An army couple, sergeant A. M. Linus and his fiancée, private officer Pte Gloria Matthew, were on their way to Nkwerre, in Imo state for their traditional marriage rites, when they were gunned downed by unknown gunmen and beheaded.
A video of the gunmen holding the heads of the couple was shared on Whatsapp afterwards. It was reported that the gunmen began making calls to the victims contacts to tell them they had killed the couple.
A phone conversation with the suspected gunmen, believed to have been initiated by a friend of the slain female soldier, has also surfaced online.
In the phone conversation, that surfaced online and obtained by REPORT AFRIQUE, a suspected gunman admitted that he killed the couple.
The gunman said they were aggrieved that the military has been consistently killing innocent residents in efforts to attack them (gunmen).
“It’s quite unfortunate that it is this way. I killed both of them yesterday,” the suspected gunman was heard saying in the phone conversation.
In a statement, the army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu said the “dastardly act, one too many, clearly portends the deep-seated hate, desperation and lawlessness with which foot soldiers of IPOB/ESN have been unleashing terror on Ndigbo, whom they claim they are on a mission to protect and emancipate, as well as other innocent Nigerians who are resident or transiting the South East.”
He added, “The Nigerian Army (NA), on Saturday 30 April 2022 received information on the gruesome, barbaric and most despicable manner in which members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its armed affiliate, Eastern Security Network(ESN) murdered in cold blood, two soldiers Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Audu M Linus (retired) and Private(Pte)Gloria Matthew, who were on transit to Imo state for their traditional wedding.
“Apparently, the soldiers had embarked on the trip to fulfil the traditional rites of conjugating their matrimony, as the very well respected and cherished Igbo tradition demands.
“Ironically, the fact that one of the soldiers, Pte Gloria Matthew who hails from Nkwerre LGA of Imo state, has an ethnic affiliation with the good people of South-East Nigeria did not prevail on the sensibility of the dissidents.
“This gruesome murder, in which they did not spare even their own child, clearly depicts callousness, impenitence and is indisputable, a brazen act of terrorism perpetrated by IPOB/ESN.
“Though the dissident groups have continued to live in denial, while masquerading as unknown gunmen in their criminal violent campaign in the region, the NA will ensure the perpetrators of this dastardly act unleashed on its personnel do not go unpunished. While we deeply condole with the families, relations and close associates of the victims, the NA has commenced investigation to unmask and bring the criminals to book.
“Members of the public are please enjoined to oblige security agencies actionable information that will lead to the arrest of these criminals.”
Attacks by armed men have increased in the South-East in recent times. The attacks often target security agencies and government facilities.
The army has accused IPOB, an outlawed group, as perpetrators of the killings in the region. But the group has repeatedly denied its involvement in the attacks.
The leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu, is currently detained in Abuja where he is facing trial for treason.