Across the eastern skies, the sun rises lazily.
Below, its rays signal the birth of dawn and the arrival of another business day.
Soon the markets would open their doors at various commercial nerve centres spread throughout the East to admit sellers and buyers.
It is not the deals, the trade for which the region is known that are making headlines these days.
The spate of destruction across Igboland is gradually building as vultures circle above and men shoot their way through police stations, killing those in uniform.
Electoral institutions have not been spared either. They are being burnt by the day as the situation in the East becomes more confusing.
Now, a new dimension has been added to the events that are playing out.
A highbrow Nigerian politician from the North, Ahmed Gulak who was in the East has been murdered in Imo State.
There are reports that a trailer conveying onions was intercepted by the alleged killers of the former aide of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Gulak, a former legislator was in that State ostensibly at the invitation of the Imo State Government.
Issues arising from existing herders – farmer differences, may have necessitated the visit.
Feelers emerging from the Imo State capital seem to suggest that there were attempts to bridge the gap between the land owners and the herders.
Gulak was killed Saturday evening around Ngo-Okpala. He was on his way to the Sam Mbakwe Airport.
News of Gulak’s death was first broken by his classmate, Dr Umar Ado on Sunday.
“I just confirmed the sad and gruesome death of my friend and classmate, the former Hon. Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, former Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President and former Special Adviser Political to President Goodluck Jonathan, Barr. Ahmadu Ali Gulak.
“Barr Gulak was said to have been killed last night by unknown gunmen in Owerri, Imo State.
“May Allah (SWT) forgive his sins, bless his soul and reward his good deeds with Aljannah on the Day of Resurrection.
“May Allah (SWT) also give all his children, relatives, friends and loved ones, the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. And may Allah (SWT) bless us with faithful deaths when it is our turn to die. Ameen.
Across the country, there were angry reacts, with IPOB denying any involvement while a group of northern youths which said Governor Hope Uzodimma would be held responsible threatened to avenge his death.
In Abuja, the Presidency expressed outrage. Reacting to the development on Sunday, the President said: “I’m repulsed by such premeditated and gruesome murder of Gulak by evil people who are determined to undermine the peace, unity and territorial integrity of our country.
“Let me warn however that nobody or group of people who engages in such despicable acts should expect to go free. We will deploy all resources at our disposal to ensure that such callous and criminal elements are brought to justice.”
Festus Keyamo, SAN, lent his voice via his Twitter handle, “Someone who is angry with his neighbours sets his own house on fire & makes it uninhabitable for his own children, who then take refuge in the neighbours’ houses. But he claims to be fighting to ‘liberate’ his children. This is the madness going on now in a part of this country.
Senator Shehu Sani, obviously angered by claims that unknown persons murdered Gulak reacted, “It’s time to know these unknown Gunmen and take a known action.”
The APC described the death of Gulak as a great loss to the party in a statement, saying his death was sad and painful.
In Owerri where the crime was committed, the Police reacted swiftly, deploying Special forces with clear instructions to get the killers of Gulak.
Operatives drawn from PMF and IRT were called in. So were men from Tactical Units operated by the Imo State Police Command.
The Police trailed the suspects to Afor Enyi-Ogugu where an exchange of gunfire took place.
“On 30/5/2021 Sequel to the killing of Ahmed Gulak by some criminals who suddenly came out to block the Imo Airport road at Obiangwu Junction at Ngor~okpala LGA of Imo state”, a police statement revealed.
It disclosed that “The driver of the vehicle conveying Ahmed Gulak to the Airport was immediately interviewed and he described the vehicles the hoodlums were using as one Toyota Camry 2005 silver colour, Toyota Sienna 1998 model gold colour, Toyota Hilux white colour, Lexus RX 330 gold colour.”
“At Afor Enyi-Ogugu junction in same LGA, the police teams came in contact with the hoodlums with same vehicles mentioned by the driver.
“The hoodlums had already confiscated a trailer loaded with onions from the North and were busy sharing the onions to the local population…”
The Police say the men believed to belong to radical IPOB wings equally took up combative positions while the trailer load of onions was looted.
“The hoodlums on sighting the Police teams immediately opened fire… and the galant teams returned fire and eventually fatally wounded 10 of the hoodlums during the gun battle while others were pursued as they escaped with their vehicles.
“Three of the four vehicles Toyota Sienna, Toyota Hilux and Toyota Camry used by the IPOB/ESN terrorists for their operation were demobilized/recovered and seven of the terrorists with bullet wounds were completely burnt down inside the Toyota Sienna and Hilux vehicles that caught fire during the gun battle.
“Three Ak47 rifles, 1 English Pistol, 5 Ak47 Magazines, 92 Ak47 Amunition, several charms and three operational vehicles of the IPOB/ESN were recovered”, the police statement explained.
Behind the restlessness is the quest for a sovereign nation that its campaigners call Biafra.
The Biafran struggle isn’t anything new. There was a Biafran nation between 1967 and 1970, and a bloody civil war fought by soldiers which brought the secessionist rebellion to its knees.
Efforts are being made to calm frayed nerves as fears that a reprisal attack may be launched by some angry northerners who are as shocked as the people of the South by the murder of Gulak.
As things are, Nigeria appears to be sitting on a keg of gunpowder and many worried by developing events pray that reason would intervene.
In the meantime, dark clouds are gathering over the eastern skies as tension builds and police goes into action in an attempt to arrest the masterminds who may be behind the threat to peace and national unity.
Given what has transpired in the last 48 hours, the police action in Imo is raising hopes that justice may well be done.
“Serious efforts”, the police further revealed, are “in progress to trace and arrest several wounded IPOB/ESN terrorist members who are hiding in the surrounding forest and villages.
“The 3 bodies of the IPOB/ESN Terrorist not burnt down were brought to the Police state Headquarters while efforts to recover the burnt bodies of the hoodlums to the Police state HQ (is) in Progress”, the statement added.
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