The Nigerian Army has refuted claims by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) that 11 of its members were killed by soldiers on January 20, 2017 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State during a solidarity rally to commemorate the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America.
The Army said such allegation was baseless and unsubstantiated.
Making a veil reference to the IPOB’s spokesman, Emman Powerful, the Army said it was 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.
“The allegation is false, malicious and existed in the figment of his imagination.”
The army, therefore, warned Mr. Powerful and the group that the Nigerian Army would no longer tolerate such spurious and unfounded allegations that are injurious to the hard-earned image and reputation of the Force.
On January 2017, members of the group were mobilised 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.
“The choice of Port Harcourt (the Garden City) as the epicentre of the protest has left much to be desired. It is, however, worthy to restate that one of the constitutional responsibilities of the Nigerian Army is to come to the aid of the civil authority whenever the need arises.
“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 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.
Meanwhile, IPOB has reiterated there will be no talk, dialogue or negotiation for the modalities leading to a separate homeland for the people of Biafra until its leader, Nnamdi Kanu and other members detained are released unconditionally.
The group warned that it was not undertaking any recruitment of any sort because it has come to its knowledge that some unscrupulous individuals were recruiting Biafra soldiers, police and other security outfits in the name of IPOB.
A statement by Powerful said the group remains committed to making sure Biafra comes under the command of its leader, Kanu.
“We warn those doing this in the name of IPOB to desist forthwith and warn Biafrans not to indulge in the unrecognised recruitment of security agencies. IPOB has no hand in such recruitment. Freedom fighting throughout history has never been a child’s play or a game of stunts. If one is not mentally and spiritually strong or has the toughness to stay the course, that person is advised to stay away.
“We are hitting our target and we will keep hitting the nail on the head. IPOB is determined to restore Biafra to end the unnecessary suffering.
“The mission of IPOB is to liberate Biafra regardless of human and material costs. We want a nation of free people where our people will be unshackled from the chains of slavery.
“We wish to clarify yet again, that there will be no talk, dialogue or negotiation for the modalities leading to a separate homeland for the people of Biafra until our leader, Kanu and other members detained illegally are released unconditionally as two courts of competent jurisdiction have ruled in Abuja.
“IPOB has taken the decisive step to exhibit footage, pictures and materials showcasing the acts of genocide committed against the people of Biafra during the civil war of 1967 to 1970 kicking off in Victoria, Spain, March 10, 2017.
“This global historic and unprecedented exhibition by IPOB will be held in every major capital city of the world, to, not only bring the horrors and crimes of the civil war closer to ordinary people of the world but to also demonstrate the insurmountable global reach of IPOB as a sure sign that Biafra’s realisation is at hand.
“We realise that some shameless unscrupulous elements and ex-convicts with criminal record are trying to tag along to IPOB achievements both locally and internationally, to bring themselves to undeserving limelight. These are people without any proven track record of worthy accomplishment in the Biafra restoration project.
“People cannot jump out from nowhere to bring shame to the name Biafra while they have been nowhere to be found with their group since IPOB took the world by storm in October 2015 following the illegal arrest of our leader.”
“IPOB is the largest mass movement organisation anywhere in the whole world. We are easily the largest membership organisation in Africa and have consistently commanded millions of attendees anytime we protest or rally. We are, therefore, grounded both locally and internationally,” Powerful stated.