By Douglas Okoro
Gunmen, suspected to be armed kidnappers, have killed a member of staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ebonyi.
The victim, Mr Emnanuel Igwe, an assistant electoral officer (AEO), was killed along the Ishiagu axis of the Ishiagu-Mpu Road on Sunday evening while returning from Anambra state.
The wife was also reportedly abducted by the hoodlums.
SP Onome Onovwakpoyeya, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), who confirmed the incident on Monday in Abakaliki, said that a detachment of tactical team from the Command had been sent for a manhunt for the criminals.
“She said: “Yes, there was an attack where one person was shot in the head through the windscreen and nothing was taken from the vehicle and the other victim was a farmer working on his farm whom they cut off the throat.
“So, there is a serious manhunt for the hoodlums or whoever they are,” she said.
Some indigenes of Ishiagu community in Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi resident in Abakaliki, who reacted to the incident in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), called on the police and other security agencies to curb the emerging security challenges along the Ishiagu-Mpu road.
The Youth Leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Damian Okoafor, who confirmed the killing of his father to reporters in Abakaliki on Monday, said suspected herders invaded the community on Sunday and carried out the horrible act.
“Suspected herdsmen attacked Ishiagu community again, killed my father, one other person and abducted one,” he said.
Mr Nicholas Onu, a member of staff of INEC in Abakaliki headquarters, revealed that the slain victim was a colleague, noting that the loss was too much to bear.
He called for the immediate deployment of joint police and military security team to stave off armed kidnapping, robbery and other forms of criminality along the road.
“Mr Emmanuel Igwe was shot and killed by armed kidnappers suspected to be herdsmen while they abducted his wife.
“Latest information from the family has it that the corpse has been evacuated and deposited at a morgue in Abakaliki while the suspects are demanding for a N10 million ransom,” Onu said.
Dr Innocent Mbazu, a lecturer at the Ebonyi State College of Education, Ikwo, who lives in Abakaliki, called for the urgent intervention of the police and other security operatives, describing the situation as ‘unfortunate.’
“There was kidnapping and murder of a motorist and one of our kinsmen in his farm on Sunday along the Ishiagu axis of the Ishiagu-Mpu road.
“Anybody intending to use the road should trade with caution or avoid the road for now if possible. It seems the kidnappers operating along the Amaeze-Awgu expressway have relocated to the Mpu axis.
“Ngwogwo people in Ishiagu are said to be protesting at the moment. May God help us!!,” Mbazu lamented.
Mbazu, the former chairman of the Ishiagu Town Development Union (ITDU) branch, regretted that Ishiagu-Mpu road was the shortest route to access Ishiagu from Abakaliki and pleaded with the security operatives to rid the road of criminal elements.
“The road is the shortest route to access our community from Abakaliki, Calabar and Ogoja and we should not feel unsafe plying the road,” he added.
Mr Ifeanyi Ivoke called on Mr Emnanuel Aja, the Chairman of Ivo Local Government Area, to liaise with his counterpart in Aninri LGA to flush out criminals on the Ishiagu-Mpu road and make it safe for motorists and other road users.
Ivoke, a lecturer in the Department of Architecture, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), who is an indigene of Ishiagu but is resident in Abakaliki, noted that the route used to be the safest in the South-East before now.
He called on security operatives to intervene to save the people plying the road from falling prey or becoming victims of kidnapping and armed robbery attacks.
Mpu community, the home town of Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, former Deputy President of the Senate, is a community in Aninri LGA in Enugu.