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YEAR IN REVIEW: Some victims of senseless killings in Nigeria’s South-east in 2023

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Like in other years in recent times, deadly attacks in South-east Nigeria did not slow down in 2023 despite efforts by the Nigerian security agencies, including the country’s military.

The attacks, often linked to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), have led to the abduction and killings of several persons, mainly government officials and operatives of various security agencies.

IPOB is a group seeking the creation of an independent state of Biafra from the South-east and some parts of South-south Nigeria.

Beyond abduction and killing, the facilities of the various security agencies and those of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have been repeatedly attacked across the region.

Although several people were killed by gunmen in 2023 across the South-east, PREMIUM TIMES compiled a list of some of the killings to highlight the continued loss of lives in the region.

Oyibo Chukwu

It was a sad day, on 22 February, for the family of Oyibo Chukwu, the 2023 Labour Party (LP) senatorial candidate for Enugu East District who was killed by gunmen, believed to be political assassins, in Amechi Awkunanaw, Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State, South-east Nigeria.

Oyibo Chukwudi
Oyibo Chukwudi

Mr Chukwu, a lawyer, was killed alongside five supporters who were inside his vehicle. The victims’ bodies were subsequently set ablaze by the attackers.

The killing came three days after the senatorial election which was initially scheduled to be held on 25 February.

Following the unfortunate incident, INEC rescheduled the district election, holding it on 18 March of that year alongside Enugu State Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.

The LP later handed over the senatorial ticket of the district to Kelvin Chukwu, a younger brother to the slain candidate who eventually won in the rescheduled elections. But the family will be wishing the attack on their son never happened.

Dons Ude

Dons Ude, a former governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in Enugu State in the 2023 elections, was found dead on 26 April.

Mr Ude, a former Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, had been declared missing four days earlier.

Dons Ude
Dons Ude

The politician had left his residence in the Enugu metropolis in a white Toyota Highlander SUV to an undisclosed location before he went missing

The former governorship aspirant was found dead at Ninth Mile Corner in Udi Local Government Area of the state.

The police in the state said there were marks of violence on the victim’s body which, according to them, “strongly suggests that he was murdered.”

There was widespread belief in the state that the victim was murdered by his political enemies.

Five US Consulate officials

Gunmen, who claim to be Biafra agitators, continued their attacks in the South-east in 2023 when they ambushed and killed US Consulate officials along Atani-Osamala Road in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State.

 

The officials, who were on a mission to assess the impact of erosion in the council area, were killed when the hoodlums ambushed their convoy on 16 May.

It was earlier reported that two officials of the US Consulate and two police officers attached to their convoy were killed, while three others, including two other police officers and their driver, were abducted by the attackers.

But police authorities in the state later confirmed that seven people, not four, were killed in the attack while two officials of the US consulate were still missing at the time.

It is not clear if the missing officials were later found.

The police later said the attackers were suspected IPOB members and that two of the suspects, who allegedly carried out the attack, had been arrested.

Victor Ijioma, traditional prime minister

Gunmen began attacks on community leaders in 2023 in the South-east with the killing of Victor Ijioma, the traditional ruler of Orsu Obodo, a community in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State.

The hoodlums also killed the traditional prime minister of Mgbele, otherwise known as the Isama of Mgbele, another community in the same council area.

Victor Ijioma
Victor Ijioma

The two community leaders were killed in separate attacks in different locations on 25 May 2023, PREMIUM TIMES reported.

Mr Ijioma, the traditional ruler of Orsu Obodo Community, was said to have been ambushed and killed at Umuamaka Junction in the neighbouring Izombe, another community in the council area.

The traditional prime minister, whose name could not be obtained, was killed in Mgbele, his community.

The police in the state had confirmed the separate killings and promised to track down the gunmen that carried out the attack.

 

Duhu Nnacheta

On 16 July, Duhu Nnacheta, a former lawmaker in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, was shot dead at about 11:30 p.m. in Umualoji, Ehalumona Community in the council area.

Mr Nnacheta was a councillor who represented Eha-Ulo Ward in the community within the Nsukka Local Government Area of the state.

Duhu Nnacheta
Duhu Nnacheta

His family believed the incident was a case of political assassination.

James Nnamdi

Gunmen, on 17 July, shot and killed the traditional ruler of Ezuhu Umuamadi Nguru Autonomous Community in Abor Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, James Nnamdi otherwise known as Mmirioma.

Mr Nnamdi died while receiving medical attention at a hospital in the state, the police said.

James Nnamdi
James Nnamdi

He was the third traditional ruler reported killed in the South-east in 2023.

Zachary Maduka

Some gunmen, on 13 September, beheaded Zachary Maduka, a chieftain of the LP in Abia State, South-east Nigeria.

Mr Maduka, 70, was beheaded by over 10 gunmen who wielded pump action rifles, machetes and other dangerous weapons.

Zachary Maduka
Zachary Maduka

The politician was a campaign director of the LP in the 2023 general elections.

The hoodlums had shot the victim at a drinking joint in Amelechi, a village in his community, Akpukpa in Isuikwuato Local Government Area of the state.

Chiedoziem Anyanwu

Gunmen, on 23 November, killed Chiedoziem Anyanwu, a ward chairperson of the PDP in Imo State.

Mr Anyanwu was the PDP chairperson of Ife/Akpodim/Chokoneze Ward in Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area of the state.

Chiedoziem Anyanwu
Chiedoziem Anyanwu

The PDP leader was shot by the gunmen who operated on a motorcycle.

The gunmen were said to have requested to see the deceased on arrival at his house.

On identifying him, the attackers shot him in his wife’s presence and waited to ensure that he was dead before they fled the scene.

The attack occurred barely two weeks after the 11 November governorship election in the state which was won by the ruling party, APC.

Joe Ochulor

Another traditional ruler, Joe Ochulor, was murdered by gunmen in November.

Before his death, Mr Ochulor was the traditional ruler of Otulu Community in Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State.

Joe Ochulor
Joe Ochulor

The monarch was earlier kidnapped from his palace by the gunmen on the morning of 25 November.

His body was found on the roadside, barely 24 hours later, at Mbutu, a community in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of the state.

He was the fourth traditional ruler to be killed in the South-east in 2023.

Patrick Ezugwu

Some armed hoodlums, at about 9 p.m. on 24 December, killed the traditional ruler of Akutara, Patrick Ezugwu, in Adani Autonomous Community, Uzo Uwani Council Area of Enugu State, according to the police in the state.

Patrick Ezeugwu
Patrick Ezeugwu

The police announced that eight suspects had been arrested in connection to the murder of the traditional ruler.

Mr Ezugwu was the fifth traditional ruler to be killed by gunmen in the South-east in 2023.

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