Soldier Killings – Aba Locked Down Amid Reprisals, Residents Report Losses

Soldier Killings - Aba Locked Down Amid Reprisals, Residents Report Losses

Residents of Aba, Abia State, are experiencing significant disruptions following a series of reprisal attacks by soldiers after the killing of five of their colleagues at a military checkpoint at Obikabia Junction, Ogbor Hill, Aba, on Thursday, May 30. The unknown assailants not only killed the soldiers but also set two patrol vans and the checkpoint ablaze.

In retaliation, soldiers have been patrolling Aba and its surrounding areas, assaulting and arresting motorists and residents. This ongoing military presence has instilled fear among the populace, with many preferring to stay indoors. The situation worsened with the deployment of two military helicopters that hovered over the city three days after the incident, further escalating fears.


Despite Governor Alex Otti’s reassurances urging innocent residents to continue their normal activities without fear of harassment, the anxiety among the residents remains palpable. The city’s nightlife, which had been slowly reviving, has vanished as people rush home as early as 6:30 PM. Many businesses, particularly in the Ogbor Hill area, have yet to reopen due to the fear of further military reprisals.

Churches in the Obikabia axis have also been unable to hold their usual activities, fearing soldiers’ arrests. Reports indicate that soldiers have raided various markets and business centers, ordering traders to vacate. A restaurant owner in the Obikabia area reported losing over N200,000 worth of food ingredients due to the abrupt evacuation.


Similarly, a trader at Cemetery Market lamented losing a contract due to the sudden market closures. Major eateries near the Obikabia military checkpoint, such as Chicken Republic and Crunchies, have remained closed since the incident. Hotels and recreational spots, especially in Ogbor Hill, have also been targeted, with soldiers arresting lodgers and staff, leading to a decline in business.

A laundry operator at a new hotel on Ukaegbu Road recounted how soldiers invaded the hotel at 2 AM, arrested all lodgers and staff, and took them to a military camp where some were later released while others remained detained. This incident has significantly impacted business, with people avoiding hotels out of fear.

Reports of passenger humiliation at military checkpoints along the Aba-Umuahia section of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway have also surfaced. Passengers are forced to alight and raise their hands before passing. Although this practice has eased in some areas, it persists at certain junctions.

There have been allegations of missing persons following military raids on homes, prompting Governor Otti to urge the military to release innocent detainees. The Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy, and Development (FENRAD) condemned the killing of the soldiers but criticized the military’s actions, including torture, mass arrests, unlawful detention, and forced disappearances.


FENRAD also condemned the forced closure of markets, describing it as an overreach that exacerbates the suffering of Aba’s residents. The group called for adherence to rules of engagement even during times of conflict and urged Governor Otti to restore calm to the state to avoid deterring potential investors.

Efforts to obtain a response from the military authorities, specifically from Lt. Innocent Omale, spokesman for the 14 Brigade in Ohafia, were unsuccessful as he did not respond to messages.


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