…JTF  kills 3, arrests 5, recovers firearms in state

By Wilson Okereke, Afikpo


•The criminal hideout

Izzi and Ohaukwu local government areas of Ebonyi State have suddenly become hunting grounds for gunmen who have continued to unleash mayhem on security agents and residents of the areas, leaving death, sorrow and tears as their trademark. The attacks and killings by the gunmen have also led to loss of properties worth millions of naira.

The two local government areas have been under attack by the hoodlums. None of them has been apprehended since November last year when they started terrorizing the area.


On January 15, a female vigilance member in Ohaukwu, Mrs. Blessing Onwe Onana,  was killed when the gunmen attacked the Ngboejeogu Central Security Vigilante  in the area. Chairman of the local government area, Ikechukwu Odono, who confirmed the attack, said the assault also left one of the security agents injured.


Since last year, gunmen have been attacking and killing vigilantes in the area and burning their operational vehicles. The gunmen had attacked the residence of the commander of Neighbourhood Security outfit in the area in October last year and destroyed three vehicles in his  compound.

•Augustina Ogbodo, Ebonyi CP                        •Odono

The commander narrowly escaped death during the raid on his compound. Odono lamented that security personnel in Ohaukwu have been severally battered, humiliated, abused and murdered by gunmen.

“We are saddened by the cruel and bloody invasion of faceless gunmen on the office of Ngboejeogu Central Security at Ngbo Court. The attack claimed the life of a security personnel and left one injured. Some properties were destroyed and a motorcycle stolen.

Gov. Nwifuru

“Severally, our security men have been battered, humiliated, abused and murdered gruesomely, which demoralizes the frantic efforts of our vigilantes in safeguarding our localities.

“We mourn and console the families of the departed security agent that lost her life in active duty, the one that is injured, operatives of Ngboejeogu Central Security, Ngboejeogu clan and the entire Ohaukwu.

“Efforts are in top gear by security operatives to ensure the culprits of these heinous crimes are apprehended and brought to justice.

“Our resolve to achieve peace in Ohaukwu LGA can never be undermined by anybody. We urge our people to be vigilant in their environment and report any illegal movement to the nearest police station.

“Ohaukwu is the land of God, and such calamity shall never befall us again. Amen,” he stated.

In February, a few weeks after the attack on the Ngboejeogu Central Security, gunmen attacked a police patrol team along Ngbo-Effium Road and killed one of the policemen.

The gunmen also injured another policeman in the team during the attack. The policeman that was killed was set ablaze.

Acting police public relations officer in the state, DSP Joshua Ukandu, confirmed the attack on the police patrol.

He said: “On 01/02/2024, at about 11:00am, operatives of the command on patrol along Ngbo-Effium Road were attacked by armed hoodlums using an ash Toyota Sienna with registration number unknown.

“The operatives engaged the hoodlums. In the ensuing gun duel, one of the operatives was fatally wounded, while one is currently receiving medical treatment at the hospital.

“The Commissioner of Police, Ebonyi State Police Command, Augustina Ogbodo, immediately dispatched tactical teams of the command to the scene, who are on the trail of the hoodlums. Meanwhile, calm and normalcy have been restored to the area.

‘”The CP is using this medium to call on well-meaning individuals of the state to avail the command with information that can lead to the arrest of the fleeing hoodlums, while assuring them of the command’s unwavering commitment to the protection of lives and properties in the state.”

In  the same February, gunmen  killed a point on sale (PoS) operator, Louis Enoshi, in Ohaukwu LGA. The incident occurred in the evening in Ezzamgbo in the local government area.

The gunmen had stormed Enoshi’s residence in Ezzamgbo and demanded cash. In the process, he was shot dead and the hoodlums made away with the cash, his phone and POS machine. The deceased had a pregnant wife and two kids.

On March 10, one person was  killed and several vehicles burnt when gunmen attacked a hotel in the Ezzamgbo axis of the local government. The hotel was allegedly owned by the chairman of the council, Ikechukwu Odono.

The gunmen stormed the hotel in the wee hours that Sunday and shot for several hours. Some of the burnt vehicles belonged to Odono and some guests that lodged in the hotel.

Ukandu, who confirmed the attack, told Daily Sun that police had swung into action, to unravel those behind the attack.

In Izzi LGA, where Governor Francis Nwifuru hails from, gunmen have been having a field day, killing and maiming residents.

Last December, hoodlums killed three vigilantes in the area. The gunmen struck in Iboko and killed three and inflicted varying degrees of injuries on others.

In February, gunmen killed four vigilantes in the area. The incident, which also occurred in Iboko community, caused panic. A resident of the area,  who did not want his name in print, said the gunmen disguised as natives of the area, stopped at strategic locations in the community and bought food items before unleashing mayhem.

According to him, no few than over 500 Ebonyi women in the area, comprising traders and school pupils, scampered for safety during the attack and abandoned their wares.

“The unknown gunmen first stopped at a popular filling station at Iboko and filled their vehicles with fuel before gunning down two persons there.

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“They moved to where Ebubeagu operatives (now called Neighbourhood Vigilante) were and opened fire on them, killing one Fredrick Idike and another person.

“They equally used an axe to hack two of the vigilantes, who have been deposited at the mortuary.

“It was Iboko market day and the ugly incident made the traders to start running for safety. The whole market was deserted yesterday because of the attack,” the resident said.

When contacted, the state’s acting police public relations officer, Ukandu, confirmed the incident.

“Yes, the incident happened on Tuesday. Two lives were lost. We are still investigating it,” he told Daily Sun.

The gunmen  killed three policemen at a security checkpoint on Egugwu Agbaja/Hilltop/Nwofe Road in the local government.

