The Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr Ibrahim Idris, has ordered the immediate recovery of two AK47 riffles and a Berretta pistol allegedly snatched from slain police officers and others by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Nnewi during a protest last week.
The Force Police Public Relations Officer (FPRO), ACP Jimoh Moshood, made this known in Awka Sunday evening while parading 33 suspected members of IPOB the Anambra command arrested.
Moshood said the IG has mandated that a through search be carried out and the snatched weapons recovered, while fleeing members of the group be arrested and prosecuted.
The FPRO said: “On 23rd November, 2018, there was intelligence report that members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) an unlawful terrorist organisation were sighted gathering in their hundreds with dangerous weapons near Teaching Hospital, Owerri Road, Nnewi about to cause disturbance of public peace and public safety in the Nnewi and environs.
“Consequently, police patrol teams led by the Area Commander, Nnewi, ACP Nnanna Oji Ama, mobilised to the scene to prevent them from causing breakdown of law and order and mayhem, and destruction of lives and property.
“The police team, while proceeding to the scene came under ambush from the IPOB members, in the process, a Police Inspector was killed, two (2) other police officers were seriously injured and one police patrol vehicle was set ablaze, and the proscribed IPOB members snatched and carted away two (2) AK47 rifles and one Beretta pistol with ammunition.”
The arrested suspects, who are aged between 17 and 65 years, hail from states in the South-east and Delta State and were accused of engaging in terrorism, despite the proscription of the group last year.
Meanwhile, a loud protest erupted among the suspects when accusations of killing a police inspector and snatching arms was being read to journalists by Moshood.
The suspects said they were mostly traders in Nnewi market who had finished their business for the day and were about to close for the day before they were arrested long after the protesting members of IPOB had left.
One of the suspects, Evangelist Sunday Ilonze, said he and his attendant were arrested in his shop, while trying to close for the day.
“I came back from a burial and didn’t even know what had happened during the day and was ordered by some gun wielding police officers to go into the vehicle, but I refused because I am a law abiding citizen, but they brought me here,” he said.
Most of the suspects cried all through the parade, insisting they were innocent and should not be allowed to suffer for a crime they did not commit.
Moshood however assured them that a thorough investigation would be launched into the matter, and those found guilty would be charged for terrorism.