The Nigerian Army claimed on Monday that recent killings, arson and destructions in the South-East part of the country were orchestrated by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN).
The Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, stated this while briefing journalists on the ongoing military exercises across the country in Abuja.
Nwachukwu said the group had engaged in the killing of innocent citizens, burning of houses and turned around to accuse the Nigerian Army personnel of perpetrating the acts.
He urged the public to disregard the various videos in circulation depicting army personnel as enemies of the people.
The army spokesman revealed that troops of 82 Division operating under “Exercise Golden Dawn” in the region had continued to protect lives and property as well as checkmating the activities of IPOB/ESN in the region.
He added that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, had on October 4, inaugurated Exercises Still Waters, Enduring Peace And Golden Dawn in the South-South, South-West, North-Central and South-East zones covering 20 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to him, the exercises are traditionally scheduled to hold in the last quarter of the year to checkmate all forms of crimes as the yuletide approaches.
Nwachukwu said: “As it stands today, troops have maintained an offensive posture, conducting several kinetic operations in the forms of raids on criminal hideouts and patrols amongst others.
“So far, all the exercises have recorded significant successes. I will go through each subsequently by way of reporting.”
He said members of IPOB/ESN recently engaged in arson and wanton destruction of property at Izombe Community of Oguta local government area of Imo State.
The spokesman added: “The act was perpetrated by one Chukwunonso Iherue, a convict who was among the escapees from the Owerri Correctional Centre on April 5.
“Iherue masterminded the May 14 attack on Izombe Divisional Police Headquarters where four of his gang members were neutralised.
“He also masterminded the attack on the same Police Divisional Headquarters on August 13 where three policemen were killed.
“Iherue and his gang members were seen parading Izombe community, flying the Biafra insignia on October 1, while threatening and instilling fear in the people, thereby creating tension in the community.”
“When troops attempted to arrest the criminal, he escaped with the help of some persons until he was later neutralised when he engaged the troops with fire from his pistol in a frantic attempt to escape.
“The group opened fire on own troops, killing two soldiers in the process.
“In an effort to avoid civilian casualty and collateral damage in the community, troops tactically withdrew from the area.
“Unfortunately, the suspected IPOB members ran amok, setting ablaze houses and other property belonging to those perceived to be against them.
“A reinforcement team was deployed to Izombe and the security situation was immediately stabilised, while peace has since returned to the community.”
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