The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Imo State Police Command, yesterday, clashed over allegation by the command that it was IPOB’s armed group, Eastern Security Network, ESN, that attacked traditional rulers, killed two of them and injured one at Njaba local government headquarters during a meeting of the monarchs.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mike Abattam, made this disclosure in a statement to newsmen in Owerri.
However, some aggrieved respondents, who spoke on strict grounds of anonymity, confirmed to newsmen yesterday, that what was on the day’s bill, was a stakeholders meeting called by the council chairman, Emeka Iheanacho and not a traditional rulers meeting.
They described the police claim that they were not notified about the meeting, as “untrue and uncharitable”.
One of the respondents, a native of Ibele community in Umuaka axis of the local government area who attended the meeting was emphatic that “the police was notified about the meeting and a police team was actually sighted at the venue.
His words: “It is sad to hear the police claim that they were not notified about the stakeholders meeting. Almost everyone in attendance saw the Operation Search and Flush team at the venue of the meeting. It would be most unfair to say the Police was not notified.
“They were actually the reason some of the people were emboldened to attend the meeting. They left the Council Headquarters less than an hour after the meeting commenced.
“Just before they eventually left, a number of persons had noticed the Council Chairman, Emeka Iheanacho, arguing with their leader on why he cannot pull out his men after the meeting had already commenced.”
Continuing, the angry villager said: “It was later gathered that they said they were summoned by their Commander to return to Owerri. About an hour or two after the police team left, the hoodlums struck.
“So to say the least, it is offensive for the police to suggest they were not notified about the meeting. And if they were patrolling Njaba like they assured, they obviously would not miss a gathering of that nature.”
Answering another question, the villager reasoned that “the Council Chairman who is still battling to save the lives of the other people who are in critical conditions in the hospital would have had a say about the police claim.”