Palpable fear and tension have gripped Ohafia communities of Abia State following a clash between unknown gunmen and soldiers.
Three persons including a soldier were reportedly killed during the incident which took place on Wednesday.
This is coming barely 24 hours after Brigadier General Adegoke Adetuyi, took over as the 14th Commander of 14 Brigade Nigerian Army Ohafia.
Senate Chief Whip and Senator representing Abia North, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, who was on a visit to Ohafia at the time of the incident allegedly fled the town in the ensuing confusion.
There were, however, different versions of what actually transpired as some reports say Senator Kalu was chased out of Ohafia by unknown gunmen.
But a source close to him dismissed the version as a ruse, saying he was never chased out of the town by anybody.
The former Governor had gone to Ohafia in continuation of his Ward-to-Ward tour of the zone when the incident happened.
According to one of the versions, the Senator had allegedly been warned by the unknown gunmen to stay away from Ohafia in his political engagements.
The source said there was fury against Kalu for his alleged inaction towards the woes of the zone that has come under increased attacks by bandits suspected to be herdsmen.
Some of the sources said some constituents felt abandoned by the Senator who instead of finding solution to the worsening insecurity in the zone was busy promoting Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Sources said that when the Senator decided to visit Ohafia, unknown gunmen apparently feeling dared, stormed the venue of his visit and started shooting into the air.
It was said that the Senator and his entourage scampered for safety and allegedly fled to the Headquarters of 14 Brigade Nigeria Army for protection.
A source told Ikengaonline that the senator was shielded at the military barracks for close to two hours.
Local sources further said that the gunmen later blocked Asaga Junction apparently to ambush the former Governor on his way out of Ohafia before they were allegedly engaged in a gun duel with soldiers escorting him back to his Igbere Community.
Two persons were reportedly killed during the ensuing gun duel.
Contacted, Kalu’s media aide, Mr Ken, said he did not need to talk to our Correspondent and switched off his phone.
But another close ally of Kalu told our Correspondent that Kalu was not the target of the unknown gunmen, denying that he was chased away out of Ohafia.
Kalu’s ally who pleaded for anonymity rather explained that the Senate Chief Whip and his entourage had visited some Communities in Ohafia including Okon and Amangwu before coming to Ebem without any hitches.
He said that the Senator was holding meeting with his Ebem hosts when the unknown gunmen actually stormed the venue and said they did not want to have politicians holding any political gathering in the area.
According to him, when they were told it was Senator Kalu, they retreated and said he could carry on with his programme.
“But unfortunately I don’t know the issue they had with a soldier when they left the place that resulted into a quarrel between them and soldiers.
“Even when Senator Kalu was going, some of the boys were hailing him. Nobody chased him out of Ohafia. It was a pure lie.”
When contacted, a source close to the 14 Brigade Nigeria Army told our Correspondent that the Senator did not run to the barracks for any reason.
The source who pleaded for anonymity said that unknown gunmen were actually in town on Wednesday when a soldier went to town to shop and was attacked by them.
“They were in town when a soldier came to buy something and they identified him and macheted him. Soldiers went on a rescue operation following a distress call, and discovered that the soldier had been macheted to the ground. But the soldiers were able to kill two of the hoodlums.”
▪︎ By Ikenga Online