The southeastern part of Nigeria, made up of five states, is home to the Ibo people, who are mainly of the Christian faith. It is largely an agrarian zone.
Across the area, there have been repeated reports of unprovoked attacks, by so-called “unknown gunmen”, on usually remote rural communities in the area, leading to scores of internally displaced persons.
Recent checks show that one of such communities is, Umuagwu, a part of Enyiogugu, in Abor-Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, a southeastern state.
This state, in particular, has been the scene of horrendous violence and bloodshed, unleashed by armed men, in which many citizens, young and old, male and female, have been extra-judicially attacked, maimed, and sometimes even killed.
Umuagwu is almost deserted, and is now a shadow of its former peaceful self. Local sources informed that gunmen have attacked the village at least three times, the last one being just over six months ago, in January, 2022.
We learnt that groups of these armed men hide deep in the thick forests, otherwise used mainly as farms by the natives, and strike unsuspecting communities without warning, usually in the dead of night, leaving sorrow, tears, and blood in their wake.
As a result, social and economic activities have grounded to a halt in the place, as dwellers have had to relocate elsewhere, in a hurry, so as not to fall victim to the murderous armed men.
These attacks have been given a religious interpretation, as they have reportedly followed the radical preaching of a firebrand Christian member of the community, Kingsley Chika Ibecheozor, who was said to be very vocal in preaching against the growing violence, carried out by some people he identified within the state.
This reportedly led to the attacks, which ended up with two dead, several houses destroyed, and many injured.
All members of the Ibecheozor family, as well as the Igwe, Onuoha and Mba families, were forced to abandon their country homes to save their lives.
Curiously, the official security agencies are yet to respond to the menace of these unknown gunmen.
It remains to be seen how the natives here, like the Ibecheozors, the Igwes, and the other families, will get closure on this critical matter, as most have abandoned their homesteads and moved elsewhere.