. Demand resignation of COAS
By Steve Oko
Igbo youths under the eagis of Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, the umbrella body of all the youth groups in the South East geopolitical zone, have issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Nigeria Army to fish out abductors of the Methodist Church Prelate, His Eminence Samuel Uche.
COSEYL which strongly condemned the sad incident also demanded the immediate resignation of the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, if after seven days the abductors of the Prelate and his co victims were not apprehended.
The ultimatum is coming barely 47 hours after youths in Umunneoch called for the dismantling of the Army checkpoint at Lomara junction, alleging that Kidnappers suspected to be herders operate almost unchallenged under the nose of the soldiers at the checkpoint who they also accused of frustrating efforts by the locals to comb the surrounding bush in search of the criminals.
COSEYL in a statement by its President General, Goodluck Ibem, described the abduction of the Prelate as a big slap too hot to be stomached.
The statement made available to Vanguard read in part: ” COSEYL in strongest terms condem the abduction of the Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence Rev. Samuel Uche Kalu by terrorists parading as herdsmen in Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State.
“The adduction of a highly respected leader of the Methodist Church and other Ministers with him in Igboland by terrorists is the height of insult against Christianity and Igbo Nation.
“If it was Igbo youths that committed such crime by kidnapping their religious leader in the North, will they have accepted it lying low? The answer is no.
“It is worrisome that such evil practice will be going on in Umunneochi that harbours so many military formations and checkpoints on her roads and these criminals will be operating freely without being apprehended by the army who are always on duties.
“This kind of disgraceful act is going on in Abia State because the army has abandoned her primary duty of providing security and resorted to collection of bribes on our roads and the authorities of the army looks the other way which is a tacit approval of the illicit activities of the soldiers.
“The Nigerian Army that used to be highly respected by Nigerians is now a mockery as they even give “change” to motorists. The act of collecting bribe by the army is too shameful!.
“The kidnapping of people by terrorists parading as herdsmen along Enugu – Port Harcourt expressway and Umunneochi has been going on for a very long time without any arrest made by the army.
“We have never heard of the army arresting any Fulani man for crime. Only Igbo youths are arrested and sometimes tagged as IPOB members and extrajudicially killed without trials. Is the Nigerian army now serving ethnic interest? Too sad!.
“We call on the army to stop threatening the Prelate of Methodist Church, His Eminence Rev. Samuel Uche Kalu for saying the truth about what he saw with his own eyes or what transpired between him and the Fulani terrorists in our bush. The actions of the army amount to pouring salt on an injury.
“Harassing such a highly respected Man of God will not be condoned by Christians. It is purely uncalled for.
“We give the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya 7 days ultimatum to fish out perpetrators of these dastardly act or he should resign if he can’t perform the duties for which he is paid for with tax payers money. Throwing blames here and there will not be entertained”.
The Army has denied any culpability in the abduction of the Prelate or spate of Kidnappings for ransom in the South East.
Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, had in a statement, dismissed as mischievous and blackmail, insinuations that soldiers in South East were compromised.
The Army also denied that troops were deployed based on ethnic considerations, saying that such is not a professional practice in the military.
The Army statement read:” Nigerian Army (NA) has been notified of the insinuation making the rounds on social media, alleging complicity of troops of the Nigerian Army in the kidnap incident of the Methodist Prelate in Abia state recently.
“While the Nigerian Army expresses concern and sympathy for the victim of this heinous crime and shares in his pains, the insinuation that troops are complicit in the kidnap incident is not entirely premised on any findings of investigations and therefore cannot be swallowed hook line and sinker. This allegation therefore raises some pertinent questions which are still unanswered.
” Given, the spate of insecurity in the region, the question would be, was the issue reported to the unit covering the area? Did the Methodist Church take the NA into confidence while negotiating the ransom with the kidnappers? No formal complaint has been received by the unit. More worrisome is the fact that it was alleged that the ransom was paid in less than 24 hours. Was the ransome paid to troops? These are questions that beg for answers.
“Moreso, the NA unit, has not received any debrief from the Prelate or the Methodist Church.
It is therefore, important to state that troops are deployed at Forward Operating Base(FOB) Okigwe and in front of the Abia State University Uturu and no information was made available to them or to 14 Brigade or any other formation, except the information making the rounds in the social media.
“It must be clarified that troops’ deployment in the Nigerian Army is not done with considerations for ethnic affiliation, hence a deployment of troops of Fulani ethnic extraction who as alleged by the Prelate, carried out the dastardly act is not our practice or modus operandi in the NA.
“Given our professional disposition and zero tolerance for any misconduct in the Nigerian Army , we will take this weighty allegation seriously and approach the Prelate and the Methodist church to unravel the basis for the allegation.”