Though the Nigerian Army (NA) has dismissed the allegation making the rounds on social media alleging complicity of troops of the Nigerian Army in the recent kidnap incident of the Methodist Prelate in Abia state, youths in the area appear to be siding with clergyman’s position.
Conveying the grievances of the protesters at the Umunneochi Local Government Area headquarters on Wednesday, Comrade Divine Uche, said that youths of Umunneochi would no longer tolerate continued harassment, torture, and kidnappings for ransom by herdsmen in the area.
The youths accused security agents especially the Army of shielding the perpetrators instead of going after them.
They demanded immediate relocation of Lokpanta regional cattle market, which they allege, provides cover for the criminals.
The youths also demanded that the military checkpoint at Lomara junction be removed and the barricade by the soldiers blocking the Ihube/Isuochi road cleared without delay so that motorists will be plying the route again.
According to them, the presence of the military checkpoint at the area is rather providing cover for kidnappers, hence the call for its relocation.
The youths vowed that if after seven days their demands were not met, they might be forced to take laws into their hands to protect their people against criminal herders on the prowl in the area.
Videos and photos emerging from Abia show angry youths asking the soldiers to dismantle the army checkpoint because they were complicit in the nefarious activities of kidnappers.
But Brig-Gen Nwachukwu stated that the Army has not received any debrief from the Prelate or the Methodist Church, and therefore stressed that the Army will take this weighty allegation seriously.
He stated,”The 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.”
He added,”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.”