Seven suspected members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) have been killed and five others arrested by security operatives at a camp in a forest in Agbonchia, Eleme local government area of Rivers state.
ESN is the militia wing of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), the Nnamdi Kanu group that wants the South-East to secede.
According to a statement by the Nigerian Army, the raid on the ESN camp occurred on Thursday.
The statement, which was signed by the Deputy Army Public Relations Officer, Lt. Colonel Charles Ekeocha, read, “6 Division, in conjunction with Keystone, DSS and NSCDC led by Brigadier-General MD Danja conducted clearance/raid operations at suspected IPOB/ESN camp in Agbochia Forest along Pipelines Road Ogali/ Kom-Kom boundary between Eleme and Oyigbo local government areas of Rivers state.
“During the clearance/raid Operations, the team came in contact with the IPOB/ESN members. However, during the firefight, 7 x IPOB/ESN members were neutralized and 5 x suspects were arrested.
“Items recovered during the clearance/raid include: Communication gadgets, assorted cell phones, army uniforms arms and ammunition were also recovered.
“Also recovered from the camp two AK 47 rifles, two G3 rifles, one locally made machine gun and one G3 magazine. Also recovered were include three rounds of 7.62mm special,10 rounds 7.62mm , 51mm NATO, one cutlass, five Baofeng handheld radios with chargers and 10 black berets.”
IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu had in December 2020 launched ESN to protect the people of South-East and South-South regions from terrorists and bandits allegedly trooping in from the North.
The IPOB leader described the outfit as a replica of the Western Nigeria Security Network, also known as Amotekun, earlier launched by the South-West governors to curb insecurity in the region.
“The sole aim and objective of this newly formed security outfit known as Eastern Security Network are to halt every criminal activity and the terrorist attack on Biafraland,” Kanu had said.
“This outfit, which is a vigilante group like the Amotekun in the South-West and the Miyetti Allah security outfit, will ensure the safety of our forests and farmland, which terrorists have converted into slaughter grounds and raping fields.”
There have been clashes between the military and ESN operatives in Orlu, Imo State, and some other parts of the South-East and South-South, leading to the death of many people.