IPOB Recruited Us To Train 4,000 ESN Fighters – Dismissed Soldiers
More facts have emerged on the type of training received by operatives of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), which has been described as the armed wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
This is as three dismissed Nigerian soldiers – Linus Owalo, Godswill Steven, and Chinasa Orji – have admitted to training more than 4,000 ESN members since the IPOB offered them irresistible offers including overseas training.
The trio spoke after they were rounded up by operatives of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigeria Police Force, The Herald gathered.
They were said to have disclosed that IPOB Leader, Nnamdi Kanu promised that they would become military generals in the Biafran Army once the State of Biafra was achieved.
However, the trio said that they later found that all the promises made to them were lies as they were discarded after helping to train the ESN members.
Owalo, Steven and Orji were picked up during IRT’s operations in hideouts in Imo, Anambra, and Delta states as well as Federal Capital Territory.
The 32-year-old Owalo, who is an indigene of Yala LGA of Cross River State, said that he enlisted in the Nigerian Army in 2013 and was attached to 102 Guard Brigade Battalion, Abuja.
He said he was dismissed from the Army for desertion in 2019.
Orji, on the other hand, said he enlisted in 2015 while Steven said he enlisted in 2017.
Owalo, who disclosed that IPOB contacted and moved him to a forest in Abia State, said, “I trained over 4,000 ESN members. This was in October 2020. I also met some other dismissed soldiers of the Nigerian Army at the ESN camp. Three months into the training, I was redeployed to the ESN camp in Delta State. All this while, they didn’t allow me to speak to Nnamdi Kanu. I was just talking to his boys. I was used and brainwashed by IPOB.”
Steven, who hails from Bende LGA in Abia State, said that while with the Nigerian Army, he was attached to the 133 Battalion, and eventually deployed in Maiduguri, Borno State, in 2018.
He said he was dismissed from the Army for desertion but claimed he left his base because he sustained injuries in battle and Army authorities refused to allow him to go for treatment.
“I was eventually dismissed by the Nigerian Army and accepted IPOB’s offer. I was paid N100,000, which was twice the salary I was earning at the Nigerian Army. I travelled to Abia State, where Orji and I took oaths to be loyal to Nnamdi Kanu. We trained ESN in combat and special forces manoeuvring,” Steven said.
He said he also left ESN’s camp when he noticed that everything he had been promised was a lie.
Orji, 23, said the Nigerian Army dismissed him in 2018 after he disobeyed a superior’s order not to attend the burial of his elder brother, also a soldier, who was killed in battle.
“My bosses refused to give me a pass to attend my brother’s burial, so I travelled without permission. When I returned to base, I was arrested and detained.
“While in detention, I started chatting with a friend who told me that Nnamdi Kanu needed my service to train IPOB militias. He told me that Kanu was ready to pay me twice the money I was earning in the army. I accepted his offer after my dismissal,” Orji said.