gun with four live cartridges.
Meanwhile, the command’s tactical teams are presently, combing the bush with a view of arresting the fleeing members of the gang and to recover more arms and other dangerous weapons .
“The Commissioner of Police Imo State, CP Rabiu Hussaini, psc while commending the officers and men of the command for their gallantry, thanked Imolites for their continued support and enjoined them to be wary of persons living within their neighbourhoods. He further advice Imolites to report any person / persons seen with bullet wounds to the nearest police station or call the command’s emergency numbers 08034773600 or 08098880197”.