Ahead of today’s sit-at-home order by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), the South East geopolitical zone witnessed another weekend of violence and bloodshed in the once peaceful region.
Former aide to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak, was killed by gunmen along Airport Road, Owerri Imo State, on his way to Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport to board a flight. Thirty villagers were slain in the border town between Ebonyi state and Benue state while another INEC office was burned down in Njaba local government of Imo State.
The late All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain Ahmed Gulak’s death was first made known by his classmate, Dr Umar Ado, in a statement yesterday.
“I just confirmed the sad and gruesome death of my friend and classmate, the former Honourable Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, former Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President and former Special Adviser, Political, to President Goodluck Jonathan, Barrister Ahmed Ali Gulak.
“Barr Gulak was said to have been killed last night by unknown gunmen in Owerri, Imo State.
“May Allah (SWT) forgive his sins, bless his soul and reward his good deeds with Aljannah on the Day of Resurrection. May Allah (SWT) also give all his children, relatives, friends and loved ones the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. And may Allah (SWT) bless us with faithful deaths when it is our turn to die. Ameen. This is one death too many! May God Almighty save our fatherland. Ameen.”
Gulak will be recently remembered for his role during Imo APC governorship primary election where the former governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, accused him of denying his son-in-law the APC gubernatorial ticket. His electoral committee produced Hope Uzodimma as the candidate of APC.
The Imo State Police Command has confirmed Gulak’ death.
Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Bala Alkana, released a statement saying that at about 07:20am yesterday, armed bandits intercepted and attacked a Toyota Camry cab carrying Ahmed Gulak and two others on their way to Sam Mbakwe Airport to catch a flight.
He said: “Ahmed Gulak left his room at Protea hotel without informing the police or sister agencies in view of the fragile security situation in the south east and Imo in particular.”
The PPRO explained that Gulak left without any security escorts and while the cab driver took irregular route to the airport, six armed men who rode in a Toyota Sienna intercepted the car, identified and shot at Ahmed Gulak at around Umueze Obangwu in Ngor-Okpala local government area close to the airport.
According to the PPRO, the commissioner of police , CP. Abutu Yaro, had ordered a discreet investigation into the matter and that tactical and special forces had been deployed to the area.
Expectedly, palpable tension has enveloped Imo State following the gruesome murder of former presidential aide.
Upon getting wind of the incident, residents of the Imo State capital who were attending Sunday worship in different churches started leaving in droves for fear of arrest.
Following the spate of attacks in the state in recent weeks, the police had already arrested over 400 suspects in connection with those attacks, Governor Hope Uzodimma said recently.
A source who pleaded anonymity said whenever there was an incident in Owerri, the police simply swooped on people indiscriminately, whether they had identity cards or not, saying it was the wrong time to stay outdoors.
Information Commissioner, Hon Declan Emelumba told LEADERSHIP that the state government’s reaction would be made by the governor himself, saying everyone should be on standby.
Gulak’s Last Moment With Family, By Younger Brother
Gulak’s younger brother, Alhaji Abubakar Ali Gulak, said his brother’s death was the saddest moment in the history of the family and the entire country. According to him, Gulak died at the age of 61.
Abubakar Ali, who spoke to LEADERSHIP at the Karewa residence of the deceased Gulak, said his late brother visited their family during the last Ramadan fast.
“He was in Yola during the last Ramdan to greet our mother and some family members, promising to come back after the fasting”.
He, however, could not establish the reason for his elder brother’s travel to Owerri without involving any family member.
He said Gulak was a lawyer by profession and a businessman, and that the entire family would miss him as a breadwinner.
Alhaji Bello Ijade, district head of Gulak town and his Duhu counterpart, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi, in their separate interviews said the deceased left behind an aged mother, 11 children and a wife.
Accordance to them, the late Gulak was in Imo on a national assignment, as a participant in the national constitutional review process.
They said the motive behind the killing of the politician is not yet known, even as they urged calm, assuring that the security agencies are working to apprehend his killers.
The late Gulak, they said, was briefly the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2016 and gubernatorial candidate in 2014, but lost out in the primaries.
