from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE killing of six soldiers and four police officers in southern Nigeria is the latest in a series of ghastly incidents highlighting the escalating insecurity in Africa’s most populous country.
The uniformed personnel have been killed in Oyigbo in the oil-rich and volatile Rivers State, allegedly at the hands of militants demanding the region’s autonomy from Nigeria.
The Indigenous Peoples Organisations of Biafra (IPOB), proscribed by the government as a terrorist organisation, is alleged to be behind the killings which come in the aftermath of the #End SRAS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) protests.
An undisclosed number of courts, police stations and vehicles were burnt and weapons looted from slain security personnel during the attacks in Oyigbo, as confirmed on Monday.
A spokesperson of the Nigerian Army said the military had intensified the search for the perpetrators.
Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the IPOB has been implicated.
The army, according to insiders, is in possession of audio and video clips whereby the leadership of IPOB incited members to attack troops, other security personnel and citizens.
Kanu, a British Nigerian, has distanced himself from the allegations.
He has previously been detained for his activism with IPOB, whose main aim is to create an independent state for the people of old Eastern Region of Nigeria through referendum.
IPOB has been active since 2012.
Tensions between the organisation and the state are at an all-time high and in August this year, troops allegedly executed 21 unarmed civilians after disrupting an IPOB meeting in Enugu, also in the south.
Two soldiers were reportedly killed.
In late-September, IPOB was also blamed for the killing of at least two other soldiers during clashes with unidentified gunmen, also in Enugu.
IPOB has denied involvement.
Nyesom Wike, the Rivers governor, warned, “I will not fold my arms and watch criminals destroy my state.”
His government has imposed a curfew in Oyigboa, the town lying 30 kilometers from the state capital city, Port Harcourt.
The state has decided to compensate each family of the killed security personnel with N20 million.
Africa’s biggest country by population, estimated at over 207 million people by Worldometer, Nigeria is beset by violent crime.
The biggest challenge is in the northeast where the Boko Haram has killed more than 30 000 civilians since 2009 when it attempted to create an Islamic state.
In recent weeks, #End SARS protests have gripped Nigeria, in protest of police brutality.
No less than 51 civilians, 11 policemen and seven soldiers have been reportedly killed during the protests.
The government of President Muhammadu Buhari, in power since 2015, has come under international criticism for the heavy-handed response by security forces.
– CAJ News