Army shot and killed our members —IPOB insists
By Erunke Joseph & Chimaobi Nwaiwu
ABUJA—THE Nigerian Army, yesterday, denied allegation by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, that it killed 11 of its members in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, during the group’s rally in support of emergence of Donald Trump as United States of America, USA, President, on January 20.
The Army described the allegation which was released to the media by IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, as not only false but also malicious.
It insisted that the allegation existed in the figment of Mr Emma Powerful’s imagination.
To this end, the Nigerian Army, in a statement, yesterday, by Col. Aminu Iliyasu, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, warned that it “will no longer tolerate such spurious and unfounded allegations which 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.”
The Army’s statement read: “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 gang that goes by the appellation ‘Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)’ in which he claimed that 11 of its members were killed by soldiers on January 20, 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 likeminded 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 regardless of their appellation.
“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 wreaking havoc on commuters, thereby disturbing public peace, safety and security.
“In line with this constitutional mandate, troops of 29 Battalion, Nigerian Army, were deployed in conjunction with other sister security agencies to prevent any loss of life or property with strict adherence to the established Rules of Engagement.
“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 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 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.
“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 property within the Division’s Area of Responsibility.
“We therefore solicit the cooperation and understanding of all peace loving citizens and further enjoin them to join hands to help in eradicating all forms of criminality within Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Delta States. This will no doubt enhance mutual co-existence, peace and socio-economic development of the region.”
Army shot and killed our members —IPOB insists
But in a swift reaction, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB,described the statement by the Army that they did not kill its members or anybody during the IPOB Trump solidarity rally in Port Harcourt as an after-thought and a face saving measure.
IPOB in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Mr. Emma Powerful said “we are surprised and shocked that after one month of killing our people which has received worldwide condemnation, they are now denying that they did not kill our members or anybody. It is a shame that they are reacting when the world has taken a position against their barbaric action.
“If the army is saying that they only shot or threw tear gas, why did they throw tear gas, are they dealing with animals, what prompted throwing tear gas, was there any break down of law and order that will warrant throwing tea gas on people holding a peaceful rally?
“Mazi Nnamdi Kanu led IPOB is not a criminal group but freedom fighters which the whole world knows. They are not involved in any criminal activities, so the army should bury their head in shame for their cowardly act of killing peaceful people and denying after one month of the barbaric act.
“The army’s denial is is to show the world how barbaric they are, how they deny what happened in a broad daylight.The videos of the soldiers shooting our members are available to prove our case.
“Apart of those they killed, so many of our members have bullet wounds that are being treated of. We have bullets shells which the soldiers and police used in killing our members.”
They killed our members and some of them are buried, some are still in the mortuary.They knew what they they are doing, maybe they thought the public in the world are fools. There are photos and videos.The Army should stop making jest of themselves in face of the whole world.”
Meanwhile, the IPOB, said, weekend, that it would never be involved in Nigerian politics, insisting that the organization was neither interested in the restructuring of the country as being canvassed in some quarters nor in the Nigerian president of Igbo extraction.
Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Mr Emma Powerful, said in a statement that its only agenda was the actualization of Biafra Republic and warned those linking IPOB with Nigerian politics to desist from doing so.
He said: “We have observed with dismay, how some unscrupulous individuals are trying desperately to tag IPOB to their party politics in Nigeria.
“The public is hereby warned not to listen to such groups and individuals. IPOB is not and can never be part of any electioneering in the Lugardian contraption we have come to know as Nigeria. Anybody saying that IPOB is supporting any political party in Nigeria is only deceiving himself.”
Condemns continued detention of Kanu
Similarly, the group has condemned the continued detention of its members, who visited detained Nnamdi Kanu in Kuje Prisons, Abuja since last June.
IPOB said those detained since June 19, last year included Justice Ude, Bright Chimezie Ishinwa and Moses Ago among others.
This was contained in a statement, yesterday, signed by Mr Powerful.
The statement read: “IPOB and its leadership worldwide condemn the continued detention of our members in Department of State Services, DSS, secret cells in Abuja who visited our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, in Kuje Prisons since last year without charging them to any court of competent jurisdiction.
“Those kidnapped by the DSS are still detained illegally and indefinitely in the secret cells without traces.
“IPOB is calling upon civilised nations of Europe, America, Asia and Australia to impose punitive sanctions against these regime’s henchmen in Nigeria starting with travel ban on all Nigerian ministers until they obey their own laws written in their own constitution.