Gibson Achonu, Owerri
The Imo State Police Command on Tuesday said it had recovered 168 guns, 99 cartridges, 2,323 rounds of ammunition and 25 empty magazines from unauthorised individuals in the state.
Also recovered were one rocket launcher with one grenade, five AK47 riffles with 16 magazines, one lar riffle with one magazine, one dynamite, one 25 black pistols and one locally-made single barrel pistol from repentant militants.
The Commissioner of Police, Chris Okey Ezike, who disclosed this to newsmen on the premises of the police headquarters in Owerri, where the items were displayed, said the recovery was in pursuit of the directive of the Inspector-General of Police that all illegally-possessed firearms by Nigerians be returned to the police for the betterment of the society.
Ezike said the illegal arms recovery exercise by the police had not only led to a reduction in the number of light and small but dangerous weapons within the state, but had equally led to a reduction in crimes, such as kidnapping, armed robbery, cult-related violence and brigandage.
He said, “Firearms are facilitators of violence and the mop up of illegal arms will, no doubt, restore peace to our community and keep our communities safe and secure.”
He said the exercise was aimed at checking the activities of political thugs as the 2019 general elections drew nearer.
Specifically, the CP said one Chibundu Ezeala from Ukuakabia Ehime Mbano Local Government Area and Ihedioha Chizoba from Obowo were arrested in connection with the murder of one Jude Emeka Onye from Amainyi in the Ihitte Uboma council area of the state.
According to him, the victim, 42, had just arrived his country home from Spain and was murdered by the suspects when he went out to have fun at a drinking joint with some of his friends.
According to Ezike, unknown to the victim, a gang of four armed men, including the suspects, had all along trailed him.
“On sighting the victim, they quickly swooped on him and in his attempt to escape, they opened fire, killing him on the spot.”
Ezike attributed the upsurge in illegal firearms in the country to smuggling through porous borders, local and illegal manufacture of arms, relics of the Nigeria/Biafra civil war in the country and seizure of rifles recovered from slain policemen by criminals.
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