•Says no soldier was killed in Ohafia
•Remain calm, govt working to restore order, Ohafia council boss tells locals
•Begs army to stop harrasment of locals
By Kingsley Omonobi & Steve Oko, ABUJA
The Nigerian Army, Monday, said that no member of its troops was killed in Abia State even as it dismissed allegations that soldiers have been embarking on a revenge mission against innocent people in Ohafia local government of the state.
Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, Director, Army Public Relations made this known in a statement in Abuja.
Yerima said: “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a story making the 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 terrorists.
“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 IPOB/ESN elements who attack security agents and government infrastructure.
“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.”
Meanwhile, some locals including old women were seen in a viral video fleeing to neighbouring communities, claiming that their community was no longer safe following raids by security agents.
Reacting to the allegation, the Chairman of Ohafia Local Government Area, Dr. Okoroafor Ukiwe appealed to locals in the council to remain calm following alleged intimidation by soldiers.
The council boss said he had received complaints of harrasment of people in the communities by soldiers in the aftermath of the alleged confrontation between soldiers and unknown gunmen.
He assured that government was intensifying efforts to restore normalcy in the troubled communities.
The Chairman in a press release by his Special Assistant, Media and Communications, Mr. Micheal Idika, appealed to the Army to stop the alleged harrasment of innocent locals in the area.
” I advise that the military stop the practice of needless humiliation of innocent and law abiding citizens through compelling them to raise hands and other dehumanizing acts”, he said.
The council boss debunked media reports that soldiers were killed in the council, cautioning the media against peddling false news capable of escalating the situation.
” I advise that the public disregard the fake news of reported casualties until government or security authorities make a clear statement on the matter,” he said.