Soldiers kill vigilante operative, house wife in Enugu community for confronting armed robbers

*They were armed hoodlums, says army 

Panic has gripped the people of Eke Community of Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State, following the alledged killing of a volunteer member of the community’s neighbourhood vigilante and a house wife from the locality by soldiers from the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army Enugu.

This is even as doctors are battling to save the lives of three other operatives of the community’s vigilante group, who were also allegedly shot severally by the soldiers.

It was gathered that the vigilante operatives namely: Mr. Ebuka Oke(deceased); Assistant Chief Security Officer of Eke Security Neighbourhood Vigilante Watch, Mr. Emeka Anigbo; Chinedu Okolo and Obinna Ofor were on their way to combat armed robbers who blocked the major road leading to the popular Catholic Church Prayer Center (Ugwudinso) and Eke, from Ama Breweries on Thursday evening when the soldiers asked them to stop and started shooting them.

Our correspondent learned that while Ebuka Oke was shot dead at close range, Okolo, had his genitals and legs shattered by the soldiers’ bullets with Ofor shot on various parts of his bodies and had been in the intensive care unit in a hospital. 

The development, it was gathered, has thrown the community and its neighbourhood into panic.

One of the them, Anigbo, manged to narrate to newsmen from his hospital bed in a private hospital how the incident happened and how they escaped death from the soldiers.

He said it took the intervention of some policemen to save the rest of them as of the soldiers had shot him severally and even matching on him while he was on the verge of death.

Anigbo, who is the Assistant Chief Security Officer of Eke Security Neighbourhood Vigilante Watch, “We were at 9th Mile Conner on Thursday night where we had gone to felicitate with our colleagues who were being inaugurated as neighborhood watch members. It was there that we got a distressed call that armed robbers blocked the major road leading to the popular Catholic Church Prayer Center (Ugwudinso) and Eke, from Ama breweries.

“On recieving the call, we abandoned the food and drinks we were about consuming, and swiftly drove out with a view to confronting the criminal elements, but due to heavy traffic gridlock occasioned by the blockage of the road, we could not get to the scene with their vehicle”.

He further narrated that they decided to park their vehicle along the road, and started moving towards the place.

While approaching the scene, he continued, they figured three armed soldiers who ordered them in a loud voice to stop. 

Anigbo said they obeyed the soldiers and stopped, and started telling them that they were neighbourhood vigilante watch guards. 

“At that point, we were then asked by the soldiers to keep coming. On approaching where the soldiers were standing, they started firing at us, killing one of our members, Ebuka Oke and the wife of one of those who were inaugurated at 9th Mile, who was on a motorcycle with her husband going back to Eke.

“Despite the fact that we were in our full security uniform and had identified ourselves, the soldiers opened fire on us at a very close range, killing the late Oke, and the woman.

“After shooting me severally, while I was on the ground, one of the soldiers still, notwithstanding seeing my ID card and my uniform, went ahead to shoot me again on the shoulder,” Anigbo said amidst tears.

Anigbo said, “the same soldier kept on matching me on the chest, saying, I will kill you today. In fact, it was the timely arrival of police operatives from 9th Mile Corner that saved my life. It was the policemen that stopped the soldier, confirming that we are Eke neighborhood security guards”.

When contacted, the Deputy Director, Army public relations, 82 Division Nigerian Army, Lieutenant Colonel Jonah Unuakhalu, described the victims as armed hoodlums, saying their narrative was untrue.

The army spokesman also said from the available information in the division’s disposal, the deceased woman was killed by a stray bullet from armed hoodlums who engaged the soldiers in a shootout.

He disclosed that the troops recieved a distress call that some criminal elements were operating along the Eke Road, and they immediately rushed to the scene, on sighting the soldiers the hoodlums opened fire on them, but the security operatives overpowered them, leading to the arrest of one of them, and recovering of two pump Action guns and some live bullets, after some ran into a nearby bush.

The 82 Division spokesman, who said he has no information regarding the second deceased, adding that it was in the course of the exchange of fire between the troops and the hoodlums that a stray bullet hit the deceased house wife who was rushed to the hospital, “but unfortunately, later died.

“So, there is no iota of truth in the information being peddled around that it was soldiers that killed the deceased. Our men only rushed to the scene to salvage the situation, after recieving a distress call.

“It’s unfortunate that the woman died, if not, she would have been in the best position to narrate exactly what happened”, he insisted.

Unuakhalu however disclosed that the division is going to carry out proper investigation on the incident, so as to unravel what actually transpired.

Meanwhile, the people of the community have condmned the unprofessional conducts of the soldiers in strong terms, describing it as barbaric and callous and called for independent Investigation.

They also called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to constitute a panel of inquiry to carry out thorough investigation on the unfortunate incident.

According to them, the panel should subject the bullet shells recovered from the scene to forensic examination so as to determine its source and if found wanted, the soldiers should be prosecuted.

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