•Three security personnel killed
•Property worth several millions burnt
Unknown hoodlums in the early hours of Saturday attacked the country home of Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma in Omuma, Oru East Local Government Area of the state, leaving three security personnel dead and property worth several millions destroyed.
Yesterday’s attack was about the fourth in the state in the last three weeks. The state police command headquarters and the state headquarters of the National Correctional Centre, both in Owerri, the state capital, were attacked on April 5. That was in addition to assaults on other police formations in the state.The assailants on Uzodimma’s home set ablaze several property in the governor’s premises, running into millions of naira, including choice vehicles.
According to an eyewitness account, the attackers, who came in large numbers, wearing black vests, overpowered the security personnel on duty. However, sympathisers and villagers were said to have struggled to extinguish the fire on the governor’s house before the arrival of the state fire service and other security agents at the scene.
Other sources from the community told The Laurels Magazine that the gunmen, who were no fewer than 30, arrived about 8:30am in three vehicles, dressed in black attire and military camouflage. They began a shooting spree in the air before launching their rocket to rip the entrance gate of the governor’s house open, the sources said.
It was also gathered that the hoodlums set two vehicles, including a Rolls Royce belonging to the governor, parked inside the compound, ablaze. In the cause of the attack, an official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), who dared the assailants, was killed instantly.
Although the fire affected only some parts of the building, the governor’s neighbours, who rushed to the scene, were said to have helped in bringing the fire under control before the arrival of fire fighters
A prompt response by a combined team of the military, police, air force, and NSCDC prevented further damage at the governor’s house. But a police sergeant, and another official of the NSCDC lost their lives to the attackers’ gunshots at the popular Mgbidi junction, Onitsha road, while they were trying to escape.
A reliable source from the comunity, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he saw six persons in critical conditions being hurriedly moved out of the governor’s residence but could not confirm their state.
The source said, “These people looked mean, they drove in a large convoy and headed straight to the governor’s house. They threw a bomb, because we heard a loud explosion and some of them went in while some remained outside.
“They were shooting heavily as they made their way into the building, we saw some of them outside carrying second hand tyres, which they used in setting the vehicles outside ablaze.”
Another source, who also did not want his name mentioned, said he felt the gunmen actually came to kill the governor.
He said, “From what I could see from my house, these people are dangerous and I think they came to kill the governor. From the way they were shooting and bombing everywhere, you will think war has started. We were all afraid, we thought they will come for us in our buildings, but they never did until they left.”
Reacting to the incident, the state government attributed the assault to the activities of its detractors.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy Declan Emelumba, in a statement, insisted that the attack on the governor’s house was politically motivated, but he commended the security operatives drafted to save the situation.
Emelumba said, “Gallant security operatives this morning repelled an attack on the Omuma country home of the governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma.
“At 9am today (Saturday) April 24th, a group of hoodlums, numbering about 15, driving in a motorcade of three vehicles, accompanied by a tipper loaded with used tyres, stormed the country home of the governor in Omuma, Oru East LGA, and attempted to burn down the house.
“However, vigilant security operatives attached to the governor’s house successfully repelled the attack and consequently minimised the damage they had planned to unleash
“In the cross fire that ensued, a few casualties were recorded. Preliminary investigation suggests that the foiled attack may have been politically sponsored.
“The government has directed the relevant security agencies to expedite investigation on the incident and promptly apprehend the sponsors and their agents and bring them to justice.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Orlando Ikeokwu (DSP), confirmed the incident. Ikeokwu, however, explained that the hoodlums only attempted to raze the governor’s house but were repelled by the security operatives deployed to the scene
Ikeokwu confirmed the death of three security operatives, saying, “I can confirm the story, the hoodlums attacked the governor’s house by throwing in petrol bomb as a result of which two cars were burnt.”
The PPRO said the attackers were successfully repelled. However, one unarmed personnel of the NSCDC was killed in the process, Ikeokwu said, adding that the hoodlums, while escaping, also killed a Police Sergeant and another NSCDC personnel, both in their private vehicles at Mgbidi junction.
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