The Nigerian Army says a team of security forces led by troops of the Nigerian Army have at the weekend raided the operational headquarters of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) in Awomama Village, Oru East Local Government Area of Imo.
Army Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Yerima, who announced this in a statement on in Abuja said that the early morning raid by troops of Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) was conducted on April 24.
He said the operation was sequel to a detailed intelligence report on the location of the terrorists’ operational headquarters and the movement of the overall commander popularly known as Ikonso Commander.
According to him, the IRT and DSS teams along with troops of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army have been on the trail of the terror group since the attacks on the Imo Police Command and the Owerri Correctional Centre on April 5.
“The said Ikonso Commander who was the mastermind of those attacks in addition to multiple attacks in the South-East and South- South regions, was neutralised along with six of his top commanders.
“The joint intelligence team had earlier interviewed several arrested IPOB/ESN members in connection with the April 5 attacks.
“They all confessed that Ikonso Commander was the one that mobilised men and resources as well as ordered and orchestrated the attacks on Owerri.
“They equally revealed that Ikonso was responsible for many other attacks on police stations across the two geo-political zones,“ he said.
Yerima said that the intelligence team later tracked the IPOB/ESN top leader to his exact location in Awomama village where he and his top commanders were hibernating and plotting attacks.
He said that the terrorists brought heavy volume of fire on the raiding team who swiftly responded and overwhelmed them with superior fire power that killed Ikonso and six of his top commanders.
Army spokesperson disclosed that a second lieutenant and three IRT operatives paid the supreme price in the fire fight that ensued.
He added that the four officers who fought gallantly had already been evacuated to a military facility in Owerri.
According to him, three AK 47 riffles, a Toyota Sienna van belonging to the terrorists and several other items of value, including drugs suspected to be psychotropic substances are recovered.
“The items are being processed by the intelligence team to assist in further investigations and operations in the area.
“The joint security team is already dominating the general area while preparations for further operations are in top gear.
“The neutralised Ikonson Commander had in several occasions posed for photographs with the fugitive leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu,” he said.
Yerima said the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru had commended the troops, the Police IRT and DSS operatives for their determination in ensuring that the operation was a success.
He said that the COAS also prayed for the repose of the souls of the gallant officers who lost their lives in the operation and assured that their sacrifice would not be in vain.
According to him, the Nigerian Army along with other security agencies will sustain intelligence-based kinetic operations in the South-East and South-South until the regions are free of terrorist activities.