In 2018, he defected from PDP to the APC. He was the chairman of the APC governorship primaries in Imo state prior to the 2019 general election.
Gulak was consultant to constitutional review committee
LEADERSHIP yesterday learnt that Gulak in Imo State as a consultant to the Senate constitutional review committee sitting in the state.
It was learnt that while other members of the committee left Owerri immediately after sitting last Thursday, Gulak stayed back.
The source who pleaded anonymity said Gulak was a regular visitor at the Imo Government House since Governor Hope Uzodimma took over power.
The Senate committee had held a two-day public sitting at Landmark Events Centre beside Protea Hotel, Owerri, headed by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
While Senators Kalu, Enyinnaya Abaribe, Frank Ibezim, and Hon Miriam Onuoha had left the venue immediately after sittings, Gulak had stayed back.
Perhaps for fear of attacks, the Senate committee did not spend long hours and closed before noon on both days.
Efforts to reach Senator Orji Uzor Kalu were abortive as he didn’t take the phone calls put across to his number.
Further, efforts to get a reaction from the officials of Imo State government were also unsuccessful as the Commissioner for Information, Hon Declan Emelumba said the governor will address the press personally.
His Killers Will Be Brought To Justice – PMB
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed outrage and disgust over what he called “the heinous murder of Adamawa politician Ahmed Gulak in Owerri, Imo State by yet to be identified gunmen.”
Reacting to the development yesterday, the president in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu said: “I’m repulsed by such premeditated and gruesome murder of Gulak by evil people who are determined to undermine the peace, unity and territorial integrity of our country.
“Let me warn, however, that nobody or group of people who engages in such despicable acts should expect to go free. We will deploy all resources at our disposal to ensure that such callous and criminal elements are brought to justice.”
Finally, President Buhari expressed his “deep condolences to the family of the deceased, the people and government of Adamawa State as well as his friends and associates all over the country.
Gulak’s Murder Barbaric, Unwarranted- SGF
In its reaction, the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, expressed deep shock over Gulak’s killing
According to a statement by his media office, he described the killing of Gulak as barbaric and unwarranted.
The SGF called for urgent investigation by appropriate security agenciews to unravel the motive for such gruesome murder.
He expressed his condolences to the APC family, the government and people of Adamawa State and his family, and prayed to God to grant the soul of the departed eternal rest.
We Have Lost A Great Pillar, Says Adamawa APC
The Adamawa chapter of the APC says the party has lost great pillar with the death of Gulak
Mohammad Abdullahi, the party’s caretaker Publicity Secretary, in an interview with LEADERSHIP said the party was thrown into mourning as the news of the death of onetime senatorial candidate from the North zone under the APC.
‘We received news of the death of Ahmad Gulak with shock. We have lost a great pillar, the entire APC family is in mourning mood.
‘We prayed that Allah grant him eternal rest”.
Igbo Think-tank, Nzuko Umunna, Condemns Killing, Commiserates With His Family
An Igbo think-tank group, Nzuko Umunna, yesterday condemned the killing of the Ahmed Gulak on his way to Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri by persons described as bandits by the Nigerian Police.
The organisation also expressed deep shock and sadness at the news of the murder of Gulak.
The Igbo organization, while commiserating with the family of Dr. Gulak and his political associates in both the APC and the PDP, said the memories of Gulak’s outstanding contributions in both the Nigerian political and legislative spheres will be fondly remembered for a long time.
A statement by the organization, jointly signed by its chairman, Media and Communications, Dr. Marcel Mbamalu, and secretary, Mr. Ositadinma Agu, said, “Nzuko Umunna condemns this act of violence as totally reprehensible and yet another extension of the uncontrolled bloodletting in the country.
“Such violent acts are not in the character of Imo people and go totally against the grain of the culture and way of life of the people of the region.
“We strongly condemn this latest bloodletting which again signposts the unacceptable level of insecurity being experienced across various states and regions of the country.
“In particular, Nzuko Umunna decries the growing violence heightened by the region’s militarisation and urges the federal government to remove the chokehold on the region.
