The Nigerian Army has denied that its troops killed 11 members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on January 20 during a solidarity rally in Port Harcourt.
While issuing a denial on Sunday, the Army’s spokesman, 6 Division in Port Harcourt, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, said that the army adhered strictly to rules of engagement in spite of provocation from some IPOB members.
He said that troops from its 29 Battalion were only deployed to assist other security agencies to prevent possible breakdown of law and order during the rally.
The statement read: “The attention of 6 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to a baseless and unsubstantiated allegation by one Emma Powerful, who claimed that soldiers killed 11 IPOB members during January 20 rally.
“The allegation is false, malicious and existed in the figment of imagination of Mr. Powerful, who claimed to be the Publicity Secretary of IPOB.
“Despite all provocative attempt occasioned by the stoning of security agents and smashing of commuters’ windscreen, troops refused to be cajoled to fire a single shot.
“In spite of the provocation, the violent protest was only subdued with the use of tear gas while arrests were made by a sister security agency with no casualty recorded on either side.”
Speaking further, Iliyasu said that the pictures and videos that were posted on Social Media were old materials picked from IPOB archives.
He said IPOB used the pictures and videos as propaganda to attract public sympathy and raise sentiment among citizens in its favour.
The division spokesman said that the army would no longer tolerate any spurious and unfounded allegations aimed at injuring its image and reputation.
“We wish to inform the public that the allegation is untrue and so, should be dismissed as mere propaganda by the separatist group.
“We wish to restate our total commitment to the protection of lives and properties within the division’s area of responsibility.
“To this end, Mr. Powerful and other like-minded mischief makers are hereby warned that the Nigerian Army will no longer tolerate such allegations.”
On January 20, thousands of youths believed to be IPOB supporters had taken to the street to commemorate the election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States of America.