The leadership of the Nigerian Army has warned the Abia State House of Assembly lawmaker representing Isuikwuato State Constituency, Hon. Emeka Okoroafor of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against what it described as ‘smear’ campaign against the Nigerian Army.
Hon. Okoroafor had reportedly berated the Nigerian military for the role they have been playing with regards to the rising cases of insecurity especially kidnapping in Isuikwuato Local Government Area of the state in a radio programme with one of the radio stations in Umuahia, the state capital.
Infonet9ja.com gathered that the State House of Assembly legislature in the said interview with the radio state; Flo FM, Umuahia said the level of insecurity currently witnessed in Isuikwuato; his constituency has become alarming.
The lawmaker in the interview claimed that the Police divisional headquarters in the council has been relocated to Ovim close to the army barrack out of fear over the growing insecurity in the area.
According to the state lawmaker, the council chairman of Isuikwuaito LGA in an attempt to arrest in order to check this spike of insecurity that he claimed was been orchestrated by Fulani/herdsmen held a meeting with the leadership of the Meyittei Allah cattle breeders’ association, were he instructed them to leave Isuikwuato forest with their cattle’s, he said rather than heeding to this instruction, they took over the forest and regularly engaging in kidnapping, killing and raping women.
He went further to accuse the Nigerian army of backing the fulani/herdesmen in their criminal activities.
“For instance, on Thursday 19th August 2021, some criminals masquerading as herdsmen blocked the road between ABSU and Ogudasa for hours raping, stealing and kidnapping people. It was during this incident that university lecturer and other persons who cannot be accounted for were kidnapped.”
Honorable Okoroafor supporting his allegation against the Nigerian army, said immediately after the incident, the security arrangement put in place by the council made some arrest, and few minutes after their arrest, an order came from 14 Brigade Ohafia for the immediate release of the suspected abductors despite evidences linking them to kidnapping such as multiple sim card, charms, army camouflage were recovered from them.
Honorable Okoroafor also stated that a day after the incident, two other men carrying charms, phones and multiple simple cards and five others communicating with the suspects to ascertain if the road was clear for them to strike were arrested by the security architecture put in place council, but again, on the orders of the military they were released.
On what he has done to draw the attention of the state legislature as well as the Abia State Executive Council on the insecurity in Isuikwuato LGA,the Abia Assembly lawmaker said the issue of insecurity has been brought up at floor of the house several times.
He added that even the Brigade Commander, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Barracks, 14 Brigade Ohafia and other security heads have been summoned by the Abia State House of Assembly, and after their deliberations, resolutions were reached for the enforcement of the ban on open grazing as passed by the legislature and assented by the Executive Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.
He however expressed his anger that despite these resolutions, the military is deliberately abating bandits who camouflage as herdsmen to unleash mayhem on the people of Isuikwuato as well as visitors and those who work or do business in and within the council.
He bemoans the helplessness of the Vigilante groups such as the Ebube Agu, Homeland Security and the Isuikwuato vigilante.
According to his, as a lawyer, he understands the plight and other factors that limit the functions of the vigilante members to intelligence gathering which they pass on to the police and army, decrying that the herdsmen terrorizing his constituency were well armed with sophisticated weapons against the den guns used by the local vigilante.
Okoroafor also appealed to the state governor Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu as the father of the state to support the local vigilante and Isuikwuato local government council by providing operational vehicles for them as well as increasing the security vote of the council to increase its capacity to ameliorate the frightening insecurity situation in Isuikwuato since the military has proven to be indifferent to the plight of the people.
But in a statement by the Director Army Public Relations; Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, the Nigerian Army described the comment attributed to the Abia State lawmaker, alleging that the force in Abia State released the suspected kidnappers of the ABSU lecturers after arrest as a ‘smear’ campaign against the Nigerian Army.
The release read “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a spurious allegation by an assembly member representing Isuikwuato constituency of Abia State who alleged that when security agents arrested suspected kidnappers of Abia State University lecturers, a certain call came from a high military formation ordering the release of the arrested suspects despite strong evidence linking them with the said crime.
Much as we do not want to join issues with the insinuators, it is is crucial to set the record straight. If truly the claims in the said report emanated from the lawmaker, then we must state without mincing words that they are not only unfounded but a travesty of facts and reality.
“The claim is completely devoid of truth. It is most unfair for anyone at that height of the social ladder to sponsor a smear campaign against the Nigerian Army for whatever reason; particularly knowing that he has access to the leadership of the military.
“Contrary to the narrative being peddled in the said report, it took the gallantry of our men on patrol to rescue the victims of the said kidnap incident before handing them over to the police.
“How then could the same Army that was instrumental to the rescue of the victims, turn around to order the release of the suspects. Evidently, this is illogical and a blatant lie.
“The Nigerian Army therefore, wishes to state that the misguided report is actually an abysmally failed attempt at blackmailing the NA for denying unscrupulous elements the freedom of action to foist lawlessness and violence on the good people and government of Abia state.
“The honourable lawmaker should have abinitio, sought clarifications from the Army before resorting to media trial.
“We therefore appeal to members of the public to approach the Army on any issue requiring clarification rather than resorting to blackmail.
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“The Nigeria Army is firmly committed to the fight against banditary and criminality in the country. Nigerians, including residents of Abia state are assured of their security as we relentlessly continue to discharge our constitutional responsibilities.”