The Nigerian Army has stated that it went after armed militias disturbing the peace of the South-East region and not “innocent, defenceless citizens” as claimed in a security report. 

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), on Wednesday, had accused the Nigerian military personnel of attacking not less than 100 communities and burning down hundreds of houses in the South-East region between October 2020 and December 2021.

File photo used to illustrate story.

This was revealed in a statement signed by the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the group, Emeka Umeagbalasi, on Wednesday.

"Most of the attacks had taken place in Imo State where over 13 Local Government Areas including Orsu, Oru East, Oru West, Orlu, Njaba, Mbaitolu, Ohaji/Egbema, Okigwe, Ideato North, Owerri North, Owerri West, Onuimo, Oguta and a good number of their communities numbering over 60 have been attacked. 

"In Abia State, Aba North and Aba South, Isiala-Ngwa, Osisioma, Umuahia-Ibeku, Ohafia, Abiriba, etc have been attacked. In Oyigbo (Obigbo) Local Government Area of Rivers State, all its major communities were affected. In Anambra State, Ihiala, Nnewi South and Ekwusigo LGAs were involved. In Enugu, Awgu, Nkanu East, Nkanu West, Eha-Amufu, etc were involved. In Ebonyi, Ohaukwu, Ikwo LGAs and others were involved.

"Using Awgu, Nkanu East and Nkanu West, Orsumoghu, Orsu-Ihiteukwu, Orlu, Obigbo, Lilu, Ohafia, Attah, Umutazi, and Njaba (Awomama) as our case study, average of 10 dwelling houses have been targeted, attacked and razed in each of the 100 Igbo communities,” the report had said.

Reacting, the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, described the allegations as outrageous.

Nwachukwu said, “These allegations are not only outrageous, but cannot hold water. The joint operations led by the Nigerian Army and other security agencies have never targeted any defenceless and innocent Igbo person or group of persons as alleged.

“Rather, the troops have operated with a very clear mandate to rid the South-East region of criminals and stem the violent activities of members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra and other dissident groups.

“These are groups that claim they are fighting for the emancipation of Ndigbo, but sadly their activities have been characterised by violent annihilation of Ndigbo, cold and bloody murder of security operatives and other innocent Nigerians. These are criminals, who have used the force of arm to rob, loot and dispossess people of their earnings and belongings.

“We are talking about lawless people, who have desecrated the sanctity of Ndigbo traditional institution by abducting, torturing and murdering their very own traditional leaders in cold blood. These are cannibals, who killed Nigerians, butchered their bodies, roasted and feasted on them. Most infuriating, is that they recorded on videos and disseminated it on social media.

“How could any right thinking person refer to these callous criminals as innocent and defenceless? This apparently smacks of mischief and possibly has ominous undertones. These criminals and murderers cannot by any stretch of imagination be tagged innocent or defenceless Ndigbo. To do so will amount to an assault on the psyche of Ndigbo and Nigerians, who have been victims of the violent activities of these dissident groups.”

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