“Instead, the government should ensure a return to civic engagement rather than the settlement of disputes through the barrel of the gun.”
We’ve No Hand In Gulak’s Death – IPOB
Meanwhile, IPOB has quickly denied complicity in the killing of Gulak.
In a reaction through its spokesman, Comrade Emma Powerful, IPOB washed its hands clean over the dastardly act, insisting that any attempt to link it to the APC chieftain’s killing would be simply to achieve a predetermined goal of tarnishing the group’s image in the eyes of the international community as “terrorist” group.
IPOB rather described Gulak as an “innocent man”, who never stood on the way against its struggle, so he could not have been attacked by the group.
IPOB statement read, “The attention of IPOB has been drawn to the untenable allegation by the security agencies that IPOB was responsible for the assassination of former presidential aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak.
“We therefore 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 uniforms commit various atrocities in South East and turn around to blame IPOB for their crimes just to tarnish our global reputation.”
Find His Killers, NYCN Tells Imo Governor
Meanwhile, the Northern Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) has called on the Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma to bring Gulak’s killer to Justice or he will be declared a Persona Non Grata in the entire north.
A statement issued and signed by the national president, Isah Abubakar, gave the governor “two weeks to carry out a thorough investigation to unravel the killers or we shall declare him persona-non grata across the entire northern soil”.
“The government of Imo state must give an account of those who killed Gulak. The continuous killings and destruction of security facilities in Imo State will no longer be tolerated. The federal government must rise to its constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and properties and must act appropriately so as to avoid this from being escalated to a civil war.
“The government should take note that we will not allow the killers of Ahmed Gulak to go unpunished. The Imo State governor who is the chief security officer must bring the people involved in this assassination to justice.
“The Imo state governor and other South East governors should take note that we shall not accept the continued killing of Northerners and Northern elite in their region”.
Reps Suspend Zonal Constitution Review Hearing
The House of Representatives’ special committee on constitution review has suspended its zonal public hearing slated for Imo and Abia States, on June 1 and 2, until further notice.
Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, the chairman, House Special Committee on Constitution Review, said this in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja.
Wase said that the committee regretted any inconveniences the suspension might have caused all invited guests, stakeholders and the general public.
The suspension may not be unconnected with the recent insecurity in Imo state which claimed the life of Mr Ahmed Gulak, a former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, reportedly killed by unknown gun men in Owerri on May 30, on his way to the Airport, according to the police.
The zonal constitution review was scheduled to take place in Owerri, the Imo state capital.
Gunmen Kill 30 In Ebonyi
Suspected gunmen numbering over 20 yesterday attacked three Ebonyi communities and killed about 30 persons.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the gunmen invaded Odoke, Ndiobasi and Obakotara communities in Ebonyi local government area, killing the people while several others were wounded
A source in one of the areas told LEADERSHIP that the gunmen hit the three communities at about 3am yesterday, adding that the affected communities share boundaries with Ado local government area of Benue State.
The chairman of Ebonyi local government area, Mrs. Chinyere Nwaogbaga, who confirmed the attacks, said that at the time she visited the area, 11 corpses were seen while many others were still missing.
She said those who sustained injuries were also evacuated to the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, where they are currently receiving treatment.
Mrs. Nwaogbaga said Governor David Umahi had directed that more security personnel and members of EbubeAgu be deployed to the area to ensure the protection of life and property of the people.
Efforts to get the reaction of the police public relations officer, DSP Loverth Odah, on the attacks were unsuccessful as calls to her mobile phone were not answered.
A resident of the area, Uchenna Okpokwu said that the suspected gunmen were herdsmen, saying they attacked the communities with guns and machetes.
According to him, “They came into Ndiobasi village and started slaughtering the people. After slaughtering them, they entered Odoke, from that Odoke, they went to Obapta.
“Presently, people slaughtered in Ndiobasi are up to 30, according to the video clips of the incident but Odoke and Obapta are very far and nobody was able to enter those two villages to capture those that were killed.”
Another resident of the area, Mr. Onyibe Jeremiah, expressed regret that despite the outcry by the community about a possible attack by the suspected herdsmen, no action was taken to protect them.
