What we know about the military killings of Orlu natives in Imo

Orlu

Yesterday, videos surfaced on the internet showing the Nigerian military in Orlu, Imo releasing live rounds into streets where indigenes are going about with their business caused a public uproar from Nigerians. Properties were set ablaze, some natives had died (reportedly more than five) and others left injured.

Orlu is the operational base of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) security outfit, Eastern Security Network (ESN), similar to other security set ups like Amotekun in the Southwest and the North’s Miyetti Allah. The attack of soldiers on innocent civilians is said to have been a retaliation after members of the ESN engaged them in a shootout last Friday.

In December 2020, leader of the IPOB Nnamdi Kanu launched the ESN to protect the Southeast from killer Fulani herdsmen and tackle criminality. Imo is no stranger to the deadly footprint of herdsmen attack, arbitrarily invading farmlands for their cows to graze, leading to loss of livelihoods to the natives.

While Imo governor Hope Uzodinma has declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Orlu to curb rising insecurity in the area, he has come under criticism for being complicit in the attacks and amenable to the settler movement of the Fulani herdsmen. Fulani herdsmen have been in the conversation for the past few days, arising from comments from Yoruba activist Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, who gave a seven-day ultimatum to Fulani herders in the Ibarapa axis of Oyo to leave the area in the wake of the heightened insecurity in the state.

It sparked heated debates on social media. National President of Miyetti Allah Bello Abdullahi Bodejo, unsurprisingly, said no one can remove herdsmen from the state. All Progressives Congress presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, in a sensible response that shocked Nigerians, disagreed with Bodejo by saying Fulani herdsmen don’t have the right to invade lands that they have no authorisation to.

The situation at the moment is indeed volatile, but one question that hasn’t been raised is where do the victims of the shootings get justice? Accountability has always been a strange concept for the ruling political elite to emulate, from blame shifting to outright denial as we saw during the #ENDSARS protests. But don’t be surprised if the Nigerian army on Twitter, as they are known to do, call what happened in Orlu fake news.

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