Following the recent spate of attacks on security operatives in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom, a joint military operation Tuesday commenced to flush out criminal elements.
Essien Udim, the council area of the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has been under siege for some time now by criminal elements suspected to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Just last week, three police officers including a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), were killed in a reprisal attack by unknown gunmen while four policemen were declared missing. Military vehicles were also set ablaze by the hoodlums.
To contain the worrisome situation, the military has begun the bombardment of suspected enemy hideouts in the area with sounds of gunshots and heavy artillery tearing through the air.
Drones and helicopters were also deployed as they flew at low levels to ensure proper surveillance of the area.
Newsmen report that the military had on Monday asked residents to vacate areas suspected to be used as camps by the criminals.
Staff and students of the Federal Polytechnic, Ukana in Essien Udim located a few metres from Akpabio’s residence were forced out of the school campus.
The Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic in Ikot Ekpene was also shut.
The Army Public Relations Officer, 2 Brigade Nigerian Army, Akwa Ibom State, Captain Godfrey Abakpa, confirmed the military operation to journalists in Uyo on telephone on Tuesday.
He said, ”The operation just started even as the general security situation in Akwa Ibom state was very peaceful and calm before these miscreants started two weeks ago their problem.
”They attacked so many security agencies and carted away some weapons and this gave them the courage to continue with their nefarious activities.
“In the light of this the army commander and commanders of other security agencies decided that the criminals must be brought down.”
Though the Army command in the state has promised to issue an official release soon, at the time of filing this report, the Army Spokesperson said no arrest had been made yet.
Asked if the criminals were members of IPOB, he said: ”they are miscreants for now. We can’t categorise them until they are apprehended and questioned to know their intention and who sent them.”