By Ifeoma Ejiofor
Odoata Central School in Ihiala, Ihiala local government area came under heavy attack on Tuesday morning as unknown gunmen allegedly opened fire on the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) faithful who had gathered to receive the candidate of the party in the November 6 governorship election, Prof Charles Soludo and the Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano as well as other dignitaries.
The party members were said to have taken to their heels when the unknown gunmen stormed the campaign ground at about 9.00am.
Eyewitness account claimed that unspecified number of people lost their lives in the incident and that many others sustained gunshot injuries.
Our source said that all the neighboring communities in the local government area like Azia, Orsumoghu, Issieke and others were thrown into panic as the security forces pursued the unknown gunmen into the hinterlands.
A legal practitioner who would not want his name in print said that he
was in Orsumoghu court for a matter and that immediately he got to court, he was told that the military came with armored tank and was around the court.
“Immediately, I sensed that their presence must have something to do with the proposed presence of Prof Charles Soludo in Ihiala. I felt that the military chose to come around the court because it shares boundary with Imo State where it is alleged UGM reign.
“I told my juniors immediately that we must move out of the vicinity at all costs. I went bank to court and told two of my learned friends who are in two matters with me that I want to take date with them and bear the consequences of absentia from the day proceedings. The court clerk refused. She insisted that we must wait for the magistrate to come before we can take date.
“I told her that I was willing to bear the consequences and will not wait for the magistrates at my own risk. I merely agreed on a date with my learned friends and left.
“By the time I got to St Mary’s which was four poles away from the court, fear has already engulfed the place. Shops were deserted. People were running. Gates were closing. I just saw one person who asked me not to proceed any further. On my right was the church premises and I turned into it. It took the gate man few seconds to open the gate and it felt like hours!
“Immediately I got into the church premises, I pulled my jacket and removed my tie. As if that was not enough, I pulled my white shirt to appear rugged, you know. My friend I ran into cajoled me to kukuma remove my white polo and risk being counted as the real UGM. We were having a laugh when it started happening: gunshot everywhere. Come and see run.” The legal practitioner said.
He said that he had to run towards the sanctuary and hid there, praying, panicking and at some point having a curious laugh and that he saw two of his juniors who are non catholics run into Chapel.
He said that the gunshots continue uninterrupted for two hours after which he saw the people leaving the church and ran into his car and went home.
“I thank God my life and that of other court users were saved. I pray him to stop this madness in his own way, I thank those who dropped messages when they couldn’t reach me and those who managed to call. I will spend the next few days recovering as I beg for your prayerful support.” He stressed.
Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of Anambra State command, Ikenga Tochukwu (DSP) in press release made available to journalists, said that operatives at 9:30am successfully repelled an attack at Odata Central School, beside St Martin’s Church, Ihiala.
Exhibits recovered from the gunmen according to the PPRO include: one AK 47 rifle; two magazines with thirty rounds of ammunition; one Lexus 350 Jeep, one Rav 4 joeep; one Mercedes Benz and a Toyota Corolla.
He said that preliminary investigations revealed that the hoodlums started shooting sporadically while arriving Odata Central School but they were successfully repelled by Police operatives and military on ground. No casualty was recorded by the police.
The PPRO said that normalcy has been restored and operations are ongoing in the area for possible arrest of fleeing gang members.