The Imo State Police Command on Wednesday confirmed that three persons were shot dead by unknown gunmen at Anara Market in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, Tuesday night.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Micheal Abattam, made this known to Vanguard in Owerri.
The Police did not state the reason for the attack or mention any group responsible. However, said the command has directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department, CID, to commence full investigation into the matter.
However, an exclusive investigation by Vanguard has revealed the crisis in Anara could be linked to community land disputes and clashes over revenue collection at the market.
According to Police, “Three people were killed last night. We are on top of the situation. The commissioner of Police has directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the State Criminal Investigation Department, CID, to move in and commence a full-blown investigation. We have drafted more security men for the area. So, it is just three persons that were killed.”
But Vanguard was told by community sources the conflicts heightening tension within the area were allegedly linked to a battle over revenue collection and communities having land disputes within the area.
According to them, “You know over time, there have been internal conflicts in Anara Communities in Isiala Mbano over revenue collection within the Anara markets. The community has its revenue task force while other groups are battling to take up the duty of collection of revenue in the market and other shops. This thing I am telling you is like an oil revenue for these people collecting the revenue and they can do anything to sustain it.
“Any group that has an upper hand over the collection of revenue has more strength so there has been infighting among these groups as they also threaten themselves.
“Secondly, we have land disputes, let me not mention the names and the communities involved it may cause more crises but those interested in settling issues in Anara should come in and ask of the community that has land disputes. The dangerous aspect of it is that the community stakeholders involved in this land matter have employed the services of these local cult groups operating within Anara communities to win their war on the land dispute.
“Another dangerous thing, these local cult groups have now joined in the struggle for revenue collection within the Anara market and they are now clashing among themselves over the revenue collection. So, people interested to settle this crisis should look into this area that we have mentioned.”