The emergence of the group known euphemistically as Unknown Gunmen has become a key factor in the current surge of insecurity in Nigeria’s South East, parts of South-South, and others. Until they are unmasked and perhaps tamed or persuaded to lay down their arms, the inferno is only going to escalate.
They move with the spirits and kill like the demons they really are! A video that went viral on Sunday showed a band of armed men accost a man driving an SUV in Enugu. In a jiffy, in a commando-like style, they block the driver, drag him out of the vehicle, and pump some bullets into him. As he falls to the ground, the masked men take over the car and zoom off.
A voice could be heard from the videographer or his companion saying in a hushed tone: “It is the Unknown Gunmen! They are killing somebody. They have killed somebody.” All these happened in broad daylight. And just as they are completing the act, a Keke Marwa drives past.
Later, news began to filter through to the effect that the man killed in that swift operation was actually a former Enugu State High Court Judge, Justice Stanley Nnaji.
The killing of the Justice came less than 24 hours after the murder or assassination of a former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak, in neighboring Imo State, also by the UGM
“The security environment in the southeast is worrisome,” an academic and member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, said by phone from Anambra State.
“Since after the civil war, there has never been this kind of fear of the unknown (in the southeast).”
The UGM is the unknown he referred to. There are two schools of thought regarding the real persons behind the UGM, according to the source. One group is those who believe that Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB, and the Eastern Security Network are behind the masks.
The other group, he pointed out, are those who believe that the UGM are terrorists sponsored by a certain tribe”.
“I don’t know where the truth lies and it is worrisome,” the source lamented.
While fingers have always been pointed in the direction of IPOB in most cases of murder and arson, the organization has been vehement in its denial. As usual, when the murder of Gulak was announced on Sunday, some people accused the organization of being responsible.
As usual, its leadership asked the security agencies to look elsewhere.
In a statement issued on Sunday, IPOB said: “We state without equivocation that IPOB knows nothing about the said assassination. In the first place, what threat did the late Gulak constitute to our cause to warrant his elimination? We had nothing in common with him and could not have in any way killed him. “Pointing accusing fingers at IPOB for this barbaric act is only meant to divert attention away from the real masterminds. This is the same way terrorists in security uniform commit various atrocities in the South-East and turn around to blame IPOB for their crimes just to tarnish our global reputation.
“Instead of the security agencies to properly investigate the incident and possible factors, they were swift to accuse IPOB of a crime we know nothing about. Did IPOB have the itinerary of the late Gulak to have waylaid him at the airport?”
As the bloodshed continues in the South East, those living in the region are now in a constant state of fear
The source from Anambra shares an experience he had last week:
“Last week he went to Umuahia from Anambra through Okigwe. As I approached Arondizuogu, I saw a course, which was looking quite fresh (freshly killed or had just died). I spent three days at Umudike and by the time I came back. I got to the spot and the corpse was still there. By this time, it had swollen and even bursting the clothes worn by the man.
“The surprising thing was that people were just passing by. And I asked: does it mean that there is no institution responsible for public health that can come and remove the corpse? Does it mean that the dead man had no relatives? How about the Police?
“When I saw the corpse, I increased my speed because you don’t know if what killed him was still around.”
Commenting on the sit-at-home order that was given by IPOB to the residents, he said that the order was observed: “in the absolute”.
“Not that they are obeying Nnamdi Kanu. They are taking precautions against the so-called Unknown Gunmen,” he said.
So the relevant question that security agencies must ask and provide answers to is: Who are the Unknown Gunmen?
Recently, governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State was quoted as saying that 70 percent of those arrested in connection with the attacks in the state are not from the region. If so, where are they from? He and the security agencies must know something that others do not know.