The 82nd Division, Nigerian Army said, yesterday, it merely invoked the extant Rules of Engagement (ROE) to resort to self-defence and protect the strategic Niger Bridge.
The Army stated that it did not deliberately kill members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Monday, by security agents in Onitsha, as alleged.
The Army said five members of MASSOB/IPOB were killed, eight wounded, while nine were arrested.
“The attention of the general public is, hereby, drawn to the unwarranted attack launched by combined members of Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, and the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, against the peace-loving populace as well as security agencies at about 0415 hours on May 30, 2016,” a a statement signed by Deputy Army Public Relations Officer, Colonel H. A. Gambo, read in part.
“This attack was purported to have been orchestrated to mar the first anniversary of the present democratic government as part of the activities earmarked to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Biafra.
“Due to the widespread panic, tension and apprehension that generated from the activities of MASSOB and IPOB members, security agencies which comprised detachments of the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police, Department of State Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, were compelled to intervene, in consonance with constitutional provisions of aid to civil authority where and when such occasion demands.
“The over-arching imperative to ensure a reign of peace, security and stability in this circumstance was most starring.”
“However, the MASSOB/IPOB members, who had earlier assembled at a school location on Ataa Road, near Saint Edmund’s Catholic Parish, Maryland, Nkpor-Agu in Anambra State resorted to fierce attack against the intervening security agencies that were carrying out their legitimate mandate.
“The nature of this attack involved brazen employment of various types of fire arms and all sorts of crude weapons, volatile cocktail such as acid and dynamites.
“Instructively, troops of 82 Division Nigerian Army, as the lead agency of the security agencies, had to invoke the extant Rules of Engagement (ROE) to resort to self-defence, protection of the strategic Niger Bridge, prevent re-enforcement of the pro-Biafran members apparently surging ahead from the far side of the Niger Bridge at Onitsha.
“All these efforts were in order to de-escalate the palpable tension as well as ward off the apparent threats to lives and property in the general area. In the aftermath of the fire fight that ensued, many of our troops sustained varying degrees of injury.
“These injured troops are currently receiving treatment at own medical centre. Similarly, five members of MASSOB/IPOB were killed, eight wounded, while nine were arrested for due legal actions.
“This unfortunate incident, notwithstanding, 82 Division, Nigerian Army, wishes to assure all of its professional commitment to the protection of lives and property of the good people of Anambra State and, indeed, across its entire area of responsibility in tandem with the recent directive of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through the Chief of Defence Staff to the Chief of Army Staff to avert occurrences of such unwarranted and uncivilized attacks against the good and law-abiding people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the Army said.