A file photo of guns recovered from suspects by the police.
Sporadic gunshots were reported on Tuesday as gunmen engage security operatives in a gun battle in the Orji area of Owerri, the Imo State capital.
Mr Bala Elkana, the Police Public Relations Officer in Imo, confirmed the incident in a statement.
Following the shootout which caused tension in the area, the police arrested five of the suspects who were said to have attempted to stop the reconstruction of a police station in the area.
Those arrested by the security operatives include Chigaemezu Sabastine, Casmir Ibe, John Chinonso, Chukwudi Okoro, and Alozie Daberechi.
The affected police station – Orji Divisional Headquarters – is located near the Government House and a correctional facility in Owerri.
The suspects arrested by the police on May 25, 2021.
According to Elkana, hoodlums in their number launched an offensive on the reconstruction site of the police station.
He noted that the divisional police headquarters was earlier burnt by hoodlums during the #EndSARS protest in October last year and a philanthropist contracted the reconstruction project.
“The hoodlums, who believed that the re-establishment of a functional police station may prevent them from carrying out their nefarious acts in Orji and environ, decided to invade the construction site.
“Before the arrival of reinforcement team, the hoodlums melted into the neighbouring township area but abandoned their operational vehicles,” the command’s spokesman said in the statement.
He disclosed that the Commissioner of Police in Imo, Abutu Yaro, personally led the enforcement team to the scene.
Elkana stated that no life was lost during the shootout and the police recovered three vehicles from the suspects.
He assured the residents in the area that a mop-up operation was ongoing to arrest more suspects and recover their firearms.
While the police stated that no death was recorded in the incident, unconfirmed reports said some persons were hit by stray bullets.