“Am I an IPOB member? Did they see any mark on me? They have to pay for all these.”
About two people were killed on Saturday when Nigerian troops invaded two communities in South-east of the country.
The two communities are Orsu-Ihiteukwa in Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State and Orsumugho, a community in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State. Both communities share boundaries.
The attack comes barely three weeks after troops invaded Orsu-Ihiteukwa, killing three residents.
The military authorities would later claim the three people killed were members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
In the latest attack, the troops were said to have invaded Orsu-Ihiteukwa again at about 4 a.m., with numerous combatant vans, armoured tankers, and military helicopters.
Residents said the troops were firing shots and detonating bombs, while the helicopters hovered over the communities.
The shootings and bombardments were said to have disrupted a burial ceremony, causing guests to run inside bushes for safety.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the operation was carried out in collaboration with members of Ebubeagu, a security outfit backed by the Imo State Government.
A resident, Ifeanyichukwu Edurumba, 23, was said to have been whisked away from his house at about 12 p.m. and dragged to market in Orsu-Ihiteukwa where he was allegedly killed by the troops.
His uncle’s wife, Ifeoma Onyebuchi, who was staying with him, narrated to PREMIUM TIMES what happened.
“We were inside the house when we heard that army people were coming to the community. So, he (Edurumba) left his poultry farm and ran inside for safety. While we were inside, some people came and knocked on our door. They were a mixture of army people and Ebubeagu members, all in their uniforms.
“They ordered us to open the door when I asked who they were. They quickly broke the door and gained entry. The boy (Edurumba) ran under the bed with some children.
“One of them told us that if we don’t bring the boy, they will kill all of us. I told them the boy is an orphan and the only son of his late parents and that he is a poultry farmer and also an iron bender. I told them he didn’t do anything wrong.
“While I was talking, they went inside the room and dragged the boy out and took him away. They checked the boy’s poultry when they heard his chickens clucking. They later took the boy to Eke-Ututu Market and killed him,” she said.
‘They killed another boy’
Another resident, who said he witnessed the troops’ invasion spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, Sunday.
“They also killed one (other) boy in Orsumoghu, a neighbouring community here. I don’t know his name yet,” he said.
He said he came face-to-face with the troops, while he was going to the market to buy an item, but that he hid from them for fear of being killed.
“They were burning houses and stalls. They used some hammers to break shops and took whatever they liked, such as beverages, and then set the shops ablaze.
“Whenever they (troops) come, they kill whoever they see, burn houses. If you come to this village now, everybody is crying. They have reduced us to rubble,” he said.
Over 30 shops were razed by the troops, according to him.
He said it was disheartening that the Nigerian government would claim to be protecting lives and property, but turned around to order security agencies to kill residents and destroy their sources of livelihoods.
Video clips showing burning shops and motorcycles were being circulated on different WhatsApp groups.
In one of the clips, a victim, Anselem Ohaachosi, whose shop was said to have burnt down, lamented the frequent invasion of the community by troops.
“Yesterday, 17th of September 2022, a gang of Nigerian soldiers came to Eke-Ututu, Orsu-Ihiteukwa, destroyed peoples’ shops, properties (and) lives. They set my shop ablaze,” he said.
Mr Ohaachosi used to sell phones and phone accessories. He said all the items in the shop had been destroyed by the troops.
He said he went into the sales of phone sets because he could not find a job after graduating from Imo State University.
“Look at how they rendered me useless in Orsu-Ihiteukwa. The cost of what they damaged here is nothing less than N10 million. How can I start life afresh?”
Mr Ohaachosi said the troops were shouting, “Say no to IPOB” during the raid.
“Am I an IPOB member? Did they see any mark on me? I graduated from Imo State University and am also a holder of a post-graduate diploma in Education. I am an educationist. They have to pay for all these,” Mr Ohaachosi said.
Another clip showed helicopters hovering in the sky.
In another clip, apparently shot on Sunday, showed people, whose shops were not affected, hurriedly packing their goods out of the shops.
Army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, did not respond to calls and a text message seeking comments from him on the incident.
Amnesty International Nigeria and other organisations have accused the military of extrajudicial killings in the South-east under the guise of fighting IPOB which is leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra.