Tension is high in Eke community, Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State following the alleged killing of a neighbourhood watch group member by soldiers attached to the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu.
Also allegedly shot dead is a housewife from the same community.
DAILY POST reports that other members of the local security network who survived the said attack are currently in critical condition in their hospital beds, amid severe pains.
One of them had his penis completely shattered.
Mr Ebuka Oke, the deceased, lost his father exactly one month ago.
The Assistant Chief Security Officer of Eke Security Neighbourhood Vigilante Watch, Mr Emeka Anigbo, who also sustained several gunshot injuries, managed to narrate to journalists what transpired.
Anigbo said they were at the 9th Mile Corner on Thursday night where they had gone to felicitate with their colleagues who were being inaugurated as neighbourhood watch members.
He said they suddenly got a distress call that armed robbers blocked the major road leading to the popular Catholic Church Prayer Center (Ugwudinso) and Eke, from Ama breweries.
According to him, on receiving the call, they abandoned the food and drinks they were about to consume and swiftly drove out to confront the criminal elements.
He disclosed that due to heavy traffic gridlock occasioned by the blockage of the road, they could not get to the scene with their vehicle.
“We decided to park our vehicle along the road, and started moving towards the place; while approaching the scene, we figured three armed soldiers who ordered us in a loud voice to stop.
“We obeyed the soldiers and stopped, telling them that we were neighbourhood watch members. At that point, they then asked us to keep coming.
“On approaching where the soldiers were standing, they started firing at us, killing one of our members and the wife of one of those who was inaugurated at 9th Mile. She 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 trigger-happy 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 disclosed in tears.
Going further, 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 the 9th Mile corner that saved my life. It was the police that stopped the soldier, confirming that we are Eke neighbourhood, security guards.”
Efforts to speak with Chinedu Okolo, whose manhood was shattered by the soldiers’ bullets failed, as he could not utter a word to journalists due to severe pain, just as the third victim, Obinna Offor was also seen passing through excruciating pains, while under Oxygen support at the intensive care unit (ICU).
Some natives of the Eke community, who craved anonymity, condemned the conduct of the soldiers in strong terms, describing it as barbaric and callous.
They called for an independent investigation.
When contacted, the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Lieutenant Colonel Jonah Unuakhalu, described as untrue the narrative of the victims.
He said from the available information at the Division’s disposal, the deceased woman was killed by a strange bullet from armed hoodlums who engaged the soldiers in a shootout.
He stated that the troops received a distress call that some criminal elements were operating along Eke Road, and they immediately rushed to the scene.
He added that 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 had no information regarding the second deceased, added that it was in the course of the exchange of fire between the troop and the hoodlums that a strange bullet hit the deceased housewife 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 receiving 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” stressing that the Division is going to carry out proper investigation on the incident, so as to unravel what actually transpired,” he said.
However, a native of the community, who does not want his name in print has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to constitute a panel of inquiry to carry out a thorough investigation into the unfortunate incident.
He said the bullet shells recovered from the scene should be subjected to a forensic examination so as to determine their source.
DAILY POST reports that the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu, immediate past Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffery Onyeama, and another chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Barrister Godwin Onwusi are all from the community.