Tension in Aba as Military Allegedly Kills 11 Persons
By Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo
Palpable fear has gripped residents of the commercial city of Aba in Abia State following the killing of 11 young men by Nigerian troops stationed at Ariaria junction along the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.
A military source said that the dead youths were “gunmen,” who were on their way to attack the soldiers but were ambushed and gunned down following intelligence reports.
The source said that the gunmen numbering about 50 had engaged troops in gun battle at about 8.00 p.m. on Tuesday but 11 of them lost their lives in the encounter while there was no casualty on the side of the soldiers.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has clarified that the young men were not members of its security outfit, the Eastern Security Network (ESN). The Media and Publicity Secretary of the IPOB, Mr. Emma Powerful, alleged that the troops had gathered young men in Aba yesterday night and “executed” them.
Powerful said that no ESN’s camp was anywhere in Abia State was attacked by soldiers.
The Assistant Director of Army Public Relations, 14 Brigade, Ohafia, Captain Ilya Dauda, also stated that there was no army operation at any ESN’s camp.
Dauda confirmed that troops felled some unknown gunmen that attacked them at a checkpoint at Aba.
Some eyewitnesses said that as many as 16 persons, including a soldier, died in the encounter even though the army authorities in Abia have not come out with official figure of casualties.
The Abia State Government had earlier alerted the security agencies and the general public of the presence of hoodlums in Aba, allegedly brought in by the opposition ahead of the by-election for Aba Federal Constituency that is slated to hold on Saturday.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr. John Okiyi Kalu, said that intelligence at the disposal of the state government was passed to security agencies to act on the information.
The security situation in Abia has been deteriorating over the past 48 hours following the killing of three policemen at a checkpoint at Abriba in Ohafia Local Government Area.