A commander of the Eastern Security Network, the paramilitary arm of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Emeoyiri Benjamin, was arrested by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team deployed in Imo.
According to a PUNCH report, the 28-year-old suspect, called Onye Army, claimed that the ESN was behind multiple attacks perpetrated in Imo State, including an attack on the state home of Imo Governor Hope Uzodinma and the prison break at the Imo Police Command headquarters.
Speaking on his past experiences with the ESN to The PUNCH, the fighter claimed that he joined the ESN in 2020.
Benjamin stated, “I am from Uzombe town in Uguta, Imo State. I was in the village in 2019 when one John approached me. He knew I had been looking for a military job without success, so he advised me to join IPOB. I was attending IPOB meetings in Orlu every Sunday. I attended the meeting until November 2020, when Mazi Nnamdi Kanu formed the ESN.
“I volunteered to join the ESN, and I was trained with many others from different parts of the country in a camp close to the Niger Bridge. Before I went to the camp, I was living in a church in Orlu owned by Nwachukwu. While at the camp, we were given military training and our phones were seized from us.
“After our training, we were given boots and uniforms and asked to go back to our various state commanders. My state commander was the late Ikonso. We were not given any money. When I got back to Imo State, I reported back to the church, which served as one of our camps at that time. Then, we got an order that there shouldn’t be any police or military checkpoints in the South-East. All the ESN state commanders asked their fighters to comply with the order. I also obeyed the order because I have taken an oath.”
According to Benjamin, the attack on the Owerri Prison was masterminded by the deceased Ikonso and two others. Benjamin said that the ESN had illegally obtained 50 police rifles from the Police.
He said, “Ikonso, one Engineer Mike and Temple organised the attack on the Owerri Prison and Imo State Police Command headquarters. We stole 50 police rifles. We were over 100 fighters who went for the operation, but on our way back, some soldiers attacked us, and many of our fighters were killed.
“We carried out a few other attacks on security formations in Imo and Anambra states before Ikonso was killed in his residence. After his death, we burnt the governor’s house and killed a security man.”
Benjamin also claimed that the group made use of charms to fortify themselves against bullet wounds. He, however, said that the charms– which were prepared by beheading ten kidnapped girls–were ineffective when the team perpetrated a revenge attack on the Orlu Police station. The ESN fighter said that about 12 fighters were killed when an armoured police vehicle shot them down.
He said, “We went in 10 vehicles. We tied white and red clothes on our bodies for protection against bullets. We prepared the charms with the heads of 10 young girls.
“Temple and Mike came up with the suggestion to use the girls for the charms, and we abducted them in Imo State. Unfortunately, before we got to the Orlu Police Station, a police armoured vehicle attacked us and killed 12 of our fighters and injured four others.”