Even as the Nigerian Army has blatantly dismissed the report claiming that six soldiers were killed by unknown gunmen in Ohafia LGA of Abia State, residential buildings and shops are allegedly burnt in some parts of the town by men in military uniforms.
Our Reporter who visited there said there are wide range of assaults on innocent civilians by soldiers even as their headquarters has debunked the rumour that some unknown gunmen had killed six soldiers in Ohafia metropolis at the weekend.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima made the clarification on Monday in a press statement made available to journalists. Gen Yerima stated that “the true position is that troops carried out routine clearance operations in line with the rules of engagement”.
At the Old Soldier Roundabout at Ebem, Ohafia LGA, houses were allegedly burnt by military men at that roundabout as some youths were randomly picked up by soldiers and taken to the nearby Goodluck Jonathan Barracks (14th Battalion), Nigerian Army, Ohafia for ‘questioning’.
However, calm has returned to Asaga, Elu, Amangwu and Amaekpu Communities of Ohafia as shops were seen opening and people going about their normal businesses unmolested.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Umuahia on Monday, Brigadier Yerima described as baseless fabrication that some gunmen killed six soldiers, saying that the report was aimed at not only tarnishing the good image of the Nigerian Army, but create distrust between the public and security agents in the state.
The statement reads, “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a story making rounds in the social media that troops are on vengeance mission in some communities in Abia State following the death of six soldiers in a clash with ESN/IPOB operatives.
“The story further alleged that as a result, residents of Elu, Amangwu and Amaekpu in Ohafia LGA have embarked on mass exodus out of fear.
“The NA wishes to debunk the allegation as baseless fabrication aimed at not only tarnishing the good image of the NA but to create distrust between the public and security agents in the state.
“The true position is that troops carried out routine clearance operations in line with the rules of engagement and respect for fundamental human rights of the citizens aimed at restoring socio-economic activities which were hitherto disrupted by criminal activities of elements who attack security agents and government infrastructures.
“Troops of the Nigerian Army working in conjunction with personnel of Nigeria Police and other security agencies leveraging on timely and accurate intelligence provided by patriotic citizens, are working tirelessly to restore normalcy to troubled areas and to rid the state a of criminal elements.
“Consequently, we wish to reassure the good people of Abia State of the safety of their lives and property and also urge them to continue to report suspicious movements and activities of strange individuals or groups in their vicinity to the nearest security agency for prompt action”.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.