Police survivors in the Tuesday morning attack, which shattered the quietness of the sprawling Iwollo community in the Ezeagu Local Government of Enugu State, said they were caught unawares.
The attack, which occurred at about 4.00 a.m. claimed the lives of four police officers.
It also left residents in fear as they trooped to the station to have a glimpse of what remains of the station.
The Guardian learnt the hoodlums, on arrival, scaled the walls to access the place and opened fire on the station, when they discovered that the police station was under lock and key.
After killing the four policemen on duty, they allegedly freed detainees before setting the two buildings inside the police station ablaze.
The buildings, motorcycles and a commuter bus parked in the station were not spared either.
It was further gathered that the hoodlums, who forced the gate of the station open, also removed a Hilux Patrol van belonging to the station. They were said to have driven the van alongside, after accomplishing their mission.
It was also discovered that the only thing still standing is the wall of the station.
One of the police officers in the station, who craved anonymity, said they were caught unaware.
He lamented that the Divisional Police Officer has always warned that “we should no longer stay on the premises at night. “He warned that since the target of the hoodlums is arms, we should lock the station and move to a distance with our guns and watch from there. Now see what has happened”.
He added: “The DPO has even withdrawn our men from checkpoints to avoid their being attacked, but even with all these measures, who can believe that they targeted and caught us almost unprepared?”
He hinted that the police were the target of the hoodlums, stressing that, “what they are doing now is the first stage. We heard that they will soon be moving from house to house to ascertain where the policemen live.”
Another police officer, who was lucky to escape, said some of the officers on duty were asleep when the hoodlums attacked.
“We watched almost all through the night and around 4.00 am, some of us decided to go to sleep. I believe they worked with information,” he said.
A resident, who gave his name as Mrs. Ijeoma Oke, said they were woken up by heavy shooting, adding that the hoodlums escaped through the road leading to Olo, through Uzo-Uwani.
A community leader, Chief James Eze, who visited the station also said: “This is devastating. We have been hearing about attacks on the police stations but it is now clear that those behind it are not joking. What happened here affects all of us. Some of the officers here are from Iwollo, Agu-Obuowa, Amanisi-odo. We know some of the people killed. We have been staying with them and have related well. It is really sad and very heavy in our heart”.
Meanwhile, Enugu State Police Commissioner, Mohammed Ndatsu Aliyu, who visited the station confirmed the killing of the four police officers.
The State’s police Public Relations Officer, Daniel Ndukwe, stated that the hoodlums “came to the station in their numbers and opened fire on operatives on duty”.
He stated that the officers on duty put up stiff resistance, adding however that “in the ensuing gun duel, several of the assailants escaped with bullet injuries, unfortunately four of the operatives, who sustained severe gunshot injuries, were later confirmed dead in the hospital, while parts of the station was set ablaze by assailants”.
Ndukwe conveyed the condolences of the Police Commissioner to family members and close friends of the Policemen, who paid the supreme price in the line of duty, stressing that the Commissioner had ordered intensification of discreet investigation to fish out the assailants and their cohorts.
The attack on the police station is the second in the last two months on police facilities in the state. The first happened sometime last month in the UzoUwani Police division. Like the one of Iwollo, two police officers on duty were killed with the station burnt.