Great indignation has greeted the alleged murder of a young man in Umunakanu community, Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, by policemen who later labeled him a ‘member’ of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
According to witnesses, police operatives shot the victim, one Chigozie Nwaiwu, in his friend’s welding shop at close range in the presence of many witnesses but later declared him a wanted IPOB member who had been leading attacks on security personnel and facilities in the state.
The owner of the workshop, Uchenna Chukwuanyanwu, popularly known as Son of Iron, who was a childhood friend of the deceased, was also arrested by the police.
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It was gathered that Nwaiwu had visited his bosom friend at his workshop when suddenly a Venza car pulled up in the area and its occupants quickly grabbed the welder and threw him into the car.
According to a source, “They were about to drive off when Nwaiwu asked them why they were taking his friend away. The occupants of the car, who were in mufti, shot him on the forehead, killing him instantly and zoomed off.
“As people gathered to see what had happened, the same car returned and the frightened onlookers took to their heels. The car occupants picked up Nwaiwu’ corpse and dumped it in the car and zoomed off again.”
However, the people were shocked to read a statement by the police, claiming that the late Nwaiwu was a member of IPOB.
According to the statement by the Police spokesperson, Mike Abattam, in Owerri Friday, October 8, 34-year-old Nwaiwu was described as IPOB champion, who played a major role in the killing of Police officers and burning of Police stations in Imo and had long been declared wanted by the police and was arrested following credible information.
It further said the police also killed an IPOB member who joined other members to frustrate the arrest of the kingpin.
The statement read, “The suspect raised the alarm, alerting members of his gang, picked a cutlass and rushed at one of the Police operatives and attempted chopping off his head but was overpowered, disarmed and the cutlass recovered.
“While this was on, the already alerted members who came in their numbers to rescue him engaged the Police in a gun duel and in the process, one of them was neutralised while others escaped with bullet wounds.”
Abattam added that one locally-made double barrel pistol with two expended cartridges; two live cartridges and charms were recovered at the scene, adding that the suspect was presently undergoing interrogation and had made useful statement to the police.
He said the police was collaborating with sister security agencies to arrest other members of the group, especially those that escaped with bullet wounds.
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However, this claim has been widely rejected by the community, who knew the victims and contradicted the police statement. They described the duo as very hardworking young men, who were always mobilising youth in the community to help out widows.
“The community knows who is who and these young boys are some of the best. The one the Police shot at close range is a graduate of a Polytechnic who is looking for a job and keeping busy with helping out at the friend’s shop.
“Our community has been thrown into mourning because of the incident,” a source who craved anonymity said.
Investigations have revealed that the security operatives who came could have come from DSS. Their target was actually one Chidera, an aluminium worker, who owns a shop close to Uchenna’s.
Chigozie was shot to death simply because he insisted to know the reason Uchenna was abducted.
The community is angered by the press release made by the police, labeling Uchenna as the leader of IPOB in Ehime Mbano, which they describe as lies from the pit of hell to justify their actions.
It was gathered that they were rallying round to petition the Inspector General of Police to investigate the extra-judicial killing of Nwaiwu and also to secure the release of Chukwuanyanwu.