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The Brutal Murder of Military Couple is Unacceptably Cruel.

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The heinous murders of a Nigerian Army Master Warrant Officer, Linus Audu, and his partner, an Army Private, Gloria Matthew, in the South-East should serve as a watershed moment in the fight against violent attacks on security personnel, public facilities, and citizens. Law enforcement officers must identify and apprehend the terrorists who carried out this heinous act in order to exact speedy vengeance. However, justice must be pursued within legal constraints, and a fresh method must be taken to cease the region’s senseless slaughter.

According to sources, Audu and his fiancée, Matthew, were en route to Imo state for the traditional marriage rites when they were stopped by gunmen. Before shooting the pair, the hoodlums allegedly raped Matthew in front of her fiancé. They beheaded them after that. The horrific gang then used the Internet to distribute a video showing their heads and other severed remains. This is the pinnacle of evil and callousness!

Onyema Nwachukwu, the Director of Army Public Relations, immediately accused members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and its armed branch, the Eastern Security Network, of murdering the couple. While calling the death “an evil in Igboland,” IPOB denied any involvement and blamed it on “unknown shooters.” These gunmen are neither ghosts nor outsiders, and they have become a cloak for every heinous crime committed in the region. They are members of the South-East community, thus security agents and state governors must collaborate with residents and security agencies to identify them and bring them to justice.

In every country’s security architecture, the military is a vital and crucial institution. Apart from defending Nigeria’s territorial integrity, it is also responsible for internal security and responding to civil unrest when civilian law enforcement is overwhelmed. As a result, society owes it respect and admiration. What happened to the couple was an unjustifiable provocation, a national attack. It necessitates a forceful response.

Organised attacks on security officials have escalated with fearsome speed, mostly in the South-East. This is not acceptable. The perpetrators are, without a doubt, terrorists. In another news, it was reported that gunmen overran a police roadblock in Imo State on May 3 and opened fire on three officers, killing one of them, Assistant Superintendent of Police Ukam Efut. He only had two years left in the military. The hoodlums horrifically severed and took his genitalia. A military checkpoint in Agulu, Anaocha LGA, Anambra State, was stormed by gunmen a few hours before the military couple was killed, and one of the soldiers was killed.

According to sources, 67 security agents were slain in the South-East and South-South between December 2020 and April 2021. In October 2021, it was also reported that in 72 attacks in the South-East, 175 troops, police officers, and others were killed. According to a more recent source, security organizations lost 20 personnel between March 13 and March 20, 2022, accounting for 80% of the total number slain. Nigerian field officers are being murdered by non-state actors; the killers must be brought to justice. “The killers are not self-determination agitators, but terrorists,” Anambra State Governor Chukwuma Soludo remarked. They must be treated accordingly.

The police and intelligence agencies’ top objective is to definitively identify the killers, their motivations, hiding places, money sources, weapons and supplies, and enablers. They should go beyond quickly labeling all killers as IPOB/ESN members; since the Federal Government has proscribed the group, it is critical to authenticate their identities.

However, as a professional and disciplined organization, the military must avoid lawlessness. The security forces should infiltrate, follow, and corner terrorists and their backers using human and signal intelligence.

Despite being stung by the couple’s murder and other provocations, the military should respond with professionalism and discipline, adhering to internationally recognized standard rules of engagement. The rule of law, equity, and justice must govern troops. Innocent people or entire communities should not be targeted. Not vengeance, but justice, law, and order.

The terrorists’ atrocities in the South-East have shocked all Nigerians, who support all legal means to bring them to justice. To defeat terrorism, local communities must be fully committed. This is critical in intelligence operations aimed at breaking down criminal networks. The military is a recognized and admired institution that should entice rather than terrorize the population. People in the South-East are also fed up with terrorism and criminal sit-at-home orders that are ruining their businesses. The military should not further alienate them by becoming overbearing.

To combat the militants, the federal government must design an effective strategy. Terrorists are terrorizing the South-East; strong solutions are needed to stop the tragedy. The governors must show that they are capable of leading responsibly. To restore sanity to the region, the region’s elite, political, and socio-cultural organizations should band together and collaborate with security forces. This should begin with the pursuit of justice for Audu and Matthew’s murderers.

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