Oyigbo: It’s “fake news” – Nigerian Army reacts to allegation soldiers killed dozens in Rivers

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Patrol vehicle burnt by hoodlums in Oyigbo

The Nigerian Army has branded as “fake news” reports that its personnel killed dozens in Oyigbo local government area of Rivers State.

The Army did this in a post on its social media pages on Monday afternoon.

The Army shared a screenshot of a news story headlined, “Residents accuse soldiers of killing dozens of people in Oyigbo, Rivers State” and branded it “fake news”.

Recall that the Army equally branded as “fake news” reports that soldiers were at the Lekki Toll Gate when peaceful protesters were shot on Tuesday, October 20.

It later admitted that soldiers were indeed at the location.

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Residents of Oyigbo recently cried out over alleged harassment, intimidation, arrest, and killing of citizens by soldiers searching for killers of their colleagues in the area.

This was after unidentified persons described as hoodlums and suspected members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), on Wednesday, October 21, invaded the area and killed six soldiers, burnt four police officers, and set four police commands ablaze.

The assailants also reportedly burnt over 50 vehicles, a court complex, and a hospital.

Following the incident, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike signed an Executive Order banning IPOB in the state.

Also, soldiers were deployed in the area to fish out perpetrators and recover rifles carted away from slain security officers.

The residents claimed that rather than identify and fish out the perpetrators, soldiers have been going from house to house to harass and kill residents at will to avenge the death of their colleagues.

Many residents of Oyigbo and neighbouring Iriebe community Obio/Akpor LGA were said to have fled their homes to avoid being harassed or killed.

The Army however denied the allegations, saying its personnel only entered houses that were possible hideouts of hoodlums.

Spokesperson for 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt, Major Charles Ekeocha, said, “We lost six soldiers in that area, their weapons were carted away, it was planned and executed.

“The weapons taken away are in the wrong hands and if we don’t retrieve those weapons now, subsequently those weapons will be used; if not against us, it will be used against innocent citizens in that area or any other part of the country.

“The exercise going on there now is searching and identifying houses used by the so-called IPOB members.

“We are searching those houses to see whether we can get all those rifles they took away from our soldiers, that is what we are doing, we are professional about it, I don’t know about the issue of the firing of weapons.”

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John is a University of Lagos-trained journalist who has read almost every novel written by Chinua Achebe, Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown. He's an expert Scrabble and draughts player who is also excellent at swimming.
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