He said, “One young man from Enugu State that saw the herdsmen when they were coming into the Ebonyi villages made the voice call that went viral to alert the state but it appears that it was ignored, which was why these attacks were recorded despite the alert.”
A medical NGO, the Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT), confirmed that two children were killed while being taken to the hospital for treatment.
It said it had scrambled a team to the area to help in the treatment and evacuation of victims.
Attack Not In Ebonyi, But Benue – CP
However, the Ebonyi State Police Commissioner, CP Aliyu Garba, yesterday said that the suspected herdsmen attack was not carried out in Ebonyi State but in Benue State.
According to a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Loverth Odah, “The attack happened at Nwori Ndobasi and Odoke village In Ado local government area of Benue and not in Ebonyi State as widely reported”.
“Though the area is said to be dominated by Izzi and Ezza language speaking indigenes of Ebonyi State, the fact is that the area is in Benue State and not Ebonyi State.”
CP Garba, however, urged the general public to go about their lawful businesses as the Command had placed adequate security measures to ensure the safety of lives and property.
INEC Office In Njaba LGA Set Ablaze
The attacks on the offices and facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the South East continued yesterday as the INEC office in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State was set ablaze.
LEADERSHIP reports that with the latest incident, the total number of INEC offices attacked nationwide since 2019 has now risen to 42. It is also the eighth INEC office to be attacked in Imo State since the 2019 general election.
INEC national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday in Abuja, said the attack came exactly a week after another INEC office in Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of the State was vandalised.
Okoye said although no life was lost, the building was substantially burnt down, along with electoral materials, office equipment and furniture.
The statement reads in part, “Our Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Imo State, Professor Francis Ezeonu, has reported that our office in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State was set ablaze today (yesterday) Sunday, 30th May, 2021.
“This latest incident has been reported to the Police for investigation.
“INEC buildings, infrastructure and equipment are critical national assets that guarantee the continuity of electoral activities throughout the federation. Attacking these offices is not in the national interest and has the capacity of compromising electoral activities and the credibility of the democratic process.”
South East NASS Members Deplore Killings
The South-East Caucus of the National Assembly (NASS) has pledged their allegiance to a united Nigeria and condemned what it described as the sudden spike in violence and killings in their home region.
The lawmakers said they observed with surprise the sudden spike in violence in the region known for its calm, love and peaceful disposition to visitors, irrespective of tribe and religion.
The group said as leaders and major stakeholders in the region, they had cause always to deploy the instrumentalities of the institution of state to alert the government of Nigeria about some of the vexed issues of injustice, inequity and obvious marginalisation of the South East in the governance structure.
“Nonetheless, we have not lost hope that the authorities will eventually do the right thing for the continued peaceful coexistence of all people in a united Nigeria,” the group said in a statement jointly signed by Sen. Ike Ekweremadu of Enugu State, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe Abia State, Sen. Sam Egwu Ebonyi State, Sen. Frank Ibezim of Imo State and Sen Stella Odua, Anambra State.
Others who signed the statement included: Hon Toby Okechukwu, Enugu; Hon Nkiruka Onyejiocha, Abia; Hon Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu Anambra; Hon Jerry Alagboso, Imo, and Hon Sylvester Ogbaga, Ebonyi.
Police Arrests 50 Biafra Agitators in Enugu
Operatives of the Enugu State Police Command yesterday arrested over 50 Biafra agitators belong to the Barr. Benjamin Onwuka-led Biafra Zionists Movement (BZM)
LEADERSHIP gathered that they were arrested yesterday morning while they were planning to commence Biafra Day parade.
According to the founder of the group, Onwuka, policemen from Ogui Division stormed their meeting venue and whisked his members away.
The self-acclaimed president of Biafra said in a text message he sent out yesterday that “they (policemen) arrested 57 of our members this morning.
“We were preparing to go for our Biafra parade. We are non-violent people, we are peaceful agitators. They should be released immediately, unconditionally, without charge; they committed no crime.
“We have informed the United States of this development,” he claimed.
Onwuka had few days ago announced that they would storm the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, today, for a Biafra parade.