Reports have emerged from Imo and Anambra states highlighting the ongoing security challenges posed by the activities of the Independent People of Biafra’s Eastern Security Network (ESN), leading to a wave of arrests and mass migration of residents.
The Imo State Police Command has disclosed that it apprehended over 150 suspected members of the ESN, often referred to as unknown gunmen, between January and August 2023. The detainees were believed to be affiliated with the secessionist group, which has been accused of orchestrating acts of violence in the region.
The unrest has driven a significant number of residents from both Imo and Anambra states to seek refuge in other parts of the country. Even those who had recently migrated to the South-Western region of Nigeria have reportedly been impacted by the ongoing insurgency.
Despite efforts to reach out to the Anambra Police Command for comments, their response remains pending. On the other hand, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Imo State Command, Henry Okoye, acknowledged the impact of the ongoing stop-and-search operations initiated by the Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Barde. This directive has helped to curb the activities of the ESN and IPOB.
Okoye emphasized, “Imo State is now safer than before.” He cited the collaborative efforts with the Department of State Services (DSS) in gathering credible intelligence and dismantling several ESN camps. He further highlighted Governor Hope Uzodinma’s support in securing the state and addressing the entry and exit points that have served as gateways for these criminal elements.
However, despite these security measures, many residents in the affected areas report ongoing disruptions. They note a decrease in market activity and a surge in various forms of criminality, including armed robbery, rape, assassination, and banditry.
In response to the deteriorating security situation, some residents have taken drastic measures, relocating to other regions where they feel safer. A young man named Johnson shared his decision to leave his home in Imo State for Akure in Ondo State, expressing concerns over the escalating violence and the broader atmosphere of instability.
Similarly, young woman Ijeoma revealed that her community in Owerri, Imo State, has been severely impacted by the violence. Markets have become quieter, and businesses are struggling to thrive amid the ongoing threat of attacks by unknown gunmen.
The sentiment is echoed by Chinedu, a resident of Ihiala LGA in Anambra State, who shared how the security situation has disrupted daily life and created a sense of unease among residents. The situation has left many residents in both Imo and Anambra with an uncertain future, yearning for swift intervention to restore peace and security to their communities