No fewer than 19 security agents have been killed by gunmen in different areas in Imo and Anambra states between March and September 2023, findings by Saturday PUNCH have revealed.
The attacks were carried out without any known prior provocation or exchange of gunfire between the security agents and the gunmen.
It was learnt that of the 19 killings, two police officers were killed in Anambra during an attack on a United States envoy in May.
On September 19, about eight security agents were killed in the Umualumaku community, Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State.
The victims, comprising officers of different security agencies, were in their patrol vehicles when they were killed and their bodies set ablaze by the gunmen.
The Federal Government extended condolences to the families of the slain security agents and vowed to hunt down the gunmen behind the killing.
While the spokesperson for the Imo State Police Command, Henry Okoye, stated that an investigation was ongoing to find the killers, the Indigenous People of Biafra distanced itself from the incident.
In March, three officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were killed in Eke-Isu market in Obiangwu Community, in the Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State.
The NSCDC officers were said to be moving in their vehicle when they were ambushed by their attackers.
In April, five policemen eating at a local restaurant located at Okpala junction in the Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State were killed by gunmen.
The gunmen, who carted away their rifles, also killed a couple whose shop was close to the scene.
Also in April, an inspector, Augustine Ukegbu, was kidnapped and killed by gunmen in the state.
Ukegbu was said to have gone to celebrate Easter with his family at Umuoshike Ogbor in the Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of the state when he was kidnapped from his home at about 11 pm; his body was found abandoned in the bush.
While condemning the killings, the Director-General of the International Institute of Professional Security, Tony Ofoyetan, said the government was being unfair to itself since it refused to act on the known modus operandi of terrorists.
He added, “A rural security programme is different from the ongoing conventional programme. We have advocated long before now, that security agencies should look beyond the presidential, and executive guard and mounting roadblocks in cities and major roads and go into the forest.
“The reason is that when you have people that attack in a guerrilla operational method, what you do then is to identify and trace their base which is where they get their supply and stay. You need to dislodge and disorganise them from their base.
“It is not a mystery or something magical rather, it is that security agencies are not taking the bold step.”
Another security expert, Oladele Fajana, urged residents in the affected areas to “wake up from their slumber” and provide information to the police.
Fajana added, “No one should hide information about ongoing crimes and criminals in their environment because these criminals live among us and have discussions with us. Some people know them and don’t say anything to the security agencies; if people can do this, it will help to reduce crime rates.”