A security team made up of officials of the Nigerian Army, the police and the State Security Service (SSS) has raided the headquarters of the Eastern security Network (ESN), the militant arm of the outlawed pro-Biafra group, IPOB.
At least 11 people were killed in the ensuing battle including four security operatives and a man described as the second in command of the ESN, an official said.
According to a statement by the army spokesperson, Mohammed Yerima, the second in command of the ESN, whose name was given as Ikonson Commander, was killed in the gun battle with the security team. Six other ESN commanders were also killed, he said.
The statement also said sophisticated weapons and operational vehicles of the ESN were also recovered.
The latest development is coming on the heels of attacks on police officers and police facilities, lately, in the South-east and South-south regions, which has compounded the security challenges in the two regions.
Apart from more than a decade of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east, several states in Nigeria have been struggling with kidnapping for ransom, banditry, frequent clashes between farmers and herders, and inter-communal conflicts.
Due to the repeated attacks on security outfits in the two regions, the governors and heads of security agencies in the five states in the South-east had a regional summit on security, where they agreed to establish a joint security outfit to check the insecurity in the region.
IPOB, a pro-Biafra group, has been accused of being responsible for some of the attacks against the police in the South-east, but the group has denied any involvement.
According to the statement by the army, some of the terrorists who were arrested during the raid have confessed their complicity in the various attacks in the regions.
It also stated that one army officer and three police men lost their lives in the process.
Read full statement from the Army:
SECURITY FORCES BUST IPOB/ESN OPERATIONAL HQ, NEUTRALISE IPOB’S NO2 MAN
A combined team of security forces led by troops of the Nigerian Army have raided the operational Headquarters of the IPOB/ESN terrorists in Awomama Village, Oru East LGA of Imo State.
The early morning raid by troops of Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) was launched in the early hours of Saturday 24 April, 2021, following a detailed intelligence report on the location of the terrorists’ Operational Headquarters and the movement of the overall Commander popularly known as Ikonson Commander.
The IRT and DSS teams along with troops of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army have been on the trail of the terror group since the unfortunate attacks on the Imo State Police Command and the Owerri Correctional Center on 5 April 2021.
The said Ikonson Commander who was the mastermind of those attacks in addition to multiple attacks in the South East and South South regions, was neutralised along with 6 of his top Commanders.
The joint intelligence team had earlier interviewed several arrested IPOB/ESN terrorists in connection with the April 5 attacks and they all confessed that Ikonson Commander who was named as Vice President by their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, was the one that mobilized men and resources as well as ordered and orchestrated the attacks on Owerri.
They equally revealed that Ikonson was responsible for many other attacks on Police stations across the two geo-political zones.
The intelligence team later tracked the IPOB/ESN top leader to his exact location in Awomama village where he (Ikonson) and his to Commanders were hibernating and plotting dastardly acts against the Nigerian state.
On noticing the presence of the joint operations team, IPOB/ESN terrorists brought heavy volume of fire on the raiding team who swiftly responded and overwhelmed them with superior fire power that neutralised Ikonson and six of his top Commanders. Sadly however, a Second Lieutenant and three IRT operatives paid the supreme price in the fire fight that ensued. The four officers who fought gallantly have already been evacuated to a military facility in Owerri.
So far, 3 AK 47 riffles, a Toyota Sienna van belonging to the terrorists and several other items of value including drugs suspected to be psychotropic substances were recovered and are being processed by the intelligence team to assist in further investigations and operations in the area. The joint security team is already dominating the general area while preparations for further operations are in top gear.
The neutralised Ikonson Commander had in several occasions posed for photographs with the fugitive leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru has commended the troops, the Police IRT and DSS operatives for their determination in ensuring that the operation was a success. He prayed for the repose of the souls of the gallant officers who lost their lives in the operation, stressing that their sacrifice will never be in vain.
The Nigerian Army along with other security agencies will sustain intelligence-based kinetic operations in the South East and South South until the regions are free of terrorist activities.
Director Army Public Relations
24 April, 2021
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