The policemen were killed at the checkpoint in front of a gas station near a bridge on the outskirts of Abakaliki. The road leads to Governor Nwifuru’s country home, Oferekpe Agbaja Nwofe.

The gunmen struck again at the checkpoint and killed policemen and two girls said to have visited the policemen on duty. This incident occurred at about 5am.

There were different accounts about the incident. While some said the policemen and the girls were having fun when the gunmen struck and killed them, some said that the girls were returning from a night club when stray bullets hit them and they died.

Ukandu said  tactical teams of the state police command were trailing the gunmen. He said:  “Today, 08/03/2024 at about 05:00am, operatives of the command who were posted to duty at Hilltop stop-and-search/pin-down point along Nwofe Road, on the outskirts of Abakaliki, were attacked by armed hoodlums who shot sporadically at the operatives.

“The operatives engaged the hoodlums in a fierce gun duel, and in the ensuing gun battle the hoodlums scampered and abandoned a pump-action rifle, which was recovered. However, four of the operatives paid the supreme price, while two civilians were caught in the crossfire and killed.

“The Commissioner of Police Ebonyi State Police Command, Augustina Ogbodo, swiftly dispatched tactical teams of the command to the scene, who are on the trail of the fleeing hoodlums.

“She is using this medium to call on the good citizens of the state to provide the command with valuable information that could help apprehend the fleeing hoodlums and assured that the command remains steadfastly dedicated to safeguarding lives and properties in the state.”

Meanwhile, Nwifuru, who was  visibly angry over the attacks and killings in some parts of the state, banned vehicles with tented glass and sirens.

He said the action was to ensure protection of lives and properties of the people. The pronouncement by the governor received public outcry, especially by those using such vehicles

But the governor, who spoke during a church service at the Government House chapel, Centenary City, Abakaliki, said he had to act fast.

“I am delighted to speak to you, even though it is quite unusual on a Sunday morning. But this is because a lot of things happened in the previous week and, consequently, government made a proclamation.

“I sincerely apologize because proper consultation was not made, but we had to act, given the nature of what happened. The instruction or directive of government is for the benefit of all.

“You may recall that, earlier in January this year, at Ebya bridge, a security checkpoint was attacked and we lost four police officers. The day before yesterday, on 8th of March, 2024, another unfortunate incident happened in the same area and four police officers were killed with two women, around 5am.

“When I interacted with some of the law enforcement agencies, they categorically informed me that those people came in tinted glass vehicles – one Lexus 350 and Sienna and these vehicles had no number plates. The criminals overpowered them because they were well equipped.

“The police officers were taken unawares. Since we are a government, and we have this responsibility to protect lives and properties, whatever immediate actions we need to take to salvage what we have seen, we will do it.

“Sometimes, I do ask questions on the essence of tinted vehicles. When I was Speaker, I did not see any reason why I should tint my vehicles. I directed all my drivers to remove them because I did not like it. I subscribed for people to vote for me and they voted, so why should I hide myself from them?

“As Speaker, I was authorized by law to go with tinted vehicles, but I did not see any reason for that, and no one ever attacked me. Throughout my time as Speaker, I used my cars ‘un-tinted’ because I am supposed to stop and greet people, or at least wave my hand and my people appreciated it. This is the responsibility I carry as a leader,” he stated.

The governor said the incidents were happening in the state because some government officials were not alive to their responsibilities and he vowed that the gunmen would be apprehended.

“These incidences are happening because some of our government officials are not active. And people are seeing it that the leader of the government is lazy, because no one is receiving credible intelligence. I am not happy over that.

“I have given marching orders to the three local government chairmen, coordinators and special assistants to the governor on internal security of those local government areas. We will apprehend the hoodlums and they will face the full wrath of the law,” Nwifuru said.

Following the killings, the governor convened a security council meeting and ordered security agencies to set up a joint task force to end the menace. 

Briefing newsmen shortly after the meeting at the Old Government House, Abakaliki, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Grace Umezurike, said the governor’s directive to the security agencies to set up a joint task force was hinged on the recent attacks by hoodlums in the state.

“The governor expressed concern over the incessant insecurity in the state, with particular reference to the incidents at Hilltop Road and Ohaukwu LGA.

“The council resolved that there should be a joint task force drawn from all the security agencies operating in the state,” she stated.

She also disclosed that the council resolved that all aides working with local government chairmen would be profiled with a view to finding out information about them, including what they are doing for their respective council areas.

According to the SSG, the security chiefs assured that they would intensify efforts to fish out the hoodlums.

In a related development, police and sister security agencies in Ebonyi State have killed three suspected gunmen and arrested five of them.

The security agencies killed the gunmen  when they invaded their camp in a forest in Izzi local government area of the state during a joint operation.

This was contained in a statement signed by Ukandu. He noted that the security agencies carried out the joint operation on Thursday following credible intelligence.

“The hoodlums on sighting the operatives opened fire on them. In the ensuing gun duel three members of the proscribed group were neutralized, five were arrested while others escaped.

“Sienna Vehicles snatched from different individuals and used by the hoodlums to perpetrate heinous crimes were recovered at the camp, exhibits recovered at the den indicate that the gang is responsible for the recent attacks and killing of police officers within the state.

“Exhibits recovered in the course of the operation include; one AK47 rifle with 16 rounds of live ammunition

A bag containing 2,000 rounds of live ammunition, a  police warrant card, an  identity card, a  portrait of an unidentified person, one Itel phone and one motorcycle 

“The Commissioner of Police Ebonyi State Command CP Augustina Ogbodo, commended the officers involved in the operation for their gallantry while she assured residents of the state that the command will not relent in its fight against crime, and commitment to the protection of lives and properties in Ebonyi State,” he said.