However, some accounts claimed the soldiers were in the community to arrest an alleged leader of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the security arm of Indigenous People of Biafra, who hailed from the community.
A source the said suspect, known as Chocho, was said to be at large when the military personnel invaded around the community at about 5am and started shooting indiscriminately, burning houses including the family house of the said suspect.
“They torched his house and sprayed bullets in nearby compounds. In short, the soldiers who were chanting jihadist songs were burning properties in the community like they were at war with the community,” one of the sources said.
Although an eyewitness, who pleaded not to be named, said there was no casualty during the attack, there are reports that undisclosed number of youths were killed during the invasion.
The source said, “The villagers were surprised at the invasion because there had not been any attack by ESN members in recent time. We have not had any issue with IPOB or its security wing ESN. In short, it is the ESN that stopped herdsmen kidnappings, killings and rape of women in the community and around Awgu council area. Where were the soldiers when the Fulani herdsmen were ruining the community before emergency of the ESN?”
He noted that before the Monday invasion the military had engaged in show of strength, parading the entire town everyday. This development, he said, made the people to live in fear.
However, the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders has condemned the gruesome killings of innocent civilians and burning of their houses and properties by soldiers in the South-East describing it as “wicked, villainous and barbaric”.
The group in a statement titled, ‘The Nigeria Military’s murderous excesses in Awgu Local Government of Enugu State, an aberration to the rule of law,’ said the Nigerian military has no constitutional right to move into a civilian community and start shooting, killing and burning community houses, describing it as genocide and such act amount to ethnic cleansing.
The statement which was signed by the group’s President General and Publicity Secretary, Mr. Goodluck Ibem and Comrade Okey Nworu respectively, said the burning of community houses or houses said to belong to a suspect or family can only mean one thing, that soldiers were Fulani terrorists executing jihad against Igbo.
The statement partly read, “The Military under the democratic setting is governed by constitutional norms. The Nigerian Constitution being the grand norm, absolutely prohibits the use of extra legal killings of citizens under section 33 (1).