Residents in Imo State have been left in a state of panic following the gruesome murder of seven suya sellers by unknown gunmen.
The killings as reported by PUNCH occurred on Friday and Saturday in a separate shootings in Orlu and Umuaka in the Njaba Local Government Area of the state.
According to Harisu Ishiaku, who witnessed the incident, the suspected killers, were dressed in military uniform and numbered more than seven, when they stormed the Afor Umuaka Market around 8.30pm, accosted the victims in their shops and shot them.
He said four of the victims were in the age bracket of 30 to 45 and had lived in the area for many years without any trouble or attack from any member of the community.
Ishiaku further noted that before now, there had never been any problem between the traders and the Umuaka community, pointing to the fact that those who carried the attack might be strangers in the land.
Another source, Abdulkadir hinted that Hausa traders in Orlu now live in fear as some had relocated to Owerri.
He said, “Actually, this thing started since on April 2. I was called that three persons had been killed by some men operating in a Siena car. The victims were suya sellers and were killed just as they were closing their shop in the night.
“Just as we were about to handle the situation, yesterday (Saturday) I was called again that four persons were killed by the same people.”
Our correspondent learnt that the bodies of the victims had been taken to Owerri in preparation to burying them according to Muslim rites.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Gender, Vulnerable Groups, Northern Affairs (Men), Ibrahim Sulaiman, while calling for peace said Governor Hope Uzodimma was disturbed by the incident and was poised to bring the perpetrators justice.
“We have just finished a meeting with government officials and head of security agencies in the state. They’ve intervened in the matter to ensure that peace reigns. We cannot continue like this. We must nip this in the bud for the peace and security of our country”, Sulaiman stated.