The people of Ogwuaniocha community in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State have accused the Anambra State Police Command and the men of the Nigerian Navy in the state command of conniving with a factional group in the community to arrest innocent residents using masked pointers.
The residents claimed that for some weeks now, security operatives have been coming to their houses with masked men at night, who point at them and label them as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and Eastern Security Network.
According to them, many of the villagers who have been labelled IPOB/ESN members by the masked pointers have been whisked away by the security operatives and their whereabouts are yet unknown.
The spokesman of the community, Chief Christopher Obumsele, disclosed this to journalists in a press conference in Onitsha, Anambra State, on Friday.
Obumsele said the latest arrest through the use of the masked pointers was the arrest of a lecturer at Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe, simply identified as Mr. Jude, and three others.
He said, “The security operatives are working with a rival group in our community to suppress us over the Kingship tussle that has torn the community into pieces.
“We are the Odua-in-Council, people of Ogwuaniocha. Our problem is that the Nigerian Navy here in Odekpe/Oniitsha, are working with our opposition group. The opposition act as masked pointers for the Navy, and the Navy will arrest, label us IPOB and ESN members and detain us.
“We no longer go out presently because members of this opposition group are at the military check-points as pointers and whenever our people want to pass through the check-points, the opposition (pointers) that are masked, will point at us and the Naval officers on duty will arrest us.
“Just recently, a US Embassy convoy was attacked at Amiyi, which is not in our community, very far place, but the opposition told the military that we are the IPOB/ESN members that attacked the team and a joint security task force stormed our community, killed one person that was not a member of ESN, set four shops ablaze and a house.
“In our community, because of Igweship crisis that has been lingering for years, there are two warring factions, the Odua-in-Council, that is the entire people in the community, led by the oldest man, and the Oliver-led group.
“We plead with the governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, to come to our rescue by prevailing on the Navy to stop the constant arrest of our people and to release the lecturer, who is not a member of ESN.
“The lecturer was returning from a peace meeting in the community when he was arrested by the Navy through a masked pointer and has been in detention for about two weeks now.”
In his own contribution, a member of the Odua-in-Council, Chief Paul Ijeoma, said that what the opposition wanted was to sack them from the community and take over the entire place.
“They petitioned the government that our community is the base of ESN and that it was from our community that those unknown gunmen came from and attacked and killed the US Embassy convoy, which is false, but they said it was for us to be killed and then they will take over our community.
“Navy should stop arresting us with the help of pointers who they work with. Navy should stop involving itself in community matters, we are not ESN members as they tag us to intimidate and assault us,” Ijeoma stated.
Also, a community chieftain, Chief John Adigwe, confirmed that apart from the lecturer, three others who were arrested by the military masked pointers included, Mr. Ozogo, his brother, and Chief Odua.
He said, “They were returning from a peace meeting when they were arrested through the use of pointers and labelled ESN members. These people arrested have no business with ESN and our community is not a base for ESN as they claimed in their petition to government.
“Our case is Igweship crisis, of which the matter is in court. Governor Soludo, please prevail on the Navy to stop arresting and tagging us ESN in favour of our opposition group. What have we done to the Navy that they should be biased in carrying out their national assignment?
“We plead for the immediate release of our son, the lecturer at Nsugbe College of Education and others that were tagged ESN and detained. We are law-abiding citizens and have been in peace until the Igweship crisis came up. Some who thrive in crisis now use it to cause crisis in the community and label us ESN members.”
When contacted on the development, the state police spokesman, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, said such information was not before the command.
“There is no such information before me, please, the victims of this incident/report should kindly come forward for us to know exactly what happened,” Ikenga added.