What exactly happened on the day of the killings and your findings?
As you are probably aware, a team of officials from the Lagos Consulate of the United States of America and their police escorts were ambushed on 16/05/2023 between 12:00hours and 14:00hours, along Atani/Osamela road in Ogbaru Local Government Area (LGA) of Anambra State by suspected Eastern Security Network ESN/ Indigenous people of Braifa, IPOB. Information about the incident was received by Anambra State Police Command, through an official of the consulate about 14:30 hours. Consequently, a joint team of Mobile Policemen and troops of the Nigerian Navy stationed in Onitsha were immediately deployed to the area.
Upon arrival at the scene of the incident, the joint security team sighted and engaged the assailants in a shootout but they escaped through a nearby forest. Yesterday – 17/05/2023 – joint security forces comprising police tactical teams from the command and troops of the Nigerian Army as well as the Nigerian Navy raided a camp in Ugwuaneocha community of Ogbaru LGA, which was suspected to be the hideout of the assailants, but discovered that it had been deserted. Two persons of interest were arrested and they’re currently assisting the police in the investigation. The criminal camp was razed down by the joint security team.
What have been your findings so far?
The preliminary investigation conducted by the command, following the incident, revealed that five male officials of the USA Consulate and four armed Mobile Police escorted from Lagos on a mission to assess the impact of erosion in Ogbaru LGA were travelling in a convoy of two vehicles when they suddenly came under attack by armed men who targeted them with gunfire and set their vehicles ablaze. Regrettably, seven persons (including three consulate officials and four Mobile Police escorts) were murdered during the attack while two other officials of the consulate are yet to be found. The deceased police officers include: Inspr. Bukar Adams, Inspr. Friday Morgan, Inspr. Adam Andrew and Inspr. Emmanuel Lupata, all of Squadron 23, Police Mobile Force, Lagos. No USA citizen was among the casualties. Information from the USAID authority disclosed that five (5) of their staff and four policemen were involved in the attack.
Meanwhile, the remains of the deceased persons have all been recovered and deposited in a morgue while the state police command and other security agencies are working round-the-clock, in concert with the Government of Anambra State, to find and rescue the missing officials. In this regard, I call on members of the public who can provide information about the identities and locations of the culprits, to kindly assist the police with such information timeously. On behalf of the Anambra State Police Command, I wish to seize this opportunity to condole the families and friends of the deceased persons as well as the USA Consul over this tragic incident. May I assure you all of the resolve and determination of the command and other security agencies to track down the perpetrators of these heinous crimes and bring them to justice.
You said two persons were arrested and we want to know their names and also the motive behind the attack by the gunmen, and government said that the U.S. consulate did not inform security operatives before embarking on that trip?
First of all this is not time to begin to apportion blames, the Command is focused on bringing the perpetrators of this crime to book and that remains our priority for now. On the issue of the two persons that were arrested, we are not going to make their names public for now but at the appropriate time we will be able to do that. All that you need to know is that they are talking to the police and we are also looking at their phones; they are already assisting the police on how to move forward in our investigations and at the appropriate time we shall go public. I categorically stated that two persons are missing and we are not relenting in our efforts because rescue and recovery operations are ongoing as I speak. On the motive behind the attack, I want to state that the convoy was just a target of opportunity because they had already reached that place and on their way back ran into blocks and perhaps the hoodlums saw that they were with policemen and that was the reason they attacked the convoy on that fateful day.
What level of support is the United States Consulate is giving to the security operatives in this operation?
They have given us all the support and assistance, and you know it is a team work and already we have been sharing information with them and what we have is far reaching.
What is happening to the borders because most of the hoodlums operate from the neighbouring states?
I can assure you that the bordering states, Imo and Enugu, have been collaborating with us in this operation and we have been sharing information with the security operatives in those states. Do not rule out joint border operations which have been going on without your knowledge and we do not wish to continue to tell the world what we are doing. Those bordering states have been cooperating with us and we have been working together and what is more important is to apprehend those involved and our sister security organisations have been working with us in that regard.
Awka for instance appears to be under siege by these hoodlums with robberies going on in the evenings?
I beg to differ with you because in the last one month there has been relative calm in the state capital compared with what was the case months back and last year. Same with other towns in Anambra State and you would recall that a transborder gang was neutralised by our men and five of them were got in the process; we are not through yet as we continue to battle crimes and criminality in Anambra. If you have been following our activities lately you would also discover that places like Idemili North and South Local Government Areas have been taken care of and more is going on with our operations. The border operations that you are talking about has been successful because we have established security camps in Nawfija , Umunze, Uli and other border towns and we are putting up more in those areas. We also urge members of the public to key in into this operation and if you see something say something because security operation is an activity that everyone has to be involved in at all times.