Nigerian Troops Searching For Missing Soldier Recover Arms, CCTV Cameras, Others In Abia Community
The Nigerian Army says its troops searching for a missing soldier in Amangu community in Abia state killed three suspected members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) and recovered weapons.
ESN is the militant wing of the separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra, led by the detained Nnamdi Kanu.
SaharaReporters had reported that Nigerian troops from 14 Brigade Ohafia in Abia State invaded Amangu community and killed some residents.
But in a statement issued by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, the army faulted the reports that its troops from 82 Division, Enugu invaded the community.
Nwachukwu said, “The attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn to some publications making the rounds on social media and some mainstream media alleging that troops of Headquarters 82 Division NA invaded Amangu community in Abia state.
“Considering the weighty nature of the allegation, the Nigerian Army deems it necessary to clear the air on this atrocious incident.”
The army explained that on November 2, 2022, a soldier identified as Staff Sergeant Bassey Ikunugwan, who was officially given some time off on a pass, was abducted along Okwu-Ebem Road in Abia.
Corroborating the earlier report done by SaharaReporters, Nwachukwu said, “On Thursday, November 3, 2022, acting on credible intelligence report, troops embarked on a search and rescue operation at Amangu Village/Forest, having confirmed same as an Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN) enclave, where the soldier was reportedly held hostage.
“During the search and rescue operations, contact was made with members of the proscribed armed groups resulting in exchange of fire.
“In continuation of the search and rescue operations, on 4 November 2022, troops deployed at Okon Aku in Abia State came in contact with members of the armed groups, during which troops neutralised one of the criminals and recovered one AK 47 rifle with a magazine loaded with 7 rounds of 7.62mm (Special) and one mobile phone.
“In a follow-up operation on 5 November 2022, troops raided another enclave of the groups around Amangu Village in Abia State. During the operation, troops neutralised two of the criminals, while some fled with gunshot wounds. Troops recovered two locally fabricated AK 47 rifles, four Pump Action guns, one locally made Pistol, one Sniper rifle, six magazines, 13 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO) and one Motorcycle.
“Other items recovered from the dissidents are 2 CCTV cameras, one solar panel, flags, one walkie-talkie, 2 mobile phones, two pamphlets of Biafran anthem, one INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) box, 12 ‘face’ caps, machetes, pairs of combat boots, pairs of rain boot, camouflage uniforms, one transistor radio, two jungle hats, two knee guards, one power bank, one INEC image capturing machine and a PVC.”
The Army Director Public Relations Officer, however, noted that during the operation one soldier was also killed.
Nwachukwu, however, vowed that the Nigerian Army would leave no stone unturned in the search for the abducted soldier. He insisted that criminal acts of attack on and abduction of service personnel are criminal actions against the state which will not go without consequences.
He however assured the general public that all operations of the Nigerian Army in the community will be conducted within the ambit of the law and in line with global best practices, Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct guiding its operations.
“The recourse to the employment of propaganda by these criminal elements will not deter the Army from carrying out its constitutional mandate. Law-abiding citizens of Amangu community are also advised to go about their legitimate businesses without panic, as the military is always on the ground to protect lives and properties,” he said.
Meanwhile, the IPOB has denied the allegation that its militant arm, ESN has camps in the Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State and Amangwu Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.
It noted that any group of armed persons operating from any camp within Okigwe and Amangwu Ohafia are not ESN operatives, “therefore, let nobody associate IPOB and ESN with the actions and activities of any criminal gangs in any camp at Okigwe and Amangwu Ohafia LGA.”
IPOB in a statement issued through its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, on Wednesday, said those relocating from Orsumoghu forest to Okigwe bushes are state-sponsored gangs who are part of the insecurity going on in the South-East region.
IPOB warned that “those impersonating IPOB and ESN operatives and committing crimes should stop or be ready to pay a heavy price”.
“Those criminal gangs who are kidnapping and snatching cars are our enemies who are frustrating Biafra restoration.
“Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s message to Biafrans is that those who are involved in criminal activities against our people should stop now or relocate out of Biafra land before he comes out from DSS custody,” it added.