Military aircraft have returned to Orsu, Ihiteukwa communities in Imo State in a fresh search for members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) members and its militant arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), causing fresh tensions in the areas.

SaharaReporters learnt that the military aircraft frequented the communities on Sunday with residents and church members returning from services early and scampering to safety as the jets hovered above.

SaharaReporters obtained a video showing how one of the military aircraft flew past a village in Orsu believably on a search for suspected IPOB, ESN members.  

“This is happening for the third time within the past one week. Yesterday, our area was bombarded by military helicopters almost immediately after the people of the community ended their church services.

Some could not end theirs because of panic,” a source told SaharaReporters.

“Helicopters and armoured tanks threaten communities in Orsu and people cannot go about their livelihood in peace. Due to the panic, some schools send children home, some businesses have shut down abruptly and there is panic everywhere till this very moment,” another resident lamented. 

In December 2020, the Nigerian military first deployed aircraft and soldiers to communities in the South-East region in search of ESN members.

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB, had on December 12, 2020, launched the ESN, saying the regional security outfit, just like Amotekun in the South-West, would help to tackle crimes and criminalities.

SaharaReporters had In May 2021 reported how the Nigerian Army drafted reinforcement troops from some of its formations fighting insurgency in Borno State to join the troops in the South-East region over the military’s clash with IPOB and ESN operatives.

Military sources had confirmed to SaharaReporters that the reinforcements were drawn from some battalions including the 231 Tank Battalion in Biu, Borno State, which is under the 3 Armoured Division, Jos, Plateau State.

President Muhammadu Buhari had also in May held a meeting with the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, telling them to adopt certain security measures in the South-East and the South-South geopolitical zones of the country.

SaharaReporters had gathered that the police and the army operatives were still conducting intelligence operations in the South-East and South-South, and will intensify their reach based on the new President’s directive.

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