The Nigerian Army yesterday denied molesting members of the women wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Abia State.
The group, through its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, had on Friday, alleged that the women were beaten up and their cloths torn by soldiers during their meeting in Abiriba, Abia State.
But a statement issued yesterday by the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 82 Division, and made available to newsmen in Awka, described the allegation as funny and comical, saying there was no element of truth in the accusation.
It maintained that the leadership of the Division is rather intensifying efforts in further training of troops on civilian protection/respect for human rights in and out of conflict situations.
The statement read in part: “Let me make it clear that the drama and the allegation that follow are deliberately staged by IPOB. The allegation, just like others before it, - is false, sheer IPOB’s propaganda to discredit the Nigerian Army.
“Hence, I was able to confirm from the officer in charge of patrol of Abiriba and its environs, Major Danjuma Ali and the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Abiriba, Superintendent Titus Ugwuoke who briefed me - there was no truth in IPOB’s accusation.
“On Thursday,18 May 2017, at about 1705 hours, soldiers of 14 Brigade Ohafia on routine patrol in Abiriba general area, received a distressed call alerting them of massive presence of IPOB women wing in Abiriba township stadium. Most of them (the women) were carrying Biafran flags, banners and other insignia. Majority were dressed in Biafran T-shirts.
“Instant intelligence revealed that majority of the women came from Aba, Awka, Onitsha, Owerri and Port Harcourt axis as reflected on the various banners exhibited in the stadium.
“By Friday 19, May 2017, at about 0930 hours, women in large number surged towards the stadium. At that point, the patrol team moved close to the arena, with intent to monitor them further. On sighting the team, the women ran out, removed part of their dresses and converged on an alternate venue where the Divisional Police Officer, Abiriba and His Majesty Eze Ogbu of Abiriba addressed the gathering. After the Eze’s address, they peacefully dispersed to their various destinations.
“His Royal Majesty Eze Ogbu has since briefed the local government chairman and members of the local government security council on the matter, and there was nothing to suggest that the women were rough handled or arrested”.