ATTACKS ON MONARCHS IN THE SOUTH-EAST: A CAUSE FOR WORRY
There have been unprecedented attacks on Traditional Rulers in the South-East in recent weeks, raising fears and sparking tension amongst residents with kidnappings, killings, lootings, and destruction of property now rampant.
The attacks on these Monarchs come at a time of increased bloodshed in the East following attacks on Police formations, security personnel, and residents by unknown gunmen.
Between February and October 21, no fewer than 255 civilians, including security agents, had been gruesomely killed, while property worth billions of naira, including entire communities, had been destroyed.
The Monday sit-at-home-order, which was emplaced by Separatist Group, IPOB, across biafraland, followed the arrest and detention of its Leader and Founder, Mazi Nnmadi Kanu, also escalated into a series of violence accompanied by killings of defenceless and innocent residents, and destruction of property.
It would be recalled that in 2015, Nnamdi Kanu was first charged and arrested for treason, unlawful possession of arms, and illegal importation of broadcast equipment at a Federal High Court in Abuja in 2015. Fast forward to June 29, 2021, the controversial secessionist was arrested and extradited back to Nigeria.
His arrest led to IPOB declaring a Monday sit-at-home order across the South-East, a directive which grounded economic and business activities in the region.
Several communities in the South-East were on 'Lockdown' every Monday as markets, schools, banks, motor parks, and even worship centres were closed following threats of violence and mayhem perpetrated by IPOB/ESN militants.
During this time, INEC offices, security facilities, and other Government offices were attacked and torched; a passenger was also burnt alive in Nkwogu, Ahiazu Mbaise LGA of Imo State. The bus was commuting from Umuahia, the Abia state capital, when IPOB militants ambushed the vehicle and attacked the commuters.
It would be recalled that in September, heavily armed IPOB Militants disrupted an ongoing junior WAEC exam at Comprehensive Secondary School, Nkume, in Njaba LGA of Imo State.
Going forward, the attacks have skyrocketed, with the onslaughts now seemingly targeted at Traditional rulers in the region.
On Saturday December 11, two Monarchs, Acho Ndukwe of Amagu Ihube and Paul Ogbu of Ihitte Ihube, both in the Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State, were kidnapped by unknown assailants, who also set their palaces and vehicles ablaze.
This was after unknown gunmen killed Edwin Azike, the Traditional ruler of Atta Ancient Kingdom, in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, and dumped his corpse at the Market Square on Friday.
Last Thursday, unknown Gunmen kidnapped Damian Nwaigwe, the Traditional Ruler of Mbutu Kingdom in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State. The Monarch was however rescued 48 hours later by police operatives.
The Traditional Ruler of Achi Mbieri in Owerri, Imo State, Henry Madumere, was kidnapped on November 19, while on his way to a public function at Iho town in the Ikeduru LGA of the State.
It would be recalled that in October, IPOB militants set the palace of the Traditional Ruler of Etekwuru community in the Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State on fire. His private car, a highlander jeep, and other property were also torched during the attack.
Similarly in October, armed men gruesomely attacked the following Monarchs in Imo State; Eze Anayochukwu Durueburuo, the Obi of Okwudor Autonomous Community, and Eze Sampson Osunwa of Ihebineowerre Autonomous Community, and Eze Onyeaka, the Obi of Nkume. The latter was rushed to the hospital but died while others sustained various degrees of gunshot injuries from the assailants.
More attacks on Traditional rulers and palaces in the South-East are highly anticipated during the Yuletide season following Intelligence reports that some criminal elements are plotting an onslaught on Monarchs on Ibiasoegbe in Imo State, Ihiala in Anambra State, Mgbidi in Imo State, Ubuluisiuzor in Anambra State, Nnempi in Imo State, Orlu in Imo State, and Akata in Imo State.
These attacks must not be left uncurtailed because of the damning effect it has on defenceless locals in the South-East. With Government facilities already destroyed, security formations looted and attacked, it is expedient for residents to develop a ‘thick skin’ and begin to do all they can to stay alive.
It is also imperative that residents call for stronger police actions, better protection of traditional institutions, better intelligence gathering from security agents, and an overhaul of the security architecture in the South-Eastern region.