The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra and founder of the Eastern Security Network, Nnamdi Kanu, has called on the members of the ESN to cease fire with the Nigerian military and return to the forests.
Kanu in a post on Wednesday evening noted that based on the intelligence available, the army and the police had withdrawn their operatives from Orlu in Imo State so the ESN should also therefore withdraw.
Since last Friday, Orlu has been embroiled in a crisis with residents, policemen and soldiers reportedly shot dead following a clash between the military and the ESN officials in some communities.
The soldiers could not arrest any of the ESN operatives who reportedly overpowered the army, because of their use of traditional powers.
The soldiers were said to have withdrawn with one of them being seen in a viral video rescued by some civilians and taken into a private firm for safety from the rampaging ESN operatives.
Witnesses reported sporadic shooting as residents took cover to avoid stray bullets.
Five persons, including a middle-aged woman, were said to have been killed by stray bullets from guns of the Nigerian Army while some properties were burnt. The soldiers were said to be drawn from the 34 Artillery Brigade in Obinze.
On Tuesday, some elder statesmen in Imo State also condemned the destruction of lives and property in Orlu due to the clash, while asking the government to restore law and order.
The stakeholders in a release demanded justice for those who were killed by the military, adding that the state governor, Hope Uzodinma, must show leadership at “this critical time”.
On Wednesday evening, IPOB leader, Kanu, stated that intelligence at his disposal stated that the military and the police had agreed to withdraw from the troubled areas.
He said, “Credible intelligence indicates that the army and police reinforcement deployed from Owerri have been ordered to withdraw from Orlu.
“For this reason, I hereby direct the officers and men of the Eastern Security Network to stand down, while remaining vigilant to any Fulani terrorist activity in Biafra land.”
SaharaReporters had reported that a combat aircraft of the Nigerian military paraded the tense Orlu communities on Tuesday and Wednesday in a bid to locate and engage ESN operatives, accused of killing soldiers and causing mayhem in the area.
The aircraft had caught the attention of the residents, who believed that the aircraft was sent to locate and engage the ESN operatives.
SaharaReporters had seen a video of the military aircraft hovering over the area on Tuesday.
“A helicopter has been deployed in Orlu. The military has been hovering over civilian homes. They should go to the forests and engage the ESN operatives. There is tension everywhere,” a resident, who did not wish to be identified, had said.
But Kanu noted that the ESN officials should withdraw, as the military and police had also agreed to withdraw their men.