Soldiers killings: Aba under lockdown as reprisal continues, residents count losses


Residents of Aba, Abia State are counting losses following the reprisal attacks by soldiers over the killing of five colleagues at Obikabia Junction, Ogbor Hill, Aba, on Thursday, May 30.

Unknown gunmen had attacked the military checkpoint at the junction, killing the soldiers and burning two patrol vans as well as their checkpoint, reports Sunday Vanguard.

Angered by the attack, soldiers stormed Aba and its environs, assaulting and arresting motorists and residents.

The soldiers have continued to raid some areas to make arrests.

This has created fear in most residents who prefer to remain indoors.

The fear was heightened by the presence of two military helicopters which hovered over Aba three days after the incident.

Despite assurances by Gov Alex Otti, urging innocent residents to go about their normal duties without fear of molestation, residents are still afraid of attack and arrest by soldiers.

Nightlife, which was gradually returning to the city, especially at major junctions and hotels, has disappeared as residents, motorists and business owners are now seen racing to their homes as early as 6.30 pm daily.

One week after the attack, many businesses in the Ogbor Hill area are yet to fully reopen for fear of attack by the angry soldiers.

Even churches located at the Obikabia axis have not been able to hold their activities since the incident for fear of arrests by soldiers.

It was gathered that the soldiers also invaded the Cemetery, Ngwa Road, Ariaria, Ekeoha markets and other business centres in the city and ordered traders and business owners to leave.

Shops around the Obikabia Junction area, which also leads to Ukaegbu, Umuola, Ehere, Ururuka and New Umuahia, were abandoned for fear of reprisal attacks by soldiers.

A restaurant owner at the Obikabia area, who gave her name as Mama Uche, said she lost over N200, 000 as food ingredients she bought got spoilt at her shop while she fled as soldiers stormed the area.

A trader at the Cemetery Market lamented that he lost a contract to supply some goods to a company in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, over the abrupt closure of the market, even as the Abia – Rivers boundary was also allegedly shut by soldiers.

It was also observed that two eateries, Chicken Republic and Crunchies, located near the Obikabia military checkpoint, are yet to reopen for business since the incident.

Hotels and other recreational spots were not left out as soldiers invaded some hotels, especially in Ogbor Hill and environs, arrested lodgers who were taken to their camps.

A laundry operator in one of the new hotels along Ukaegbu Road said soldiers invaded their hotel at about 2am, ransacked rooms and arrested all lodgers and staff members.

He stated that the lodgers and staff members were taken to a military camp in the city where some were profiled and released while others were still being detained.

He said: “Soldiers invaded our hotel around 2am, ransacked all the rooms and arrested all lodgers and members of staff.

“We were moved to a military camp in Aba where some people were screened and released.

“But some are still being detained. Since the invasion of the hotel by the soldiers, guests no longer visit for lodging and relaxation.

“At the moment, people are afraid, no business because there is fear everywhere.

“We pray that the situation will soon return to normal for business to start booming again.”


Reports of alleged humiliation of passengers by soldiers who barricaded the Aro Ngwa, Umuikaa, Isiala Ngwa and Ntigha Junctions along the Aba – Umuahia section of the Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway also sent shivers down the spines of residents

A motorist, who gave his name as Sunny, told our correspondent that the humiliation of passengers by soldiers had stopped, but there were cases where suspected persons were arrested while other passengers were allowed to continue their journey.

He said: “At the Aro Ngwa, Umuikaa, Isiala Ngwa and Ntigha Junctions on the expressway, passengers are ordered to alight and raise their hands before passing the barricade.

“The Aro Ngwa Junction was completely blocked, motorists passed through local routes.

“But the situation is gradually easing off except at Umuikaa Junction where soldiers are still forcing passengers to raise their hands.

“We condemn the killing of the five soldiers but the Army should ensure that innocent motorists should not be made to suffer for what they didn’t know.”

Missing persons

Some residents have also alleged cases of missing persons following raids of their homes by soldiers.

However, Gov Otti had, during his second visit to the 144 Battalion in Asa, Ukwa West council area, urged the military to release innocent persons who were still being detained in connection with the innocent.

Commenting on the situation, a human rights group, Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, condemned the killing of the soldiers but frowned upon the alleged incidents of torture, illegal mass arrest, unlawful detention, invasion of homes and hotels, and enforced disappearances of persons allegedly being perpetrated by the military.

The Foundation also faulted the forced closure of markets and described it as overkill on the suffering residents of Aba.

It said: “Even during war times, there are rules of engagement. We call on the military top brass to see to it that rules of engagement are adhered to.

“We also urge Governor Alex Otti to ensure that calm is returned to the state in the coming days as insecurity or heavy military action could scare investors from the state.

“People are now afraid of venturing out of their homes for fear of reprisal attacks.

“Many business people can’t put food on the table with daily jobs.

“Therefore, soldiers shouldn’t be seen as humiliating the same innocent people they are meant to protect.

“Let them deploy more intelligence to apprehend the criminals.

“The military should exhibit the professionalism which they have been known for.”

Efforts to get the reaction of the military authorities through the spokesman, 14 Brigade, Ohafia, Lt. Innocent Omale, were unsuccessful as he didn’t respond to a message sent to his mobile phone.

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