Residents of Nworieubi, Mbaitoli Local Government of Imo State have accused Nigerian soldiers of killing innocent people after a group of armed militant youths killed two soldiers in the area.
It all started on Wednesday when some armed youths stormed the Police Station in Nwaorieubi and set the station on fire.
Eyewitnesses reported that one policeman was killed in the process while suspects held at the station were set free.
Expressiveinfo also gathered that the armed group killed two soldiers who were stationed at a popular Check Point at Ubomiri, close to the police station. One of the soldiers, however escaped. Read more here.
This incident reportedly angered officials of the Nigerian Army who mobilized tens of soldiers to the area on reprisal attack.
Eyewitnesses who escaped the scene said that the army took over communities in the LGA and opened fire on residence of Nwaorieubi and its environs, in retaliation for the death of their colleagues.
As at the time of filing this report, residents have confirmed six persons, including women, dead. Many others are still missing.
A resident who spoke to Expressiveinfo under the condition of anonymity said,
“The armed youths who burnt the police station were not from Mbaitoli. They were not protesters. They were from Anambra, and were headed towards Orlu, when they ran into the soldiers they killed at the Check point, before arriving at the police station.
“Those who saw the shooting exchange between the armed youths, confirmed that the bullets of the soldiers were not penetrating them. They were shot but nothing happened.
“Soldiers came here and killed innocent people. They arrested some corpses so no one will ascertain the true number of people killed.”
Reacting to the ugly incident, the Lawmaker representing Mbaitoli/Ikeduru Federal Constituency, Henry Nwawuba, expressed regret over “killings and Arson in Mbaitoli, appeals for restraint from both sides.”
“The orgy of violence arising from clashes between security agencies and protesting youths is a huge setback to the peace, safety and development of Mbaitoli Local Government Area and must be halted immediately.
“While I express deep regret over the loss of innocent civilian lives, I am concerned that the burning down of the Mbatoili Police station, the Police quarters and the Police shopping complex exposes our community to danger as criminal elements may take advantage of this lapse.
“I offer my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives among the protesters and security agencies in this unnecessary circle of violence . This is not a time to inflame passions by circulating unsubstantiated reports but a time to exercise restraint and sober reflection from all sides.
“There are fears about reprisal attacks which are unhelpful in resolving the problems arising from these unfortunate events. You do not put out fire with fire.
“Finally, I appeal to Governments at all levels to redouble their efforts at protecting the rights and dignity of citizens. The excesses of overzealous security outfits which triggered this state of uncertainty have no place in a civilized society. All Nigerians living in a democracy must be guaranteed their fundamental freedoms, free from intimidation by agencies sustained by their taxes.” Nwawuba’s statement read in part.