The Ebonyi Police Command has confirmed that Afikpo town was on Friday invaded by suspected militants.
Mr George Okafor, the command’s Public Relations Officer disclosed this on Saturday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), saying that that the militants came from Ikoro-uko area of Cross River.
He said the militants were about 20 in number and they came in two speed boats fitted with several general Purpose Machine guns and also possessed grenades among other sophisticated weapons.
“We feel they are militants reacting to the Federal Government’s revocation of the pipeline facilities protection contract, hitherto handled by ex-militants.
“They anchored at Okporikpo beach in Afikpo before launching their onslaught from the Ndibe and then Unwana beaches in the town,” he said.
Okafor said that the indigenes residing around the beaches, informed the police about the militants’ movement, which made the command deploy officers around the beach areas for maximum protection.
“The militants on noticing that the police have cordoned the entire areas, started shooting sporadically, which made us ‘return fire’ and eventually repelled them.
“An inspector of police died during the shootout, but we cannot confirm whether they had any casualty because we did not recover any corpse on their side.
“The militants, in frustration that the indigenes informed us of their movements, destroyed several shops around the beaches while setting 10 motorcycles and a police van ablaze,” he said.
He refuted the report that the hoodlums robbed several banks and carted away huge sums of money, saying that they were repelled at the beach areas and prevented from entering the town.
“The Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr Peace Abdallah, personally coordinated security efforts in the town, as more officers have been deployed to the beach areas and entire town, to provide adequate security.
“We want to state that, no policeman was abducted by the hoodlums and can also not confirm the abduction of some people from the affected areas.
“We urge the people to conduct their normal businesses without fear, as the police have provided measures to ensure that the town is not invaded again by criminals.
“The CP has informed the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone six and the Inspector General of Police on the development, as efforts are being made to arrest the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” he said.
Okafor also said that there was no protest by members of the Biafran movement in the state on Friday, as the state remained peaceful.
“The only protest we recorded was from women of Amagu in Ishiagu area of the state, who were protesting the incessant road carnages that have claimed several lives in the area,” he said.
An indigene of Afikpo, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, commended the police for its gallantry but disputed its claims that the hoodlums did not rob banks.
“We saw them escaping with huge sums of money robbed from a new generation bank in the town, as the bank staff can attest to this development,” he said. (NAN)