Gunmen storm Ebonyi day after Buhari’s arrival

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File photo of gunmen used in illustrating the story

Gunmen suspected to be enforcing a two-day “phantom” sit-at-home order allegedly declared by yet-to-be-identified dissident group in South-East attacked Ebebe Junction in Abakaliki metropolis, Ebonyi.

The attackers, who struck the area about 6:20 a.m on Friday, set a vehicle ablaze while a motorcycle operator escaped death by whiskers.

According to NAN, a resident of the area, Anayo Chukwuemeka, disclosed that the attackers fired several gunshots that got residents panicking and scampering for safety.

Chukwuemeka said: “It happened in a flash. But, when the gunshots died down and we came out, we saw that a vehicle has been burnt beyond recognition.

“The driver of the vehicle who managed to escape told us that the gunmen said they are enforcing the sit-at-home declared in protest of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Ebonyi.

“A motorcycle operator who also escaped the attackers’ gunshots told us that they fired at him but he miraculously dodged the bullets.”

Also speaking on the incident, a shop owner in the area, Simon Onwe, said the attackers came in a vehicle without a number plate, shot sporadically in the air and fled immediately.

“I was still inside my shop because I slept there; I heard the gunshots but I discovered later that they left a vehicle burnt beyond recognition while a motorcycle operator told us that he narrowly escaped their bullets.

“It’s so unfortunate that we witnessed such an ugly incident in this area that is usually very peaceful and sprawling with business activities, especially evening,” he said.

Meanwhile, a combined team of men of the Nigeria Police and the Ebubeagu Eastern Security Outfit, Ebonyi Command have cordoned off the area.

The Ebonyi State Police Public Relations Officer, Loveth Odah, when contacted, said she had yet to get a report of the incident.

“I’m just getting the information from you; I’m not aware of the attack,” Odah said.

Meanwhile, an officer of the command at the scene of the incident said the police had organised a manhunt to apprehend the armed criminals.

However, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist group agitating for the independent state of Biafra had in a statement signed by its media and publicity coordinator, Emma Powerful, said the group had not declared any sit-at-home exercise in the South-East.

Buhari arrived Ebonyi State on Thursday on a two-day state visit.

The President is expected to interface with leaders and stakeholders of the zone.

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