The Anambra State Police Command has confirmed the arrest of two suspects linked to the attack on officials of the Consulate of the United States of America and their police escorts in the state.
The state Commissioner of Police, Echeng Echeng, confirmed the development during a press conference on Thursday.
He explained that the suspects were arrested after 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 around the Ugwuaneocha community, in the Ogbaru Local Government Area of the state.
Echeng said the camp, which he described as the hideout of the assailants suspected to be members of the Eastern Security Network and Indigenous People of Biafra, was deserted when the security operatives invaded the place.
Noting that five staff members of the US consulate office and four police officers were involved in the attack, the CP gave the names of the police officers as Inspectors Bukar Adams, Friday Morgan, Adam Andrew and Emmanuel Lupata.
Echeng said, “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 May 16, 2023, between 12pm and 2pm, along Atani/Osamela Road, in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State, by suspected Eastern Security Network and Indigenous people of Biafra.
“Information about the incident was received by Anambra State Police Command, through an official of the consulate, around 2.30pm. Consequently, a joint team of Mobile Policemen and troops of the Nigerian Navy stationed in Onitsha was 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. On May 17, 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 the Ugwuaneocha community of Ogbaru LGA, which was suspected to be the hideout of the assailants but discovered that it had been deserted.”
Echeng said two persons of interest were arrested and had been assisting the police investigation into the attack that claimed the lives of seven persons.
He added, “The criminal camp was razed down by the joint security team. 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 of the consulate officials and four Mobile Police escorts were murdered during the attack while two other officials of the consulate are yet to be found. Information from the USAID authority disclosed that five of their staff and four policemen involved in the attack are Jefferson Obayuwane (Retd. DSS personnel), Sunday Prince Ubong, Ekene Nweke, Hassan Etila and Avwuvie Kaye Monday”
The CP said the corpses had been recovered and deposited in a morgue as the police command and other security agencies, in concert with the government of Anambra State, intensified efforts to find and rescue the missing officials.
He, therefore, urged members of the public who can provide information about the identities and locations of the culprits, to kindly assist the police with such information.
“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,” Echeng said.
Also reacting, Christian Aburime, the Press Secretary to the state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, said, “We assure our residents and visitors of our continued commitment to law and order. If anything, this incident has emboldened our drive,” Echeng said.