ORLU STREETS DESERTED, BUSINESSES SHUT AS CURFEW BITES

Chris Njoku, Owerri

Businesses in Orlu town in Imo State were paralysed on Wednesday due to the curfew imposed by the government, following days of soldiers/militants clash.

The proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) accused the Army of killing its men of the Eastern Security Network (ESN).

The streets were deserted with several businesses shut.

At least, 10 people were feared dead, according to sources.

Governor Hope Uzodimma on Monday declared a dusk to dawn curfew in nine of the affected council areas.

It was gathered many houses and shops were burnt in reprisal by soldiers, following the alleged killing of one of them.

Last Friday, a policeman was also allegedly killed at Okporo, Orlu by suspected thugs.

Scores were wounded in the ensuing confusion.

According to the state government, “innocent citizens were killed and maimed in the process”.

The 6pm-6am curfew affects Orlu, Orsu, Oru East, Oru West, Ideato North, Ideato South, Njaba, Isu, Nwangele and Nkwerre local government areas of Orlu zone.

Youths under various associations accused two unnamed politicians from Orlu and Okigwe zone as being behind the violence.

President-General of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) Goodluck Ibem, at a briefing, warned against turning Igboland into a war zone.

“The madness is gradually becoming too dangerous to be left unattended to. All parties involved must stop forthwith all mindless display of mafia tendencies.

“Igbo people are highly refined and civilised, hence the shocking surprise of the whole unfortunate incident. We are known for peaceful and progressive conduct in our daily dealings.

“We condemn in the strongest terms, any killings of any Nigeria security operative on legitimate duty.

“We also frown at any unprofessional conduct from any Nigerian security operative that might have helped in fuelling the crisis.

“We are aware that some politicians in Imo State may be sponsoring militant groups operating in Orlu. Our information is that top politicians from Orlu and Okigwe zone are behind the militant group.

“Sadly, they may be doing it to score cheap political points. We use this opportunity to warn them to desist forthwith or we will not only expose them but they will also incur our wrath.”

The coalition comprises Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Wing, Igbo Youths Assembly, Southeast Nigeria Students, Igbo Youths Parliament, National Youth Council Nigeria, Igboezue Youth Front and the Coalition of Southeast Youth Leaders.

Others are the Southern Nigeria Youth Assembly, Southeast Youth for Good Governance, World Igbo Youth Roundtable and the Alliance of Youths Against Crime in Eastern Communities.

IPOB’s spokesman, Emma Powerful, described the killing is alarming, adding that innocent persons were among the victims.

“We have challenged them to come to the bush and meet us there but they are looking for us on the streets and roads,” he said.

The Army is yet to react to the crisis in Orlu.

Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sagir Musa, did not pick his calls or respond to text messages sent to his phone on Monday.