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‘ESN commander’ arrested in Anambra

A top ESN commander and a member of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been arrested by the Anambra State Police Command who also commands its militant wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).

The ESN commander identified as Udebuan Sage Chubueze was arrested in Ekwukobia in Aguata Local Government Area of the state on Saturday, October 30.

It was gathered that the ESN operative was arrested in his house with a bullet wound after a tip-off to the police by concerned individuals.

Recall that there was a gun battle between security agents and gunmen in Ekwulobia on Friday, October 29, with many of the gunmen said to have escaped with bullet wounds.

The Eastern Security Network (ESN) is the paramilitary organization of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a pro-Biafra separatist movement.

The Igbo people lost the 1967-1970 Nigerian Civil War, during which they attempted to secede from Nigeria and establish an independent government in Biafra. There remains residual support for the independence of Biafra among the Igbos. Many Igbos, who are mostly Christian, consider that they are disadvantaged under the current, Muslim-dominated Nigerian government. Biafra secessionism is also attributable to the Nigerian police abuses and arbitrary arrests in the southeastern states.

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), founded by Nnamdi Kanu, is a currently active separatist movement. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “[t]he federal government, recalling the civil war, is bitterly opposed to Igbo separatism, as is most of the Igbo establishment. The government has long sought to defang the IPOB and silence Kanu, sometimes through illegal or quasi-legal methods”. Since 2017, the IPOB is designated by the Nigerian government as a terrorist organization.

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Since August 2020, violence has been escalating between the IPOB and the Nigerian government. In August 2020, Nigerian police forces executed 21 IPOB members at a meeting, with two police officers dead and both siding accused each other of firing the first shot. Violence escalated during the following months, leading to a region-wide insurgency.