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#OrluIsBleeding: Nigerian Soldiers Allegedly Open Fire On Civilians In Southeast

Following acts of cruelty linked to IPOB militants, the soldiers in Imo State, Southeast Nigeria, allegedly opened fire on citizens. While some people were said to have been killed, several people sustained injuries on Sunday.

Several people were killed on Sunday, April 17, 2022, as Nigerian soldiers were said to have opened fire on residents at Orlu Local Government Area (LGA) of Imo State, Southeast Nigeria,  witnesses told HumAngle.  

HumAngle was informed that soldiers stormed various communities in the local government in pick-up trucks shortly after nightfall and started shooting sporadically as they searched for suspected Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) agitators causing mayhem in the state.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were killed as of press time, but a source whose neighbour was shot dead by the soldiers said no fewer than four people had been killed in what appears to be a gross violation of fundamental rights.  

“Four people have been killed by the soldiers. They are looking for IPOB members but killing innocent citizens,” he said, pleading anonymity for fear of being attacked. 

Many residents of the local government have also stormed social media, particularly Twitter, with gory images and videos of happenings in Orlu. HumAngle understands that this is not the first time soldiers are launching deadly attacks on Orlu and its environs. It is believed that the local government houses most IPOB agitators and is the epicentre of the group’s activities in Imo.

Declared as a terror group in 2018, IPOB, a separatist organisation is demanding the creation of an independent state of Biafra in the old Eastern Region of Nigeria, comprising the current Southeast and South-South regions. 

It was founded in 2012 by Nnamdi Kanu, who had spoken at gatherings where he threatened Nigerian authorities and called for Biafra’s independence. At various times, he referred to Nigeria as a zoo, urging his loyalists to take up arms against the state.

“We need guns and we need bullets. It’s either Biafra or death,” he said in a 2017 interview. Kanu was arrested and charged with treasonable felony, unlawful possession of arms, and illegal importation of broadcast equipment at a Federal High Court in Abuja in 2015.

He was granted bail on medical grounds in 2017 after spending 18 months in incarceration. He later jumped bail and fled the country, claiming that he feared for his life after security operatives raided his home in a standoff that left some people dead. 

Almost four years later, Kanu was recaptured and he has since June 29, 2021, remained in detention, a development that triggered an attack on residents disobeying a sit-at-home order by IPOB to demand his release. 

HumAngle earlier reported how the violent activities of non-state actors are eclipsing communities and cities in the Southeast. With security deployment and counterattacks, it is looking like the early stages of a full-blown insurgency.

When contacted on Monday, Micheal Abattam confirmed the incident but told HumAngle that he is not authorised to speak on what transpired. “Since the police were not involved in the incident, I can’t speak. The military should speak on what happened there. I don’t work with them.”

Efforts to reach the military were unsuccessful as its spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, did not respond to calls and text messages on the incidents and the number of casualties. 

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Adejumo Kabir

Kabir works at HumAngle as the Editor of Southern Operations. He is interested in community development reporting, human rights, social justice, and press freedom. He was a finalist in the student category of the African Fact-checking Award in 2018, a 2019 recipient of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, and a 2020 recipient of the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award. He was also nominated in the journalism category of The Future Awards Africa in 2020. He has been selected for various fellowships, including the 2020 Civic Media Lab Criminal Justice Reporting Fellowship and 2022 International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) 'In The Name of Religion' Fellowship.

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