Fear among northerners living in Owerri, the Imo State capital, has heightened following the killing of eight Niger Republic indigenes (Nigeriens) by members of the banned Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB).
According to reports, the attack occurred on Monday, when the assailants attacked a building at Orogwe, Owerri, occupied by mainly Hausa migrants from Nigeria and the Niger Republic.
The northerners said the building was attacked because IPOB assumed all of them living in the area to be migrants from the North, not knowing that the victims were foreigners. They informed newsmen that they are now afraid for their lives due to the frequent attacks on them by IPOB and its security arm affiliate, Eastern Security Network (ESN).
According to an eyewitness, Abubakar Muhammad, the gunmen had earlier visited the Hausa community at Orogwe on Monday evening, where they interacted with the Hausa people in the area.
He said, “When they came that evening, they were not carrying arms. They exchanged pleasantries with people; we didn’t even know they were gunmen. But in the night, they came back shooting our people. They killed seven people on the spot; eight people were wounded, and one additional person died in the hospital. We buried them the following day (Tuesday)”, he said.
Muhammad, who sells Suya, (roast beef), pointed out that most of the people killed were his colleagues, as well as those dealing in cows. He added that the gunmen had earlier shot at some northern travellers on Sunday. “They opened fire on the bus when they realised that they were northern travellers; many were wounded, while one man also lost his life. A day after that was when they came to attack us at Orogwe. We are now living in fear”, he narrated.
The Sarkin Hausawa of Imo State, Auwal Baba Suleiman, confirmed to newsmen that the eight people from the Niger Republic were killed, and that six injured persons were discharged from hospital on Wednesday. “The attack was on the residence where mainly people who occupy the place are from the Niger Republic. They are doing their business here; this (attack) has been happening for some time. We want the government to take some measures,” he said.
The Sarki added that the gunmen cut the head of one of the victims and went away with it.
Meanwhile, the Imo State Police Command’s spokesman, CSP Mike Abattam, in a statement, confirmed that seven people were killed in the attack by the IPOB members. According to him, the building belonged to one Sir Chima Ogbuehi, a resident of Lagos. The Police appealed for calm and enjoined the residents to assist them and other security agencies by giving them credible information as well as report any clandestine activities observed in their communities to the nearest Police station.