Izombe community in Oguta local government area of Imo State, which was engulfed in crisis on Friday, has started to count their losses.
Those who spoke with newsmen yesterday in separate interviews stressed that they incurred great loss as a result of the incident and described it as unwarranted.
It would be recalled that three persons were feared killed including two military personnel and a civilian with more than 70 houses burnt following a squabble among youths that were collecting tolls from oil bunkers.
Our correspondent who visited the area yesterday, reports that some victims were seen standing helplessly in their destroyed buildings beyond repair.
Speaking of the incident, the traditional ruler of Aborsi-Izombe, HRH Eze Pius Muforo called on the Imo State government to thoroughly investigate the main cause of the incident.
His words, “I gathered that one youth and two soldiers were killed.
“It was very condemnable that human lives were lost in the incident and I sincerely sympathize with the families of the dead persons.”
According to him, contrary to reports, his house was spared, but his subjects’ houses were badly affected, adding that he was not happy about this development.
The traditional ruler lamented that over 70 houses, 15 vehicles and 25 motorcycles parked inside were gutted by fire as well as the destruction of economic crops.
“This community has been a peaceful community; we don’t merit the punishment meted on us. All the victims never took part in bunkering business,” he said.
The traditional ruler, who expressed concern over oil bunkering in the area, urged the government to find urgent ways of stopping oil bunkering as well as ways of engaging the teeming youths to deter them from the nefarious activities.
A victim, Ifeanyichukwu Onyeukwu, who described the incident as a “tragedy” and a “big loss”, said the community had never experienced such an attack.
“It was like a war situation. They came here with about 30 Hilux vans and three war tanks. I hid myself in the bush watching from a distance how they threw dynamites into our building.
“We lost everything including clothes, phones, electrical appliances and money.
“Particularly, my cousin lost over N500,000 cash while his wife also lost some amount belonging to a Church group she belonged to,” he claimed.
Onyeukwu further added: “I am not part of the bunkering business going on in the area, but I am surprised that the problem caused by few individuals affected me and virtually everyone in the village.”
He urged Governor Hope Uzodimma to visit the area to ascertain the level of damage caused with a view to assisting them.
Another victim, Victus Nwadikwa, a retired driver with the Court of Appeal, said he and his brothers lost three cars and two buildings to the attack.
“On Friday morning, I left my home to Mbaise, I later received several calls that there was trouble at Izombe and I should not return home.
“I later came on Saturday, to discover that three cars in my compound had been burnt down, my house and that of my brother have been burnt as well.
“We couldn’t save anything from the houses. Now, all my sweat over the years have been turned to rubles,” he lamented.
Nwadikwa, who said since retirement, he only relies on his pension and sales from his farm produce, also appealed to the government to come to his aid.
“I know that a youth and two army officers were killed, but the army overreacted,” he added.
When contacted on phone for comments, the army’s public relations officer (PRO), Capt. Joseph Akubo declined comment.