Attackers who broke into the home of a Nigerian local chief under false pretenses before shooting him and three others dead will now face “the full wrath of the law,” President Muhammadu Buhari says.
Police believe the gunmen were separatists posing as “distressed” passersby in need of help.
It is not clear why the traditional ruler, Eze Ignatius Asor, was targeted.
But Monday’s attack in Imo state is the latest in a string of killings across the southeast.
The secessionist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – which blames the police for these killings and the rising violence in the southeastern region – has not yet commented.
Two of the people killed in Monday’s attack in Oguta were aides to the traditional ruler.
In his statement, President Buhari condemned what he called the “heinous” killing and described the attack as an “act of cowardice”.
The gunmen also attacked the office of a local vigilance group as they fled – killing at least one person and stealing three motorcycles, police say.
Campaigning for a breakaway state of Biafra in the southeast of the country, Ipob often targets traditional rulers – either because they are seen as collaborators of the security forces or because the militants believe local leaders should step up their efforts to advance the militant cause. supports .
Its leader Nnamdi Kanu is being held by the Nigerian government on terrorism and treason charges, which he denies.
An appeals court had dropped those charges against him last month. But the Nigerian government has further appealed the ruling to the country’s Supreme Court.