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Security Forces Arrest Top IPOB/ESN Member In Southeast Nigeria, As Govt Intensifies Clampdown

Security operatives have arrested a henchman of the proscribed separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Southeast Nigeria weeks after its leader was killed in Imo State.

The Nigerian Army says its soldiers have arrested 48-year-old Awurum Eze, who is said to be amongst the top leaders of the separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra and its militant arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).

The army said in a statement that Eze’s arrest in Abia State, Southeast Nigeria was  part of a series of arrests by Nigeria’s security services of suspected members of the armed group.

Eze, a native of Umoneke Nta, Isiala-Mbano LGA, Imo State, had on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 escaped when operatives of Intelligence Response Team (IRT) stormed his village house in Isiala Mbano where he was hiding. 

Brig-Gen Mohammed Yerima, Director of Army Public Relations said in the statement that Eze was apprehended on Wednesday, May 12, in Aba, following an intensive manhunt launched towards tracing and apprehending him. 

Eze has been on the wanted list of security agents for more than three months, the Army spokesperson said. According to the statement, many of the arrested IPOB/ESN fighters had earlier mentioned him as their key sponsor, mastermind, and second-in-command to the late Ikonso. 

“Amongst all their leaders in Imo State, only Ikonso and Awurum have direct communication links with Nnamdi Kanu. He can be seen in several photographs posing with the fugitive proscribed separatist group leader, Nnamdi Kanu.”

On Saturday, April 24, the Nigerian military disclosed that Nwokike Anyinayo Andy, alias Ikonso, ESN commander died alongside six ESN fighters during a shootout with a combined force of the Police, Department of State Services and the Nigeria Army at the operational headquarters of IPOB in Awomama Village, Oru East Local Government Area, Imo State.

However, IPOB leaders countered the police account. Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB leader in a live broadcast on Facebook, said there was no gun battle between Ikonso and the Nigerian forces but rather, he was killed in his sleep.

Kanu praised his associate, referring to the slain commander as a freedom fighter who was committed to defending his people.

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