by Femi Owolabi,
Two people suspected to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) were on Thursday morning shot dead by soldiers in Abia state, an eyewitness has told TheCable.
The two men, according to the eyewitness, were shot along Bank Road, a few metres from the government house in Umuahia.
Although TheCable could not establish what led to the incident, the eyewitness said: “The soldiers immediately dumped their bodies inside the army vehicle.
“The incident happened at about 9.30am and it led to panic as people started running for safety and businesses hurriedly shutting down. Banks also closed their gates to customers.”
After learning of the alleged killing, IPOB members were said to have hurriedly made their way to the scene but the soldiers had driven off with corpses.
TheCable understands that the Biafra agitators subsequently marched to the office of Leye Oyebade, the outgoing state commissioner of police, who successfully calmed their frayed nerves.
A guard stationed at the branch of a First Bank in the area told TheCable that after the incident, business immediately closed for the day, as he disallowed customers from entering.
In the Afaraukwu area of Umuahia where IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu resides, it was gathered that residents deserted their homes, leaving behind the IPOB members assigned to watch over Kanu’s house.
Sani Usman, the army’s spokesman, did not return calls placed to his phone, and text messages seeking explanation on the alleged killing of the two men were not replied.
CHRONOLOGY OF UNEASE IN ABIA, RIVERS
The deployment of soldiers to Aba and Umuahia has in the past few days escalated tensions between security forces and IPOB members.
On Wednesday, a viral video had shown soldiers torturing men believed to be members of the IPOB along the Aba-Umuahia road.
The police station in Ariaria was early on Thursday set ablaze by suspected IPOB members, Geoffrey Ogbonna, the state’s police public relations officer, confirmed.
This happened a day after Zaki Ahmed, Rivers state commissioner of police, announced the killing of a police sergeant at Oyigbo Junction in Port Harcourt.
RETURN TO NORMALCY, PERHAPS
Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia state governor, late on Thursday announced that the Nigerian army has agreed to move its troops out of Aba and Umuahia.
Ikpeazu said the soldiers will evacuate both towns on Friday while warning IPOB members to return to calm just as he sued for peace.
The governor also said he would meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to brainstorm on how to scale back the Operation Python Dance II, a military exercise that has been widely criticised and fingered for the escalation of tension.