There is confusion over the killing of three youths alleged to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the Mgbowo community in the Awgu local government area of Enugu State by the Nigerian police as residents denied any gun battle in the community.
SaharaReporters reported on Monday that the Enugu State Command of the Nigerian police announced that combined security forces killed three members of the Eastern Security Network of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra who were planning to enforce the “illegal sit-at-home” in the state.
A statement by the Command's Spokesman, Daniel Ndukwe said that the victims were killed in the early hours of Monday, during a gunfight with the security agents.
Ndukwe had said, “Three (3) of the hoodlums, who opened fire on the joint team upon sighting them, were neutralised, while several others escaped with severe degrees of gunshot wounds in the ensuing gunfight," he had said.
However, some residents of the community slammed the police stating there was no shooting in the community, wondering at what point the police and soldiers killed the so-called IPOB combatants.
Speaking with SaharaReporters, they alleged that the youths must have been extrajudicially killed.
The residents noted that the security operatives came to the community, arrested their sons in their houses, and led them out.
“They equally took their photographs and no weapon was recovered in their presence except cutlasses which are normal; you can find cutlasses in any home in any local community in Nigeria,” one of them said.
Another resident added, “Those boys the police claimed that were killed were arrested in their houses in the presence of their families, and taken away alive. I know their families, some related to me. But the boys are so junior to me that I don't even know them in person. If police are saying the boys were neutralised during a gun duel, that sounds fictional from what happened.
"What precipitated the arrest or neutralisation, as the case may be because even the police public relations officer, DSP Daniel Ndukwe shared the pictures of the three boys where they were chained in a room. However, when people started asking questions as his media statement and that of the military contradicted the picture they released, the PPRO deleted all the pictures.
"Information I'm getting from family members of the boys is that the main targeted suspect was not around and police arrested those sleeping in his house which is a family house. That number of swords and guns is suspect.”
“However, whatever their offence the police should do diligent investigation and follow due process of prosecution in the law court.
"And an innocent person should not be punished for another person's offence. There shouldn't be extra-judicial killing at all. I hope the police PPRO knows the meaning of "neutralise". You are a journalist you can ask your colleagues in Enugu because the PPRO started deleting the picture on the platforms he shared it having realised the contradiction. But it was late. Fast fingers have taken the picture already.
“Having stated that the boys were neutralised during a gun duel, why share a picture of the boys alive where they were seemingly being paraded in the middle of the night? I just hope they have not wasted those boys extra-judicially?” another resident said.