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A combat aircraft of the Nigerian military paraded the tense Orlu communities in Imo State on Tuesday and today (Wednesday) in a bid to locate and engage operatives of the Eastern Security Network accused of killing soldiers and causing mayhem in the area.
The aircraft caught the attention of the residents, who believed that the aircraft was sent to locate and engage the ESN operatives.
SaharaReporters saw a video of the military aircraft hovering over the area on Tuesday.
“A helicopter has been deployed in Orlu. The military helicopter has been hovering over civilian homes. They should go to the forest and engage the ESN operatives. There is tension everywhere,” a resident, who did not wish to be identified, said.
On Tuesday, the Indigenous People of Biafra accused the Nigerian Army of killing five innocent residents of Okporo in the Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State.
Since last Friday, there has been a crisis in Orlu after a clash between ESN officers and soldiers resulted in the deaths of people. The soldiers reportedly could not arrest any of the ESN operatives who reportedly overpowered the army, reportedly because of their use of traditional powers. The soldiers were said to have withdrawn with one of them being seen in a viral video rescued by some civilians and taken into a private firm for safety from the rampaging ESN operatives.
The security agencies were said to have planned a reprisal. Witnesses reported sporadic shooting while residents took cover to avoid stray bullets. Five persons, including a middle-aged woman, were said to have been killed by stray bullets from guns of the Nigerian Army while some properties were burnt. The soldiers were said to be drawn from the 34 Artillery Brigade in Obinze.
On Tuesday, some elder statesmen in Imo State also condemned the destruction of lives and property in Orlu due to the clash, while asking the government to restore law and order. The stakeholders in a release had demanded justice for those killed by the military, adding that the state governor, Hope Uzodinma, must show leadership at “this critical time”.
The release was signed by Okechukwu Nwanguma, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, Dr Sam Amadi, Fabian Okoye, Stanley Ibe, Dr Walter Duru, Tony Opara, Chidi Igwe and Ogechi Ikeh.