The Nigerian Army has debunked a report that troops of Egwu Eke III, also known as Operation Python Dance 3, shot or wounded persons in Aba, Abia.
Sagir Musa, Deputy Director, Public Relations, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, made the denial in a statement in Enugu on Saturday.
Mr Musa, a colonel, urged members of the public to disregard the information.
He, however, said that six members of proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) were arrested and handed over to Abia State Police Command by the troop.
According to him, the attention of the division was drawn to an online news publication alleging that some soldiers of 144 Battalion on routine patrol in Aba shot three persons and one of them died instantly.
“The division wishes to state that, although there was an incident involving 144 Battalion patrol team with some traders at Asa-Nnentu Spare Parts Market in Ugwunagbo Local Government Area of Abia, at no time was anybody shot at, wounded or killed as lopsidedly and wrongly reported by the online medium.
“For record purpose, this was what happened: At 12.00 hours on Wednesday, Feb. 6, troops of the Battalion on exercise Egwu Eke III were alerted on the massive presence of some youths allegedly disrupting commercial activities and pasting posters with the inscription – “There will be no elections in Abia State and Entire Biafra Land’’, “Support Biafran Referendum’’, “Vote for Biafra, Vote for Total Freedom from Slavery’’ – among others, which were unusually widely pasted on private shops around Aloaji general area of Aba.
“Consequently, as professionally responsive soldiers, the team moved to the area to ensure peace and security; no person was to be harassed or molested by miscreants or violent secessionist agitators.
“Unfortunately, some of the misguided traders and hoodlums loitering around started chanting anti-soldier commentaries, with some of them boldly obstructing troops’ movements.
“This situation, necessarily, in the circumstance, caused two of the personnel to fire warning shots to disperse the surging crowd,’’ he said.
Mr Musa said that since that day, the area had been calm and the outlawed IPOB posters removed, while residents had been going about their normal businesses unhindered.
He warned individuals and groups o desist from confronting troops on legitimate duty.
“Nigerian Army personnel will not tolerate violent secessionist agitation; we remain apolitical, neutral, professional and responsive in the discharge of our constitutional roles in line with the vision and policy directive of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.- Gen. Tukur Buratai.
“Members of the public are requested to disregard the wrongful publication as there has not been a genuine report of any major fracas, rights abuses, shooting, wounding or killing of anybody by soldiers since the commencement of exercise Egwu Eke III,’’ he said.
The deputy director said that the division appreciated and commended the cooperation from the public which, he said, assisted in the successes it recorded so far.