The Nigerian Army has come hard on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a group which claims to be agitating for the actualization of the sovereign state of Biafra, describing it as a gang of criminals.
IPOB is led by Nnamdi Kanu who is undergoing trial for alleged seditious activities. Despite incarceration of its leader, members of the group have continued to come under intense scrutiny by the country’s security agencies.
The Nigerian Army, however, on Sunday labeled the group a gang of criminals while distancing itself from allegations that its operatives had carried out execution of 11 IPOB members involved in street demonstrations on January, 20 in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
In a statement released on Sunday, spokesman of 6 Division of the army in Port Harcourt , Colonel Aminu Ilyasu, said, “The attention of 6 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to a baseless and unsubstantiated allegation by one Mr. Emma Powerful who claims to be the Media and Publicity Secretary of a criminal gang that goes by appellation “Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)” in which he claimed through the media that 11 of its members were killed by soldiers on 20th January 2017 in Port Harcourt while conducting a solidarity rally to commemorate the election of Mr. Donald Trump as President of the United States of America.
“The allegation is false, malicious and existed in the figment of his imagination. We therefore wish to warn Mr. Emma Powerful and other like minded mischief makers that the Nigerian Army will no longer tolerate such spurious and unfounded allegations that are injurious to the hard-earned image and reputation of the Nigerian Army, its selfless and dedicated officers and soldiers by any group of criminals regardless of their appellation.”
Providing a background to what may have transpired, the Nigerian Army said, “It would be recalled that on 20th January 2017, members of the group were mobilized from Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Imo and Cross River States for an alleged rally with dubious intent of molesting innocent citizens, intimidating passers-by and wrecking havoc on commuters thereby disturbing public peace, safety and security.
“Despite all provocative attempts occasioned by the stoning of security agents and the smashing of commuters’ windscreens by the violent protesters, troops refused to be cajoled into the criminal gang’s trap to fire a single shot. This is indicative of the troops’ total compliance with their Rules of Engagement. The violent protest was subsequently subdued with the use of tear gas and arrests were made by a sister security agency with no casualty recorded on either side.”
“It is, however, worrisome and disturbing for anyone to falsely accuse troops deployed in support of civil authority who conducted their duty professionally under the beaming lenses of cameras of allegedly killing 11 citizens of our great country. A well observed trend of this criminal gang is the malicious posting of old videos and pictures from their archives on social media platforms which has no bearing on their claims to attract public sympathy and whip sentiments among the citizenry,” the statement added.
“To this end, Headquarters 6 Division Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, wishes to inform the public that the allegation is not true and should be dismissed as mere propaganda by the separatist group. We wish to restate our total commitment to the protection of lives and properties within the Division’s Area of Responsibility,” the Army vowed.
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