Armed men have shot dead three policemen attached to Ebonyi State Command who were on duty on the Ogoja-Abakaliki Highway. In the Wednesday night attack, the gunmen also shot other policemen who were also on duty alongside the slain policemen. The assailants, who operated on motorcycles, tricycles and vehicles, disguised themselves as people holding a burial ceremony.
It was learnt that there was an intelligence report of a planned attack on a police station before the command decided to beef up security on the Abakaliki-Ogoja Highway by stopping and searching all vehicles, tricycles and motorcycles plying the road. But when they got to a checkpoint the hoodlums shot two of the policemen at close range.
They also shot another policeman they met in front after killing the two policemen. Other policemen were injured. The attackers reportedly set the police vehicle ablaze and fled. The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Loveth Odah, who confirmed the killing of the three policemen, said the command was in mourning. She said: “Members of our Safer Highway Patrol team on Ogoja-Abakaliki Expressway by Nwezenyi junction were on patrol and stop-and-search. Some people were disguised to be in a burial procession and were on motorcycles; three motorcycles in the front and two Siena vehicles following them.
So, in the process of checking them, they opened fire and killed two policemen who were very close to them at the checkpoint. They also shot the other policemen there. We suspect that some of them are wounded. “Those other policemen rushed to help their colleagues but they never knew that the Keke (tricycle) which drove past them was also among the hoodlums.
The gunmen also killed one of those policemen coming to help their colleagues under attack. They set the vehicle ablaze. That was what happened. That increased the number of policemen who lost their lives to three. We are mourning seriously. “The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, has led other policemen for an on-thespot- assessment to assess the level of damage and what has actually happened. We are looking for a clue that will lead us to the perpetrators of this heinous crime. We have no detailed report yet.
As soon as they are back, I should be able to know what has happened there. “The command is linking it up with the breakthrough we had last Thursday on April 8 when policemen were also at a checkpoint at a quarry in Umuoghara. Some people came through the bush, opened fire on the police officers. The police officers returned the fire and two were shot. They were arrested and have made useful statements; they are really helping the police. We are still trying to know how we will get at their colleagues because the two who were arrested said they were seven in their gang. Two were not but not dead; they are alive but their legs were injured by bullets.”